Sunday, December 30, 2012

Investigator Boudreaux and the Cockfight

The Louisiana State Police had gotten wind that illegal cock fights were becoming big in the rural areas around Lafayette. They decided to send in Boudreaux, their best undercover detective.

Boudreaux spent several weeks doing surveillance and came back to headquarters to report the results of his investigation.

Boudreaux said, "Dere is tree main group in dis cock fightin' bisness."

"Who are dey?", his Sergeant asked.

Boudreaux replied, "De Aggies, De Cajuns, and de Mafia."

"How you know?", asked the sergeant?

"Well," said Boudreaux, "I done seen da cock fight, Cher. I knowed da Aggies was involved when a duck was entered in de cock fight."

"What about the others?" questioned the Sergeant.

 "Well, I knowed da Cajuns was involve when sumbody bet on da duck. You know dem Cajuns, dey drink too much an say 'Aw, what da hell?', an dey'll do anyting dats kinda crazy."

"Mais, Boudreaux," axed the Sergeant, "How you know da Mafia's involved too?"

 Boudreaux said, "Dat's de easiest part. De damn duck won it!!"

Friday, December 28, 2012

She's a Real Girl!

Recently a group of us watched Lars and the Real Girl together, as an indulgent Chicks Night In, with munchies and drinks that the Calories Gods had previously pronounced low cal[!]  Anyway, the movie, starring Ryan Gosling, was a tale about a lonely, shy man who had an interesting fantasy life.  In the story, he obtained a Real Girl, a reasonably lifelike model of a young woman that he named Bianca.  I won't give the plot away in case you haven't seen it; but it was strangely touching while avoiding true creepiness and had a satisfying ending.

Later on, I looked into the existence of such a product. There is such a product available, marketed under the name RealDoll, and each costs about a cool $6000.  You can Google this product's website if you wish; be warned that the product site is somewhat graphic!

Basically, the RealDoll is designed to recreate the appearance, texture, and weight of the human female primarily to serve as surrogate sex partners. They come in 9 different body types and 16 different faces.  They can be dressed in different types of clothing, changing wigs or makeup, and even adjusted in body temperature by use of electric blankets or baths.

According to the detailed Wikipedia article, their use is not exclusively sexual.  They may serve as stand-ins for human models in photographs or other visual arts.  Some owners also use the dolls as non-sexual companion substitutes, maintaining a chaste relationship with them.  Still other owners buy the dolls simply because they consider them to be beautiful works of art.

Well, I hope you did not find this topic uncomfortable.  But how do these Real Girls or RealDolls fit into the everyday scheme of things?  For a start, could she be listed as a dependent on your income tax return?  Do many women own Real Girls?   What state has the greatest percentage of owners of Real Girls per population?  Will they come our with a minister's wife version of the Real Girl someday?

Does a thoughtful owner choose her ensembles carefully and with taste?   I hope that he would have more self-respect and sensitivity than to dress his Real Girl like a tart!  Something classy, like an evening gown or a little black dress, perhaps?  And shouldn't there be a period of acquaintance before any intimacies take place?  After all, even a Real Girl is entitled to have a good reputation! 

A thoughtful Real Girl owner would periodically buy her flowers; and special little gifts!  And take her to nice places: the opera, concerts, lectures.

Suppose a Real Girl owner were to meet a real life flesh-and-blood real girl or woman later?  How would she deal with her predecessor?  I would assume that they would not be so depraved as to live in a ménage a trois!  Wouldn't there there be jealousy issues?  Shouldn't there be a retirement plan for the Real Girl?  I would also assume that no one would be so crass as to sell his Real Girl.  If relegated to the closet, could she come out of special occasions?

Obviously, using a Real Girl sexually is an example of a paraphilia.  As such, it then raises the question as to whether there is a subrosa subculture of Real Girl affectionados.  Is there a demi-monde where they can convene, buy their Real Girl appropriate clothes and jewelry, and dine out together?  And what is one to think of some high roller who has more than one?  Is that morally equivalent to polygamy?  It seems that we have some questions to resolve as these Real Girls become more mainstream.

Also still to be resolved is whether transporting your Real Girl in the passenger seat qualifies your car for the multiple passenger lanes on expressways!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


You can look at coffee either positively or negatively. 

When coffee was first widely introduced into Europe, it was viewed with suspicion, especially because it was available in coffeehouses, which were regarded as hotbeds of sedition.  Unlike in taverns where habitués simply got nicely swocked and disorderly, people tend to be totally awake when they drink coffee.  Sometimes they talk sense about the usual order of things; and this is not looked on with pleasure by the powers that be.  Another reason: coffee-drinking came from Muslim countries, and it was regarded initially as a Muslim drink.  However, Pope Clement VIII declared it to be "a Christian drink" in 1600, and coffee-drinking became okay eventually, except for with the seventeenth century food Nazis.

And make no mistake: coffee is a psychoactive drug.  It is a mild stimulant.  Furthermore, there is some evidence of dependence with regular, large dosages.  Italians drink coffee as a simple self-medication: to get an immediate feeling of alertness.  And, whether we care to admit it on not, many of us do too.  Like me.

Regard coffee-making as a Zen exercise.  You have to have the right attitude and style to do it right.  If you stray from the Eightfold Path, you will make less than a great cup of coffee.  Specifically, you cannot make good coffee if you use a dirty pot!

As a former barista, making and serving coffee was enjoyable because a nice cup of coffee seemed to make people happy if prepared well!  However their day might have been going, at least they could sit down and enjoy a good cup of coffee and enjoy a brief respite from their cares.

Coffee is, in my opinion, a secular sacrament.  You should take it seriously. 

When coffee is made, it has a very short shelf life.  When you make it, use it right away!  As a matter of fact, this is the primary problem with convenience store coffee: it stands overly long and becomes bitter.  And a bitter cup of coffee embitters the drinker.

I wonder if many marital problem have their beginnings with a poorly-made or bitter cup of coffee.  And maybe some of the great screwups of government are due to bad coffee.  Maybe we ought to pay more attention to what kind of coffee is served at Presidential Cabinet meetings and how it's prepared!  It's said that the little things get us down; but coffee is more than that.

I drink chicory coffee about 60% of the time.  Usually, I adulterate it with evaporated milk or Half-and-Half.  A teaspoon of sugar can also be added, if needed.  Sometimes a little Sambuca or Fra Angelico will make a festive coffee for an evening's drink for you to share with a lover!

Experiment with other liqueurs like Irish Cream or Grand Marnier: you will be doubly delighted with one of your own creation!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas with all its joys!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Zen and the Art of Dorkery

Dorks are typically more noted for having quirky personalities, behaviors, and interests. While their interests or abilities may or may not be on the level with the traditional geeks or nerds, they have a better ability to laugh at themselves or others and are usually less socially threatening, a survival feature in today's conformist world. 

However, they are social skill-challenged; which can pose problems for them. Like geeks and nerds, they are quintessinal outsiders; but nevertheless, they are less likely to be criticized than are the other two categories because of their ability to enjoy life and pursue their own quirky interests in their own way.  As a matter of fact, there is a movement in some states to make dorks a protected species by well-meaning legislators who had presumably failed biology. 
The assumption of dork status has its own duties and burdens; but the neophyte dork would do well to follow the Eightfold Path of Dorkery:

1. Correct Interests -- Let your interests be exotic, non-threatening, and slightly amusing to others. Role-playing games, anime cosplay, collecting baseball cards, and rolling marbles down steps are okay. Anything that falls into the category of intimidating interests is not. For God's sake, don't be an expert on French cinema. And don't use the word 'cinema.' Political people can be so boring.  Amateur radio is so retro. 

2. Correct Dress -- Strive for slight quirkiness, having a few small departures from correct fashion. Generally try not to dress too outlandish or sexy. The latter is generally not a problem with guy dorks. In general, dressing as a Goth or a Sweet Loli is going overboard.

3. Correct Self-Display -- Release subtle cues regarding your unique interests; don't be overbearing or in everyone else's face. The maven and the otaku are pains in the behind. I personally avoid these.

4. Correct Insouance -- Be seemingly unaware of others' reactions to your interests. Implicitly, this communicates that you do not follow the rules or even have an awareness that there are rules. However, insouance should be practiced in moderation; don't give the impression that you don't give a [euphemism].

5. Correct Balance -- Avoid letting your esoteric interest creep into your family or work life. Well, you can have a Hello Kitty toy in the office, if you're female and that's what you like. But don't paint your office or bedroom to look like a Hello Kitty setting.   And, heavens, don't paint your house in your team's colors. I would restrain myself and not paint mine purple and gold, if I had a house.  A purple and gold apartment brings owners' complaints.

6. Correct Friends -- Be around positive people. Avoid politicians or mossbacks or televangelists. They are wearisome and a bruden to the soul.

7. Correct Beliefs -- Cultivate some that are un-mainstream, or even those that are dated. But avoid the faddish ones, like the Da Vinci Code or the paranoid streak that sometimes permeates the heat-oppressed brains of Hollywood types.

8. Correct Beverage -- Coffee, beer, or energy drinks. Use nothing involving excessive sweetness or possessing cute names. Whoever thought of drinks like the Shirley Temple, Sex on the Beach, the Bosom Caresser, or the Bloody Awful should be kicked. [I'm not making those drink names up.]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Recruiting Remittance Girls as an Enrollment Strategy

Juggling operational costs of a university (salaries, maintenance, services, and other expenses) with cash inflow (tuition, state money, alumni gifts, research grants, etc) is a bottom line problem facing all universities.  It helps if your institution is illustrious, if it's the flagship university of its state, or if it has a lot of sentiment associated with it.  After all, doesn't every institution have its own saccharine Alma Mater?

Therefore, boosting enrollment is seen as the sine qua non of a successful institution because there is the necessity of grubbing or begging for money.  However, the birth rate reduction of a generation ago is affecting the number of potential college students.  Obviously, universities would like to attract the best and brightest!  But if your institution is a new one, without a remarkable campus life, or athletic prowess, it's a little harder to play that game!

Dean Chauncey Worthington and his Enrollment Management Committee at Florida Everglades University had to confront that reality.  In their discussions regarding enrollment strategies, they brainstormed (or brainstemstormed) several ideas:  (1) Having a Junior Year Aboard in Boca Raton, (2) Developing a Surfer Science Major, (3)  Offering discount coupons with early payment of tuition, and so forth.

Finally, Assistant Professor Clovis Evariste timidly offered an idea:  seek out Remittance Girls.  The Dean, despite his aversion to appearing unknowledgeable, blurted out, "What is a Remittance Girl?"

Professor Evariste went into a lengthy discourse about how, during the Victorian Era, well-to-do noble families dealt with the problem of occasional black sheep by sending them to the Colonies or to America and, effectively, paying them to stay away!  Hence, due to their remittances that provided them with support, they became known as remittance men.

In our modern p.c. times we wisely refrain from using sexist language; so it is appropriate to speak of the parallel expresson "remittance women."  As a matter of fact, some families followed this practice by packing off wayward daughters to live in places such as boarding schools out of scrutiny by other family members or friends.  Professor Evariste suggested that the institution actively seek out female students whose antecedent careers proved to be embarassments to their families, and give them a fresh start with programs geared to meet their needs.

Such as marvelous shops, art galleries, bars, and beaches.  As well as a institutional "don't ask, don't tell" policy with regard to drugs, sex, or porn.

Some members sputtered at this outlandish and nonintellectual strategy, as academics are wont to do.  But old professor Vivian Wilson mentioned the adage, "If you have a lemon, make a lemonade!"  She pointed out that one formidable challenge that the institution had was that it had little to recommend it to the more affluent set, the set with disposable resources that might result in donations.  However, they could turn things around by buying an older hotel in nearby South Beach and designating it the Florida Everglades University -- South Beach Campus.  The institution could immediately make this effective by charging substantial fees for dormitory rooms (on-campus residence required for Freshmen) and a tuition surcharge for its South Beach Campus.  Furthermore, they would adversize their South Beach Campus in some of the tonier East Coast magazines!

The Enrollment Management Committee quickly endorsed this idea.  And the males on the committee promptly applied for assignation to the South Beach Campus as soon as it was operational.  After all, they were supremely sensitive to the needs of this newly-discerned type of student!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Louisiana Museum

There is a Louisiana Museum, featuring modern art.  Several moderns, including Picasso and Calder are on display there.  It's supposed to be in a very visually compelling setting, and makes a trip 22 miles north of Copenhagen worthwhile.

Yes, I said Copenhagen.  Of the Denmark variety.

Did the founder have any links with Louisiana?  Was he a native Louisianan, or admired the small state so?    Perhaps he was an LSU graduate?  Or maybe it was in honor of a grand time had at a Mardi Gras?

No, it's for an odd reason:  It turned out that the founder had been married successively to three women, all named Louise, and the museum was named in honor of his three wives!

Alexander Calder sculpture at Louisiana Museum

Candy Thong and Bra

I must admit that I'm totally amazed that such a product as a candy g-string or thong exists.  Presumably it is to be nibbled on as part of foreplay.  It must require the wearer to have a great sense of humor, a lack of ticklishness, and few inhibitions.  Not to mention a superlative Brazilian waxing!  And they're reasonably priced at only $11.50!
I fear that I am skirting the margins of taste with this topic.  Still, what a thought to have one under my skirt at work . . . .  Would it get sticky in warm weather or from body heat?
I wonder what the Nutrition Facts label says regarding this product.  How many calories does it have?  What is its sodium content?  And, very importantly, how many servings goes with each?
Suppose the candy thong or g-string is listed for two servings?  I can imaging some eagle-eyed Republican reading this, and concluding that the government is indirectly sanctioning threesomes!  Oh my, what a can of worms!  Particularly since it implies a not-often-thought-of form of threesome: two men and one woman!  They don't do that sort of thing in Florida!
In fact, there can be a lot of possible naive logical processes and faulty assumptions to adopt.
At any rate, if the thong is edible, it should warrant nutrition information.  This would at least satisfy the Democrats!  And we would not want any of our citizens becoming and living large from eating candy thongs, especially during the holiday season, when sweet treats abound.

Even better: You can also wear a matching candy bra for about $9.50.  The product is listed as "one size fits most."  [Sure. . . .]   After all, lingerie should match.  Very definitely you might wonder about the caloric intake that goes with a matching candy thong and bra set and how many servings they represent!  Maybe the resulting activity might serve to work off some of those calories.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fnancial Success by Being a Unsuccessful Football Coach

Ideally, one should choose a life's work that is socially useful, stimulating, respectable, financially renumerating, and gives you joy in your life.  On the other hand, most of us mortals have to work with what we can get.

Millenials have read a number of lists of most needed and best-paying occupations; hopefully to guide them in making this golden decision.  On the other hand, some choose poorly: they become meth lab specialists, prostitutes, used car salesmen, and politicians.  But, clearly, the real magabucks come if you are lucky enough to be  Fortune 500 company CEO or a football coach.

A football coach?  Now, very few get to coach on the Division one level; and they get big bucks for doing so.   It's a high-pressure job, with the administration and alumni (less often alumnae) riding on your case if you do not at least produce a conference championship.  Respectability?  Judging by salaries, they are more highly regarded than college presidents or state governors.  Maybe I'd better not pursue this idea too much further, though!

This year, three of the 14 SEC football coaches bit the dust: Derek Dooley of Tennessee, Joker Phillips of Kentucky, and Gene Chizik of Auburn.  All of those institutions had previously replaced other coaches with them.  There seems to be a coach merry-go-round, with new riders regularly.

The result: Tennessee and Auburn have to eat the costs of the big bucks contracts by buyouts of 5 million and 7.5 million dollars, respectively.  That is serious pain for all but Harvard and Yale, institutions that might be satisfied with victories over Vermont Home for Unwed Mothers or Massachuetts or Dartmouth.  Kentucky, by contrast, was in the hole by only 2.5 million dollars.  Presumably they put their money in basketball.

So this my cunning plan:

1)  Get hired as a Head Coach at some ACC or SEC university with a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract.  This would require persuasive skills to be enumerated later.

2)  Absolutely guarantee the fans a victorious season in the first year, a conference championship in the second year, and a national championship in the final year.  Promise them beans, and deliver a flatus.

3)  Give a lot of rah-rah speeches to alumni groups and appar on Sports Talk Radio to work everyone's expectations to their max.

4)  Now the cunning plan begins to take place:  First, have a loss to a homecoming game-quality opponent, followed by an embarrassing loss to a conference opponent.

5)  To adjust for problems on defense, I will hire some clown to deal with defense problems.

6)  If the offense is feeble, I will try new strategies, like drop-kicking field goals and punting on third down.  Hey, Carrot Top would make a neat offensive line coach!

7)  Hopefully, by mid-season the football fanatics will holler for my head; and I will have to take up lodging in a downtown hotel under an assumed name.  The hue and cry to fire me will grow and grow.

8)  Finally, the university will fire me, and continue to honor my multimillion dollar contract.  Imagine: getting paid without working!

9)  I will then immigrate to the Cote d'Azure and finish out the season, leading a life of indolent bliss.

10)  After two or three years of living incognito, I will make occasional appearance as a sports commentator on ESPN.

All I need now is to convince some naive Athletic Director who will sell me to the alumni. 

However, my reverie aside, probably the best I would be hired for is Assistant Cheerleader Coach.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Prophetess Madeline Tees Off on Yankee Sex Tourism

[Toward the end of the 10 A.M. Morning Show on Action News]

Al Gautreaux:  Now for further developments, here's Missy Chauvin...

[Camera cuts to a scene of noisy ladies carrying protest signs.]

Missy:  So what is new in New Orleans?  The Prophetess Madeline has brought up what she thinks to be an increasing problem.  Ms. Prophetess, what are you and your associates from St. Cletus Parish protesting?

Madeline:  I'm glad you asked, Missy.  We're protesting what we see as increasing problem: Yankee sex tourism.  Each year hundreds of predatory Yankee women descend on the South to seduce our innocent Southern men.  This primarily occurs just after football season.  These are largely women in their thirties referred to as cougars; they zip into New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, or even Charlotte and seek out our unsuspecting guys where they take advantage of them while they are most vulnerable: in that period between the Super Bowl and the NCAA Tournament.  Of course, the more hardy ones also come down in the summer.  I tell you, cher, it is a scandal!  C'est vrai!

Missy:  C'est dommage!

The Director (through Missy's earbud):  Talk English, Missy!

Missy: I mean, that is a shame!  And what does your group propose?

Madeline:  We propose that the City Councils of all Southern cities enact dress standard laws.  And laws that require that, if a room is occupied by two adults, that they be married to each other.  And, stronger yet, a four drink limit on Bourbon Street and other entertainment areas.

Missy:  How likely do you think the Council will go along with that?

Madeline:  Er . . . . maybe those ideas need reworking a bit.  We are thinking that additional sports, like soccer and beach volleyball, might be incorporated as wholesome distractions during the time between football and basketball.

Al:  Now I can deal with that!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Breast Enhancement, Ancient Greek Style

To improve on nature seems to be a common wish, especially when it comes to matters of breast enhancement. There are the bust-enhancing cremes (do cremes work better than creams?), tissue, bra inserts, and (as a final resort) breast implants. Currently this is the most common form of cosmetic surgery.

Apparently this was a desire back in ancient Greece also. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, proposed singing as a means for the damsels of ancient Greece to enhance their assets! Now this should be looked into as a non-invasive technique.  After all, he comes highly recommended by history! Remember: The ancient Greek plays had those Greek choruses! Maybe they were so popular for that reason! Even when they imitated the singing of the frogs in Aristophanes' play by that title. Maybe when Agammemnon or Oedipus met their demises the audience could at least go out smiling by what is happening to the chorus.

On the other hand, were there many chorus boys?  Did this cause an upsurge of Hellenic moobs? 

Singing lessons, anyone?  Should I join the choir?  Maybe that's why being in the choir is popular in some churches!  Some more immediate, temporal rewards follow.

A former member of a Greek chorus.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Joys of Being Boring

Several years ago, Forbes magazine had an article on the Ten Most Boring Cities.  Which places marited this dubious claim to fame:  Chula Vista, CA, Chandler, AZ, North Las Vegas, NV, Bakersfield, CA, Aurora, CO made the list, as well as a few other dull places.  You can read it here, if you are okay about slide shows:

As contrasted with Detroit, New Orleans, Washington, and a number  of other places recognizable without state suffixes, this may not be a bad thing, as places often get into the news for the wrong reasons.  Thinking about the Forbes list, the ones on it seem to be moderately sized (by Southern standards, at least), be near or suburbs of more prominent cities  (It's hard to compete with your neighbor if it's Las Vegas or Los Angeles), and have increased population recently so as not to have an extensive history.

I'm surprised that Shreveport did not make the list.

However, I must quibble with the Forbes criterion:  Is not often making the news really boring?  Is that a legitimate usage when talking about other possible instances of boredom?

Obviously, most boring student is a term never encountered in schools.  In that setting, more emphasis is bestowed on the academic stars, the athletes, the cutest, the most troublesome, and the most menacing.  The garden variety kid gets overlooked.   

For example, who would be the most boring NFL quarterback?  It certainly would not be a leader of a Super Bowl-bound team, or one who is demonstratably religious.  It possibly could be a singularly inept player, though.  When the New York Mets baseball team emerged from the primal ooze, they supposedly were legendary in their clumsiness. But, they were not boring!

Or, what was the most boring movie?  I'm sure everyone has his or her own opinion on this.  Consult for some possibilities.  Or most boring television show?  Just play television remote roulette!

Let's go esoteric.  Who is the most boring anime girl?  I'll bet she does not wear a sexy superheroine costume or have interesting superpowers!

When it comes to food, we employ the term "comfort food."  This is typically food that is high in carbs, not highly seasoned, and food associated with your childhood or place of origin.  Some people might call it "boring" but your feelings toward it do not fall into that category.  Sometimes it's nice not to be challenged.

And we should never forget that boring can sometimes be a good thing.  Consider the most boring politician.  Now this fellow might not be a media darling since he gives little for them to write on; but he serves responsibly, does not say dumb things, has no extramarital flings or scandals, promotes beneficial legislation, and gets along with people of the other party.  To my way of thinking, this is a desirable trait.  And I would support a candidate of either party that was like this.

I dimly recall that one of the Republican nomination contenders fit this; or perhaps it was because he didn't make the news much except for a brief mention.

Obviously, it won't get him or her into the Presidency; but perhaps the constituents are well-served just by someone doing his job.

I'm sorry; but I had to re-install Word Verification because my blog was starting to get a lot of ads in the replies.  I wish it wasn't this way; but they were beginning to clutter and some I was not sure of their content.

So, returning to the concept of "boring cities."  A small town in Oregon apparently got the spirit of this.  To make their point crystal clear, they even named it Boring.  It's not far away from the irredeemably interesting Portland.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Time at the Beach

I took a few days off down at 30A, the Rosemary Beach - Seagrove area in Florida.   It is near Panama City, but  is more leisurely and less party-oriented than P.C.  No, it's not tacky.  The prime recreational activity involves taking leisurely strolls on the sand.  The water is too cold to swim in; but wading in is okay until your toes get too cold.  Many visitors dress beach-style in swimsuits or shorts, but possibly might accessorize with a windbreaker.  We stayed in a upstairs room above a carriage house.

This outing was quiet, romantic place for relaxation, rather than rowdy. Rowdy is okay, but tiring.  What's it like in a off-season coastal town?  It's quiet, serene, and less expensive.  And less fashion-conscious.  A cup of coffee and a chocolate pie or ice cream is the afternoon delight.


Well, maybe not that much . . . . Later, after returning to the grindstone, I had some flu virus that kept me inactive upon returning.  I'll post something more extended when I'm at full speed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

My Favorite Posts

A few weeks ago, both Bilbo and Heidi posted a link to their favorite posts, well-worth revisiting!  I thought I'd do the same.  Here are some of mine.  I hope you find them amusing.

The Girls of NPR:

The Prophetess Discourses on Undies:

Erin Go Braless:

[For some reason that I cannot fathom, this post got over 6000 viewings.  Is there that much interest in spoofs of old Irish legends?]

The Muses as Underachievers:

PETA Tries to Rescue Schrodinger's Cat:

Polygamy As an Economic Option:

Good-bye for a few days!  I hope you have a nice week or so!  Angel.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Helicopter Parents

A perjorative terms has crept into colloquial English: helicopter parents

'Helicopter parents' is a term recently used by college administrators to refer to parents of teen or college-age adults or young adults being overly involved in the minute details of their children's everyday lives.  It's like they're consistently hovering around, rather than letting or requiring their child to deal with the college or other experiences  on her own.

The 'helicopter parents' are, most of the time, more accurately 'helicopter moms.'  As a T.A., I've had to deal with them now and then.  More in the role of entertain-the-mom-while-her-daughter-sees-the-prof-or-advisor, but sometimes to explain why I cannot provide her her kid's grade or even raise it.  (They might try the "just between us girls" approach, or pleading, or even trying to summarily order me to.)  My impression is that they are very enmeshed in their daughters' lives (less often their son's), and see themselves as omniscent.  They live their children's lives vicariously.  They might even attend classes together for the first few weeks!  

To be sure, these parents see the world as considerably more complex and competitive than it was supposed to be at one time; and they feel that they need to give their children an edge over the competition (other children) for grades, scholarships, athletic letters, and even jobs. 

This this term really achieved currency because the existence of these helicopter parents tended to impact on the working lives of college administrators.  In general, unlike the days of yore when in loco parentis was the rule and panty raids were the typical annoyance they had to deal with, the college administrators cultivated an ostrich-like ability to overlook problems unless it bites them on the behind!

College life changed somewhat too.  In the case of some selective admissions universities, they base admissions on things like grades, extracurricular activities, diversity, and even having other family members as alums.  Therefore, it is not surprising that a certain amount of manipulation of these goes on.

There's grade inflation.  Particularly with extra credit given for Advanced Placement courses.

And extracurricular activity inflation.  It's no secret that several schools have faux extracurricular activities that serve to get those who are "members" something appear in the yearbook picture for, or to list as an extracurricular activity for college admissions.

I suppose it's possible to play the ethnic card in a few cases; but listing oneself as a WASP gains no diversity points, even though they are a minority.

And middle-class parents see themselves as more active in other areas.  Remember, these were the soccer moms and dads.  These were the ones that were encouraged, even pressured into involvement with P.T.A.s, coaching, church Bible study classes, and other things.  For some, they don't have clear guideposts as to when to let go.

Actually, there's an historical antecedent for helicopter parents.  When Douglas McArthur entered West Point in 1899, his mother moved into a suite at Craney's Hotel, overlooking the Academy.  Presumably, Douglas could not party like it was 1899!  

The most extreme case of helicopter mothering I ever heard about* was a divorced one who took an off-campus apartment with her daughter as a roommate when she went off to college.  And they were known to double date on one occasion!  I did not have the nerve to inquire into more details about their inhibitions or lack thereof!

*And, thank God,did not observe!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Putting a New Look on Belly Dance

Madame Lynette had a problem:  Despite her many efforts to advertise her studio, Madame Lynette's School of Belly Dance, it showed a downward trend in enrollments.  Let's face it: popular recreation and self-improvement classes undergo periodic waxings and wanings.  Remember découpage?  It's been only a rumor for a long time.  Likewise jazzercise classes.  Same for aerobic golf and free-form hopscotch aerobics-- all passé!

Clearly Lynette saw a problem was getting worse, so she consulted Dr. Snoodley from the Marketing Department at the nearby university which shall be unmentioned to preserve whatever shards of a reputation it had. Dr. Snoodley, lit up a forbidden pipe of tobacco or some other mind-altering forbidden substance, and listened to poor Lynette's plaintive account.

Finally, Professor Snoodley, after several drawn-out Midwestern sighs, declared, "It's clear that you must repackage your product.  Let's face it: dancing sexily is just so 1990!  We're now in the second decade of the 21st Century, the Post-sexual Era!  And, while wearing an exotic costume consisting of harem pants or veils and a rhinestone-studded bra with a beaded fringe may be fun and appeal to your narcissist students, your classes needs more than that.  Your approach is not old enough to be retro, but it's clearly on the way out!  You need some effective adjective grafting in your ads to provide your belly dancing approach with a new look!" 

Lynette mentioned that belly dance can serve as a non-impact, weight-bearing exercise and is therefore suitable for all ages  Perhaps, she suggested, her ads could stress belly dancing for fitness.  After all, it's a good exercise for developing firm, well-toned abs and can prevent osteoporosis in older people.  Belly dance moves are beneficial to the spine, as the shimmy and the full-body undulation moves lengthens through decompression and strengthens the entire column of spinal and abdominal muscles in a gentle way.

However, Snoodley indicated that there is a wide range of competing activities that claim, sometimes rightly, to have health benefits.  And, unfortunately, by emphasizing the health aspects, this subliminally signals to the audience that it is very demanding and not much fun, like calesthenics.

Professor Snoodley said, "No, you need some effective buzzwords.  Let's see now, what rings peoples' chimes nowadays?  New and improved?  An oldie from the 1970's, but your prime demographic might be unaware of that.  Feminist?  This is a really a stretch; but most people pay little attention to the meaning of buzzwords.  Holistic?  A very positive karma concept.  Now there's a word that is vague enough to promise outcomes that fit into whatever self-improvement goals they may be vaguely forming."

Professor Snoodley was on a roll now.  He began to channel the spirits of long-departed marketers.  "Let's see . . . . How about tantric as an adjective . . . . To harmonize the student's chakras?  That sounds so exotic and New Agey!"

[Actually, it is a Hindu concept, but neither comparative religion nor Mid-Eastern dances are extensively studied by marketing majors.]

"Your personal name . . . .It sounds so uncomprisingly Western . . . . Why not use a foreign-sounding nom de danse instead?  How about Madame Naomi or Ouida?  It sounds so mysterious, seductive, yet accessible and friendly?  I think these ideas might work."

So Lynette renamed her studio Madame Naomi's New and Improved  School of Holistic Feminist Tantric Belly Dance and Chakra Harmonizing.  It became instantly a hit among the trend-seekers in the discriminating market of Southern California. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Smug Parent Alert

For some, parenthood is a competitive sport, especially between siblings or neighbors.  It used to be sufficient to rear a child who was not seriously delinquent and who made good enough grades in school; but now the goal is to produce a paragon!  Even better: a paragon that displays their parenting style as being so superior and enviable to the inferior competition!

I'm afraid that this is true with regard to people who claim some French ancestry, however remote.  Louisiana is a far piece from the hexagone and Louisiana children will not be admitted to un grand école in Paris, (especially the ENA, thank God, where they learn to be officious administrators!) but still there is this desire for them to excel, even if it means the child majoring in pre-med or pre-law at L.S.U.  Heaven forbid that Junior has a room-temp I.Q. and the ambition of a cable T.V. employee or sociologist; they must squeeze, cajole, prod, and generally whip him into line and checking off all of those Super Parent Criteria!

But the University is a far distance away in the future.  How can you put some gloss on your little moppet?  One way is to cultivate exemplary television viewing habits for him or her.  And let your snotty cousin hang her head with shame because she allowed her little Hortense to watch Animalmaniacs or Pokémon instead of PBS. 

But let's face it:  It's not enough for your child to do well: the process is just as important as the product.  You must out-parent the others.  Have some remarkable claim to parental fame.

Breast feeding, which became de rigeur for with-it parents back in the 1980's, is now considered so mainstream that only those who continue until the child is about six or seven warrant any kind of fame.  And you're expected to have your child take music lessons, and learn a second language, and play soccer and t-ball, and learn to meditate.  Good golly, you all, it's hard to be a competitive parent nowadays!  Some refuse to play, and homeschool their children.  Or is that the nuclear option in competitive parenting?  This is generally not advised, as parents who try this may tend to procrastinate lessons with time and often have nutters in their support systems.

Some parents use the ultimate Luddite extreme: no TV and internet for their children.  Some even refuse to use those amusements themselves.  Richard von Krafft-Ebing named that kind of tendency masochism after a little-known Galacian writer of soft-core porn.  After all,  keeping up with the Kardashians is addictive!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Zeitgeist Surfboarding

The Germans have a word for it, and it's not surprising that it sounds as profound as can be: Zeitgeist, which literally means "spirit of the times." It refers to the intellectual climate, the sum total of ideas, including prejudices, that influence individuals' thoughts in the era in question.

Politics and academe have several things in common: both areas are inhabited by individuals who are extraordinary bloviators, who dress outlandishly, who wish to shape opinions, and who have the remarkable gift for making minor ideas sound like profound insights. (Like J-P Sartre). 
But, hey, it's all in the packaging! These are merely like the people who can put so-so or even crappy beer or perfume in cute, eye-catching containers and make those bottles sell!

I use the term Zeitgeist surfboarding to refer to the immediate tendency of people who want to be opinion-shapers to latch on to an idea, present themselves as one of its important proponents, and ride this developing wave for their own advantage. Part of the problem is that we put a premium on innovativeness: if it's new, it must be good. Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.

This somewhat like my putting on a brief sequined cheerleader costume, strutting to music while twirling a baton, and positioning myself in front of a parade -- "Gee, Angel really looks swell leading the band and parade! She must be -- ta da! -- a leader!"  People do the equivalent all the time.  And most cannot separate the trend surfers from the real innovators.

In short, this Zeitgeist surfboarding is the act of trying to look current and fashionable as a career move, even to the extent of using the language of administrationspeak or mellowspeak. "Let's see now, we should deal with the formidable challenges imposed by events through empowering all shareholders in a multiparadigmatic and multidisciplinary approach that will allow us to embrace change."

Remember the parachute pants? Or the Jellies? Maybe not. That's the nature of fashion: here today, gone tomorrow. Or that can be hair today, gone tomorrow.  Maybe there's hope that we'll see the last of the mullet?

Here's a few ideas that are bruited about by the Butthole Surfboarders . . . . . oops, that's a former minor band.*  I mean the Zeitgeist Surfboarders.

1. Cultural relativism. Yeah, we should be sensitive to cultural differences, and not be disposed to judge other cultures harshly in light of our own values. But, does that mean that we also have to buy the whole package of uncritical cultural acceptance, such as female genital surgery, polygamy, infant abandonment, or even soccer hooliganism? 

2. Postmodernism. Truth is made rather than found. But these postmodernist puppies are either woefully unskilled at making truth or looking for truth in all the wrong places! Yes, all political and social discourses are saturated with cultural and ideological biases that seek legitimacy and have an equal right to it. Yes, and maybe the Boob Fairy will visit me sometime. So, let's celebrate our differences even though some ideas are generated by the likes of Suzanne Somers, Rush Limbaugh, or L. Ron Hubbard; not to mention that distinctively unpleasant minister from the Westover Baptist Church!.

Celebrate! Celebrate!. Dance to the muuuusic!
-- K. C. and the Sunshine Band

3.  Feminist criticism. "It's all the men's fault that things are the way they are and we womyn can do it better!" Look at how proficient we are in conducting our lives!

4. Criticisms of science.  Scientific reasoning is based on a Western view of the world and is stridently left-brained in its preference for logic and cause-and-effect. But there are alternative paradigms, and some argue that we should think of these as well. For examples, think holistically, go in for homeopathy, crystal-gazing, aromatherapy and feng shui. Oh well, at least with aromatherapy I can mask possible athletic or canine odors.

5. Big Band music. This was okay for gramp's time, and I will admit that some numbers are catchy, but much of it is really tedious.

6. Wearing ribbons to promote various causes. Okay, you can wear a pink ribbon to indicate support of breast cancer research, or a yellow ribbon for our troops, but there's a proliferations of ribbon-wearing and no seeming clarity as to what they signify. It's possible to wear a ribbon from a box of chocolates and no one inquired as to why she feels so strongly about Godiva's!  It's an opportunity to appear to be so sincere while being their usual shallow self.  Or maybe they were just being polite regarding a lapse in taste?

7. Signing petitions just to be signing. There was a girl's school in New Jersey that got an incredible shaming a few years ago because many of its students signed a petition to "end women's suffrage," not knowing what the word "suffrage" meant?   People really need to think more and react less.   And maybe enlarge their vocabularies.  By the way, I am for women's suffrage or women holding public office because I really believe that women can equally royally screw things up as men seem to do so effortlessly.

8. Special mention should be made for the lemmings who signed any of the secession petitions on "We the People."  W.T.F., Alfie?  Why did you sign a petition for Vermont or Mississippi to secede when you live in California or Florida?  You need a hobby.  Or a sex life.  Or read a good book, for a change. 

*For true. 

Happy thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stripper Names

People can sometimes form or possess very specific concepts or schemas despite a very small amount of input into forming them.  I use as my example the apparent fact that a lot of people have a definite idea of what kind of name a strip teaser or lap dancer would probably have, despite an absence of direct, personal experience with those settings.

It may be surprising to some, but apparently people do form schemas with regard to personal names.  Naomi, Sakura, and Kirsten are exotic.    Bernadette and Marie are Catholic.  Jennifer, Heather, and Karen are girls next door.  Tammy and Peggy Sue are Southern or maybe Texan, and so forth. 

The same applies to what people think of "strippers' names.  To find examples of these, I found two lists purporting to be of the top ten stripper names:

‘Top Ten Stripper Names'

1.  Candy
2.  Destiny
3.  Star
4.  Amber
5.  Tiffany
6.  Sabrina
7.  Coco
8.  Raven
9.  Jade
10. After a city in The United States (e.g. Houston, Dallas)

1.  Destiny
2.  Candy
3.  Angel
4.  Cherry
5.  Raven
6.  Anastasia
7.  Roxy
8.  Houston
9.  Porsche
10.  Crystal

I'm not sure what sort of rigor was used in arriving at them, but it seems apparent that there are some schemas for this category of name.  The idea of a stripper named Catherine or Elizabeth seems rather far-fetched, I suppose.

Destiny, Candy, and Raven made both lists.  I humbly suggest that conscientious mothers refrain from naming their daughters those names or, alternatively, signing them up for stripping classes at the Rec Department.  (I hope there are no cities that offer this tacky type of course, but I am not confident.  Maybe in Las Vegas.)

I noticed something.  The name Angel made one of the lists.  Since my name is Angel, maybe I have an alternative career path instead of being a psychology professor or superheroine?

Stripper superheroines


Sunday, November 18, 2012


One of the more amazing of social phenomena that defies explanation is the persistence of the lower back tattoo on women, despite the fact that they are universally referred to as "tramp stamps." Even by some so tattooed.  Now no one to my knowledge has done any social psychological research linking this form of tattoo with any specific moral turpitude, but I expect any day some desperate graduate student will present a paper at Western Psychological Association or Southeastern Psychological Association reporting whether a significant correlation between the two exists. It's my private view that there's a modest correlation, say about .40 or so; but I hesitate to collect the data although some of it is easily accessible on southern or west coast beaches, and the rest is self-report.  Some things you just don't ask. 

But my point is not about the relationship between the two, but the persistence of the term "tramp stamp" despite the obvious implication of the term commonly used to refer to them. Does this represent a cultural shift, in which it's okay to be a tramp; or is it based on social class differences?  After all, tattooing is more normative in certain populations.  It is still considered déclassé in some.

The phenomenon of the lower back decorative tattoo is, if anything, more prevalent in Germany. There they are referred to as "arschgeweih" (ass antlers). Now that's a neutral term that I offer as a substitute to allow the female enjoyers of the lower back tattoo to wear one without experiencing shame or anyone casting aspersions.

I probably will not be posting anything on my blog in the early part of December.  A friend and I are going on a holiday together and we will be occupied!!!!  In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the holiday season!