Monday, July 30, 2012

Cheerleader Tryouts

I had absolutely no reason to be there, as I had about as much chance of being chosen as a snowball would have in the climate of Hell; but I am truly impressed with the absurdity of life and feel that part of life is embracing madness from time to time. Besides, being a student of psychology is so, well, bourgeois that there is an occasional need to break the boundaries of convention.  And it would totally confuse the dickens out of some of the professors!  One in particular, a hyperfeminist.  She was from New York, and consequently was always surprised with the mores of the local area.

What the hell!  I was talked into doing it by a friend, an old high school classmate, who presented as an idea of doing 'just for the heck of it.'  That same notion boosted me into truancy when I was younger, and other indiscretions.

It was a tryout for cheerleaders for a professional sports team, the New Orleans Hornets.  Ahhh, there were over 250 of us dressed in shorts and tops of various degrees of modesty crowded into a gym.  We tried out three at a time on a choreographed dance number before the selection judges and a crowd of onlookers who added to the setting.  The ultimate goal: the selection of 20 from the local area. I went, well armed with irony and the spirit of fun.  It was not like I had what it takes (toilet paper, notwithstanding).

I thought I was physically fit, if not as pneumatic as some of my competition; but running through the paces was quickly exausting. Wow!  Cheerleading is hard work! Actually, it's mainly dancing, and I'm not a household word in my gracefulness.  (Guys liked to dance with me, as I made them look good by comparison.)  However, I kind of got into the spirit of things, and my competititve blood got flowing.  I jumped, and danced furiously. I was gonna show 'em!  Unfortunately, my tennis shoes slipped and I fell unceremoniously on my fanny!

I rated a smattering of applause.  But no halftime and intermission dancing for me!  Ah, that is for the graceful of foot, among other things.

One of my aunts saw me on television in the background when there was a brief panning over the participants as part of the news report on a slow day (no homicides).  Needless to say, she called this fact to all of my relatives.  And also let all and sundry know that she was not pleased.  She wouldn't be.  Mama told her to hush. 

I later visited a voodoo shop to get something to retaliate for her meddlesomeness.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Too Much Negativity!

I don't mean the negativity in the political arena; we pretty well have to take that as a given in today's ungenteel and abusive way of doing things if goons have their sway.  Instead, I refer to the seeming creeping of this rampant negativity into our everyday language.  Amazingly, we have a state of 21st century English in which there are words that exist only in the negative.

Take uncouth.  I'm sure we all have met people who might be described as uncouth; but have you ever heard of someone as being couth?  Likewise we can encounter inept actions, words, or even suitors; but have you ever heard of any of those things being described as ept?

Mobs are unruly; but church-attendees are not usually described as ruly, especially if the sermon is too long.  And warlords tend to be ruthless; only those named Ruth can be said to be ruth.  Anyway, none of those who believe that the quality of mercy is not strained are ruthful.

Most college males tend to look unkempt on Sunday morning, whether they wake up alone or with company; but how often do they pass muster as looking kempt?  Okay, maybe that's a bad example in the case of straight male undergraduates?

In my case, I typically am dishevelled in mornings; at least until I have had my coffee and a session with the hairbrush I'm a blonde Medusa!  Afterwards, I'm still not shevelled, darn it!

That makes me disgruntled.  But after all, have you even encountered a gruntled Angel?  But don't be dismayed, even though you can't be mayed in the active sense.

On the other hand, maybe all is not bad.  After all, a Sir Galahad-like guy might be peerless.  While it's a shame that there are not more like him, maybe we should give thanks that he is not peerful; that would fit drunken frat boys!  Given that thought, I beg you to be consolate rather than disconsolate even though you have to linguistically fudge in order to do so!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

That's How It Rolls!

Finally it happened.  The long-standing argument between Republicans and Democrats was largely resolved because of several factors:  (a) Those old hot button issues got resolved one way or another. It was quite amazing that this came to pass, but time has a way of smoothing over things.  (b)  Too many people decided that the politicians were acting collectively like douches and were not to be taken seriously.  As a result of that, the two parties decided to play nice, for a change.

It transpired that the two parties prepared a love feast, and resolved to live together in perfect harmony, and be tolerant of their foibles. Republicans tried white wine, and liked it; Democrats experimented with martinis, and pronunced them "good." And both found that gay marriages, paté, and skinny dipping was really okay and a matter of choice.   A Kardashian was voted Governor of a Western state, and Lindsay Lohan was elected to the House.

Issues such as abortion, health care, immigration, and religion became the stuff for the dustbin of history: they were truly a matter of the past, much like Free Silver and Prohibition.

America went into a true golden age. And the only group to suffer were the newspaper and television journalists. However, sportswriters and gossip columnistswent into a true Arcadia!   Given that there was less hard news, people turned more to sports and the real-life actions of celebrities.  Newspapers had to rely on gossip to massage their readership into reading. It was just as well that Hollywood was still able to manufacture notoriousness and scandalous behavior: Tinseltown had almost a hundred year's history of doing that.

All wondered at this Golden Age, and thanked their deity of choice for this blessing.  Atheists thanked Darwin.

But a little issue began to fester with time. People became increasingly aware that the perennial question was unresolved: Over or Under?

Specifically, should people hang the toilet paper so that it unwinds over or under the spool? It may surprise you that serious research has been done on that topic. I mean serious research, and repeatedly!  [Replication is good: it helps provide grad students with employment.]

For instance, on January 27, 2010, the 100th anniversary of Thomas Crapper's death (no s**t!), Cottonelle launched a "Great Debate" advertising campaign, inviting American consumers to vote their preference at a Kimberly-Clark website. The result was that 72% had voted a preference for having the toilet paper go over the spool. In other surveys, Cottonelle found that "Overs" are more likely than "Unders" to notice a roll's direction (74%), to be annoyed when the direction is incorrect (24%), and to have flipped the direction at a friend's home (27%). Clearly, this is something about which there are strong feelings!

It was a slow process, but over the next twenty years these strong feelings resulted in 26 states mandating that toilet paper always unroll over the spool, and called violations were considered a misdemeanor in law.  Unrolling it under the spool was required by law in 11 states, largely in the Northeast but also including Oregon!

However, the real violence started in Iowa, of all places. A fracticious group, the Under the Roll Liberation Front, demanded minority rights for those preferring the toilet paper to go under the roll, and began a guerilla campaign of changing the orientation of toilet paper rolls in rest rooms and home bathrooms. This underground movement spread enough for the Governor of neighboring Illinois to declare a state of emergency and post guards along the Mississippi River to keep the Under the Roll advocates from invading his state! The NY Times and the Chicago Sun-Times had pro- and con- editorials on this toilet paper movement. There were Under demonstrations and Over counterdemonstrations that were viewed nightly on the news, and the pundits weighed in whereas before they had to be content weighing in at the health club.

And the media was, paradoxically, happy. And the major proponents of the Under and Over movements got a lot of attention.  But, things can go to extremes.  Some Fundamentalist television ministers began to clamor for a crusade to suppress this heresy! 

The Albagensians did not have toilet paper in those days, so we cannot say whether they would hang toilet paper so that it unrolls under or over the spool.

The righteous way of hanging toilet paper.

The way of hanging toilet paper chosen by heathens.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Suggestions for a Successful Topless Protest

A series of protests demanding equal rights for women to go topless as men are scheduled to take place on August 26, 2012.  If everything does according to plan, as reported at [Note: NSFW], there will be a series of topless rallies in several locations in the country, one of which is Asheville.   This event, locally termed Go Topless Asheville, should be meticulously planned.  Our Tarheel protesters should look upon this as a golden opportunity to make the best impression possible.  Asheville and the rest of western North Carolina depends on everyone doing her part!

Accordingly, here are a few modest suggestions for making the occasion memorable.  After all, we are competing for news coverage with tough competitors, including the perennial favorite, Austin, Texas.

1.  Participants should prpare for the event by spending a little quality time at the gym doing ab crunches and otherwise getting their bodies toned for the occasion.  It is fortunate that this event is held in late summer, when bodies are at their most trim and fit. 
2.  While having a nicely tanned body would be nice, it is not recommended that you spend time in tanning booths in preparation.  Instead, a spray-on tan would suffice.
3.  Depending on your degree of tan, use the appropriate sunscreen on sun block.  Be especially sure to apply to areas not normally covered by sunscreen as well.  Enlist the assistance of your boyfriend or neighbor to help in the application of sunscreen in these areas, if needed.
4.  Be sure to shave appropriately as needed: underarms, legs (if wearing shorts), and moustaches (if needed).
5. Be sure to coordinate the topless protest activities with the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Board, to help maximize the commercial impact the activity will have on the Asheville economy.  These professionals may in turn provide suggestions to improve this year's event.
6.  Have a well-written brochure to spell out the points that you are trying to make with this topless protest.  Decorate the table to maximize its visibility.
7.  Take the opportunity to include brochures from other Asheville tourist destinations, including Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
8.  Enlist the local and regional televised media's support for the protest.  Perhaps one or more television stations may send a reporter who will interview participants while topless also!
9.  Invite local business clubs and church groups to support Go Topless Asheville through announcements and group participants, if desired.
10.  Hold a special body painting category for the Go Topless events.  In order to increase participation in this category, encourage especially the wearing of white and Tarheel blue (UNC), blue and white (Duke), or red and white (NCSU) body paint.
11.  Alternately, participants may wear beads in their institution's colors.  [Where can I find baby blue and white beads?]
12.  If last year's Go Topless event can be taken as an indicator, expect a large number of male attendees.  As indicated by pictures from last year's event, some even wore bras!  It would be desirable to sponsor activities suited for these gentlemen, so as to encourage their support.  Their presence is uplifting, even for as long as 18 hours.  One possibility is to have a weird or exotic bra category for guys!
13.  When you shed your clothing for the Go Topless event, be sure to wear a stylsh, lacy bra.  Don't wear some ill-fitting and solely functional one from a discount store -- wear a bra you can be proud of!
14.  Finally, dare to go bare!  It's your moment in the sun.  Totally! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

His and Hers Navel Jewelry

The fashion mavens have decreed: In Summer, 2012 going around with an unadorned navel is so passé.  Several factors converged to make this a reality.  (1)  Summer, 2012 promises to be hotter than usual; and there will be a longer period of time when wearing little clothing is practical.  (2)  While the economy is allegedly on an upswing (at last), timid shoppers are more likely to respond through small purchases.  (3)  Generation X, and its followers Generation Y, are following baby boomers like Madonna in deciding to be less reticent in their bodily display.

Now no one wants to put on her bikini and feel underdressed.  And with the daring navel-flaunting fashion styles heralded in Elle and Vogue, the fashionista is inclined to emphasize her focal asset.  [Word from Paris and Milan: bosoms are out; navels are in.]

Igor Dulance, premier designer of fashion needed a new twist to this trend in order to be ahead of the fashion curve.  After several Camparis, and moments meditating at church, he has an inspiration:  Why not launch a fashion trend that would increase the number of possible navel jewelry wearers?

He consulted his so-chic designer staff.  One of them, Matt, suggested increasing that target range of possible jewelry-wearers.  However, targeting underaged girls would produce negative reactions, and most boomers still preferred more inhibited, non-revealatory styles.  Therefore, those were not prime candidates to be targeted.  So who's left?

Igor said aloud, "Guys.  Yes, by golly, guys!!!"

But most males are not fashion-conscious.  On the other hand, as the French said, "Vendez aux dames," for many reasons.  One is that they are more fashion-conscious.  Another is that some engage in retail therapy.  Finally, there's the timeless problem:  what special sort of gift to get him?

Igor asked for possible ideas for designs.

Brenda suggested that they could issue a NFL or MLB logo line; it should not be hard to get the rights for it from the NFL or MLB teams.

Clarissa piped on, "We could sell them in hardware stores  or those big box sports fashion emporiums also!"

But it was Hortense Guillard who thought of the real clincher: his and hers navel rings!  Among the avant garde they could replace earrings.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Semantics of Wearing One's Pants Low

One of the fashion faux pases that are inflicted on moderns is the sight of young men (or older) wearing their pants low, so that there is an unseemly display of underwear.  Bilbo quite eloquently remarked on this dismal trend, along with other sartorial misdimeanors (  In response to the general unhappiness with low-hanging pants, several communities have enacted statutes against this nefarious practice.

To be sure, using codified law as a means of enforcing trouser uniformity has its problems as well also benefits such as on the moralistic or even esthetic dimensions.  There is the issue of free speech.  Is wearing pants low so that one's underwear is showing a form of free speech expression?  At the very least, can "I don't have a belt to wear" or "Don't you think my butt looks cute" constitute examples of free speech?

What would Thomas Jefferson think of this?  I would hope that he would not think very much or very long.  Pants being worn so low would not please a mind embued with the Age of Reason.

And then there is the possibility of sex discrimination.  A clever lawyer with cheek can argue that laws restricting low riding pants discriminate against guys; after all, only possibly in Salt Lake City would people show dismay over whale tail thong display or even buttocks décollété on the part of a nubile damsel! 

Furthermore, laws regarding pants being worn low might also serve as an unwarranted assault on the cherished perogative of plumbers.  We do not want to plumb the depths of a labor issue by passing laws like this, do we?  Surely there will be no wisecracks about this!

And what about the other extreme.  Shouldn't guys who wear their pants too high so as to show an unseemly sock display also be subject to official censure?  And wouldn't this be a form of discrimination against nerds?

But what is the message in wearing pants low so that the male undies are displayed?  I have found several subtexts:

1.  Boxers versus briefs.  This is a subtle distinction between the boxer-wearing extroverts and the brief-wearing introverts.

2.  Wearing one's sister's panties -- "I want to experience my anima, the softer side of myself, today.

3.  Wearing superhero briefs, like ones with Spiderman or Superman on them -- "I live in a fantasy world."

4.  Hello Kitty briefs -- "I don't mind you picking on me today."

5.  Political underwear -- "I am a Democrat or a Republican and I need to lighten up and diversify my interests."

6. Visible skid marks -- "I want a seat on the bus by myself."

7.  Holey underwear -- "I have a religious vocation."

8.  Underwear color-coordinated with pants -- It can mean either that the wearer has a fashion sense, or is the result of a happy accident of selection due to what underwear is left before washday.

9.  Wearing lowriders but no boxers or briefs.  "I feel cheeky today" or "I am an anarchist."

10.  Leopardskin patterned thong -- I have this fantasy of myself as a Las Vegas showgirl.  (Slightly more kinky if the wearer is a guy).

11.  And we should not forget certain individualistic messages:

a.  I have no wish to be gainfully employed or to attain public office.
b.  For my own reasons, I want to annoy my grandparents.
c.  I'm so daring, I'm wearing a thong (usually by females).
d.  I lost my belt, and I'm trusting fate that my pants won't go to the ground.
e.  I'm protesting something.  Perhaps it's the chilly tail breeze.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

South of the Border

While motoring towards South Carolina, I saw a surreal vista: a oversized sombrero.  My first thought was scary: somehow, that taco I had up the road was either tainted, causing me to hallucinate, or someone had slipped me a Roofie but did not know I was on my hurried way.  I pulled into that site, and found it filled with various oversized figures: a grinning Mexican type, a supersized bunny wearing antlers, an alligator kicking people, and other strangeness.  There was even a water tower with the slightly rude initials "S. O. B." on it!  I asked for medical assistance to cope with my unknown but potentially serious hallucinations, but was told that the place is always just like this.  I had blundered into South of the Border, a theme park combined with a monster tourist trap straddling the interstate just over the NC-SC line (hence South of the Border).

I soon ascertained that the natives speak a kind of English, and American currency is welcomed, but with not very favorable exchange rates. 

Being a good citizen, I went through customs.  I had no desire to spend time in a third world prison!

This place is totally bizarre, politically incorrect, and touristy in the funniest sense.  Don't forget your sense of humor when visiting.

Poor South Carolina! So far from God and so close to the urban centers of the Northeast.

-- Misattributed to Porifio Diaz.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Why Do You People . . . ."

I've noticed that someone from outside of the South is apt to sally into a criticism of the South with an opening like "Why are/do you people [fill in space] or Why aren't/don't you people [fill in space], like:

Why do you people seem to be so obsessed with football?
Why do you people eat grits/crawfish/alligators/yams?
What do you people see in barbecue?
Why don't you people show more energy at work?
Why do you people say 'you all'?
Why do you people elect such silly people to state offices?
Why do you people put old sofas on porches to sit on even though they are really indoor furniture items?
Why aren't you people in [insert state or city] as efficient as we are in L.A.?

Anyway, you get the drift.  There's this mania for sameness, the fixed smile, the mown lawn, the obsession with speed and productivity.

In Louisiana, we have a staying that we work to live; we don't live to work.

And sometimes the answer to those questions is:

Because it's fun.
Because they taste good.
Because they amuse us.
Because we don't want to be.
Because I want to do it!

and a number of other plausible answers.

Actually, the incident that started me getting on edge happened while I was a preteen.  I overheard this officious woman with a Northern accent ask my mother disapprovingly, "Why do you people let your daughter dress like that?" 

Mom simply responded, "Because it makes her happy."  Imagine that: Mom thought that my happiness or joy was a sufficient justification for me to wear play clothes! 

There's a surprising little scene in The King and I.  The King of Siam was attempting in the play (and in real life) to discourage British imperialism by proving to imperial Britishers that they were already civilized, thank you kindly.  He had the ladies of his court dress like Englishwomen, and eat English-type food.  They were not convinced.

The scene, which tended to play on the stereotypes of Asian women being silly and cute, had the Siamese ladies sing:

"To prove that we're civilized,
They dress us like barbarians!"

In all, the tables were slightly turned.

That, in a nutshell, is the basis for the issue: the grandiose assumption some people have that they have the only correct answers, and everyone else is de facto wrong.

Hawaii is sufficiently different and remote as an American state so that the visitor expects that things will be different, and it's okay.  After all, it's part of the charm of that island paradise.  And it's far enough away and different enough to qualify as "exotic" [having hula dancers and ukulele music helps.]  But why not allow the same grace for Texas or New York or Rhode Island or Louisiana?  Do we have to take up hula dancing also?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting recently made the cover story for Time magazine, which admittedly went for the sensationalistic cover that sold a lot of magazines in airports (see below).   It even carried an implied challenge on the cover: Are You Mom Enough?

The idea of parent-child attachment is currently an accepted topic in developmental psychology.  Basically, this idea originated through the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, holds that the quality of  infant-parent attachment could be affected by parental style.  According to Ainsworth, children could become securely attached, insecurely attached, or avoidantly attached, and this could be diagnosed using the Strange Situation Test.  While the major emphasis was on mother-infant attachment, infants could (and desirably) become attached to fathers and others.  Furthermore, social psychologists have found that securely attached infants are more likely to have successful love relationships later on when they are adults.

Getting your baby securely attached sounds like a good thing, and the way to go.

[Let me say that I would try to breast-feed mine if and when I had one.  But I would do it quietly and privately.  I don't go in for the public flaunting of breast-feeding or getting on the case of mothers who don't.  To me, it's a private decision, not to be decided by group consensus.]

A few years ago, William Sears offered some general principles of attachment parenting.  Three of those are co-sleeping in the same bed, long-term breastfeeding (perhaps up tofour or five years old), and holding your baby close to you at all times (commonly called baby-wearing).

Attachment parents seem to have developed a cult of the supermom: incorporating this to an extreme degree; but also sometimes combining it with homeschooling, unschooling, organic foods, naturism, and even a paleolithic diet style.  In short, a smorgasbord of fads, cultic practices, and other practices out of the mainstream.  While these practices are certainly out of the ordinary, is there any evidence that the quality of the child's life or his/her attachment to the parent superior as a result of prolonged breastfeeding, babycarrying, or co-sleeping?  There needs to be some serious and critical research; but at present, not proven.  Neither Bowlby nor Ainsworth at any time suggested that those techniques be used.

In the meantime, perhaps a middle-of-the-road approach to parenting might be the way to go.  Margaret Ribble, in her book The Rights of Infants, advocated tender loving care and trusting one's natural inclinations as a mother (or parent).  Too often child advice has been concocted with an axe to grind, whether it's the puritanical notion that a dutiful parent should suppress the old Adam in her child to save his soul, or the unemotional, rigid scheduling parent style advocated by John Watson.

I asked my Mama about what she and Dad did, and their approach was pretty mainstream.  She did say that she enjoyed each of her children and now her grandchildren, and I certainly felt loved and that she could be a confidant.  That may be the key to it all, conveying through little things that you're glad the child is yours and responding to the small stuff. 


Completely unrelated, today is Bastille Day!  Long live France!

One other thing: Today is National No-Bra Day!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cowgirl Melinda Ponders Recent Trends in Government

Our heroine Melinda prefers being in the West because she feels freer there -- fewer restraints and conventions to live with.  However, even in Wyoming, it is not entirely a carefree Arcadia.  This is because in the co-ed bunkhouse there is the television, and some of the buckeroos insist on watching the news. And, amazingly, Sixty Minutes.  Melinda's attitude may be summarized as, "I'll give those geezers five minutes, no more!"

As a member of Generation Y, Melinda has become increasingly aware of the creeping influence of government into people's lives, and she didn't see this as good.  What about a little old-fashioned individualism?  She didn't want to be fenced in by some suits within the Beltway!  Now Melinda was not some hidebound reactionary, with unfounded prejudices.  As a person in the bunkhouse rumored to have a vagina, she knew something of these sorry attitudes; but she was content to follow the Code of the West: "Get her done!" "Do good work."  "Don't ask nosy questions of cowpokes."  She needed down time, so she played an album of old Western Songs to get relief.

One, however, caused her to think:

As I was out riding one morning for pleasure
I spied a young cowboy-a riding along
His hat was throw'd back and his spurs were jingling
And as he was riding he was singing this song.

Whoopee ti yi yo, get along little dogies
It's your misfortune and none of my own
Whoopee ti yi yo, get along little dogies
You know that Wyoming will be your new home.

And, oh my God!  It came to her: We're the dogies, us in Generation Y.  And those politicians, with their spending on stimulus money to bail out banks and GM and making health insurance mandatory, and God else those sapsuckers might come up with!  Or if they're not doing that, they're going into wars for dubious reasons and screwing up the environment and passing a lot of rules to confuse things and whatever else.

She reflected: This is what we get with the frontier being closed.  It used to be, a body could just go off and not be constrained. Now I'm okay with some.  Living with the state government in Cheyenne is small scale, kind of like wearing a bra.*  But why must we have to also wear this goddamned corset?*

*I hope that pro-government readers are not offended by comparing the objects of their enthusiasm to uncomfortable female undergarments.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Family Newsletter

Many families have a chronicler of family news, gossip, and barbs distributed in a tact-free, totally candid and opinionated, and on an irregular basis.  The advent of e-mail only gives them a greater range of mischief and unlimited sharing without massive postal expense.  And, unfortunately, her writing indiscretions are more likely to filter down into younger members, despite parents not sharing.  Here's a sample, pretty much of the type:

Hello, Everybody,

It's been a busy and largely successful year for us in the Sunshine State; and we were able to travel and visit everyone for this year.  Except for Marv, who is unknown on the road and his mother would like for him to call.  So, if you hear from Marv, tell him, "Call home, E.T.!"

Roger is still troubled by his hemorrhoids, although he would not like me to mention it, but that cat's out of the bag and in my opinion, he needs to eat bran flakes each day, whether he likes it or not.  He has gained twelve pounds this year due to unauthorized snacking.  On the plus side, Roger was recently recognized by his employer for 25 years of service. 

Connie is still at Berkeley, where she's in pre-law and it's costing us a fortune!  Matt is trying to find himself still; at least his probation officer has no problem finding him.  We still are hopeful; but he has been a disappointing son thus far. 

I've been doing a lot of organic gardening; it's the trend in Sunny California.  My beets cannot be beat -- ha!  My Seaside Earrings store has increased its sales by 36% over last year.  Healthwise, I get my colon cleaned every six months -- it's trouble and expensive, but it's worth it!

Isn't our current Governor Brown wonderful? 

Visited cousin Marie, her husband, and her five children.  They're still in New Orleans.  Jessica is too serious, I fear.  Heather is boy crazy; Marie had better keep her in line better or get her fitted for a chastity belt!  They really should build a fire under Little Tom; he's just drifting along at LSU Med.  I told her that Big Tom needs to be more of a hands-on parent and not just play doctor. When they married, I warned her that marrying a doctor was not a good bet -- too many distractions.  Haven't they heard about attachment parenting in Louisiana?  They seem to leave a lot to chance, like an untended garden.  I also think that they are closet Republicans.  Their youngest seems to be so timid and stutters.  And she's flat-chested, too.  As I told Marie, her little one could go topless and no one would notice!  If I were them, I'd get that girl some boob implants.

Granny still lives down there.  She doesn't get around as much by herself, and that's a good thing, probably, as she gets lost at times.  Once she drove as far as Baton Rouge and they had to help her drive back home.  She's still and L.S.U. fan.

Speaking of closets, Reese is now living openly with his lover Franklin in San Luis Obispo.  They earned "Yard of the Season" award from Garden Sprouts there.  Their garden and home are lovely; they have dealt admirably with the bursting of the real estate bubble.  I'm so glad they came out and are active in various gay causes.

Ms. Dubinsky next door is seeing a lot of Major (ret.) Benjy, and Mr. D. either doesn't know or doesn't care.  At any rate, she smiles a lot and has a healthier glow than I've seen in years!  Maybe she has a good thing; and Roger should watch out!

Great news!  Odette (my niece) and Richard have a new, bouncing baby boy!  He's Richard, Junior, and is the very apple of his parents' eyes! At four months, he's sleeping through the night and promises to be as smart as Grandfather was!  Odette needs still to lose the extra 25 pounds she took on as ballast.  Maybe Richard should tend the baby so Odette can go to the gym for a crash exercise course, and eat more sensibly!

Claire and Eteinne are doing nicely in Pensacola.  Other than Roseanne being brought home intoxicated by her boyfriend while we were there, they seem to be doing splendidly!  Eteinne managed to become a full partner in the law firm he belongs to, and they spend weekends on the Strand.  Wally is starting the University of West Florida this fall.  I don't know anything about the quality of that institution, but Claire likes to keep close tabs on him.  Needs to be more firm with Roseanne ......

We toured the Naval Air Museum while there.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

John Ball

In 1381, feudalism had mostly lost its original rationale; yet in England and other European countries it persisted.  This was a very stratified society; in which everyone had his or her place.  Most people were at the bottom; these were the serfs. Being a serf was mostly hard work and little compensation, like being a graduate assistant with no prospects for the future.

The ruling aristocrats basically lived well off the peasantry for centuries' however, in 1381, a peasant revolt broke out.  A renegade priest, John Ball, preached a remarkable sermon, the main point of which was this:
When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?  From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty
John Ball was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his efforts at instigating an Occupy Movememt, 1381-style.

This beautiful frontispiece appared in The Two Dreams of John Ball, by William Morris.

Let us hope that God gave this priest a pass into heaven.  And let us remember that speaking out against wrongdoing is an act of true courage.  And support other John Balls.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Prophetess Goes to the Races

Father McCready had a problem with a parish member, the Prophetess.  She was so sincere and pious, but often in misdirected fashions.  To solve this problem, he told the Prophetess that she should be involved in the Parish Ladies' Altar Society.  Being an obedient and priest-dominated parishoner, she joined.  Since she was the youngest, prettiest, and newest member of the group and was without any clout whatsoever, she was given the worst task for members of the Altar Society: fund raising for their impecunious parish, St. Cletus.*

It so happened that they embarked on a campaign to raise money for the parish.  Since it was a recessional economy, and the usual questionable sources were dry, The Prophetess consulted her on-street expert, Crazy Chester, who told her there was a fortune in horse racing.  In turn she told the Padre, and they decided to buy a horse and enter it in some races. 

However, at the local auction, the going price for horses was so steep that they decided to buy a donkey instead.  Although the priest really had some doubts, he figured that they might as well enter the animal in a race just in case it booted home and earned a small part of the purse.

It was a neat trick, but The Prophetess was able to charm the stewarts at the Fair Grounds into letting the donkey run the race.  It went off at 60 to 1.

To everyone's surprise, the donkey came in third.

The next day the headlines read: ST. CLETUS'S ASS SHOWS**.

The Priest and the Prophetess were so pleased: although they did write a polite letter to the sports editor that told him that it was a donkey, not a ass.   Some of the older members of the Altar Society cluck-clucked, but they were pleased with the purse money. 

The Padre and the Prophetess entered the animal in another race, and this time as a 20 to 1 shot it won outright.

The next day the headline read: ST. CLETUS' ASS OUT IN FRONT**
The bishop saw this headline, being a secret reader of the sports pages, and was upset at this sacrilege by those anti-Catholic sports writers.  But he got over it, since one of his lesser minions called St. Cletus's rectory and found out that Crazy Chester, acting on behalf of the Parish, plowed all of the winnings into betting the second race to win!

However, he was not happy a few days later when the donkey ran in a third race and came in second.

True to form, the sports page headline read: ST. CLETUS'S ASS BACK IN PLACE.**

He was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the priest not to enter the donkey in another race even though, to mix metaphors, it was an ass laying golden eggs.

The new headline read: BISHOP SCRATCHES** ST. CLETUS'S ASS.

This was too much for the bishop, and he ordered the priest to get rid of the animal. The priest gave the donkey to a nun in a nearby convent.

The next day the headline read: NUN HAS BEST ASS IN TOWN

This was too much.  They had to bury the bishop.


As for the ass, he went into show business in Vegas, a place more disreputable than New Orleans.

*St. Cletus was a real saint.  He was the third pope.
**In track terminology, the first three horses to finish are said to win, to place, and to show.  To scratch a horse means to remove it from the program.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Discovering a New Tourist Destination

Among people who love to travel, there's that competitive pleasure of actually discovering a new -- really new -- place to visit.  Now, I'm not talking about Henry Stanley trooping into Darkest Africa to find Dr, Livingston or Sir Francis Drake circumnavigating the world, but siply finding a known community that no one else that you know has gone.

At one time, that was easy.  You could claim to have been to Portland, find it to be satisfying weird, and be the envy of all for having discovered it.  Indeed, at one time Santa Fé was off the tourism map; before being discovered by the Beautiful People.  There was a time in which no one had ben to Flin Flon, Manitoba; and going there was an accomplishment.  But what can one do to be ahead of the curve, travel-wise?  In other words, how to play tourist oneupmanship?

The task is made more difficult by the fact that many cities have their tourism division, not impeded by the fact they they have nothing particularly interesting.  After all, Meridian, Mississippi has one, I think.  And Shreveport, Louisiana definitely does!  Well, I guess I made my point.

So how do you become a successful turista?  Just follow a few simple rules.

1.  Select a place that no one else is likely to have visited or even passed through.  Something off the interstates. 

2.  Avoid places with contrived tourist settings, like Helen, Georgia; but choose instead communities that are at least pre-Civil War, if not older.

3.  When you go there, check into your lodging, having determined its proximity to watering holes and local cuisine.

4.  While doing on-line searches, try to find places with eccentric festivals, like the Yambilee in Opelousas, Louisiana; or having a less common ethnic background , like Solvang, California [Hmmm . . .  .Danish!]

5.  If there a little risquéness, all the better.  There's a French town that has a Sacred Navel Festival!  Be the first one in your set to have gone there, and flaunted your inner or outie!  Of, if you're cheeky enough, you may go to Laguna Niguel, California to moon Amtrak!  The official date for this gala occasion is July 14, 2012 all day.

Mooning Amtrak

6.  On the other hand, you can deliberately go to dangerous places.  There's numerous lists of those, but here are a few I remember:  Detroit, Mogandishu, Baghdad, Checnya, Capetown, Rio, Tajikistan.  However, no fair if you go there, and stay in the local equivanent to a Courtyard.  I think that people who go to dangerous places are crazy!

7.  Go to some place that is utterly boring, like Oakland.  Or maybe it's not so much; but the contrast with nearby San Francisco makes it seem that way.

8.  Exaggerate!


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Imam Seismologist Explains Earthquakes

Women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes, according to senior Iranian cleric Hojatolam Kazem Sedighi.  He gave this warning after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted that a quake is certain to hit the capital Tehran and that many residents should relocate.

In his prayer sermon, the cleric said: 'Many women who do not dress modestly... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.'  He further declared that Iranians should adapt their “lives to Islam’s moral codes,” which require women to be covered from head-to-toe, if they want to avoid the same strong earthquakes that have occurred this year. A growing number of Iran’s younger generations are trading their traditional Islamic clothing for Western-style wardrobe to the chagrin of the conservative government.

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial

Strangely enough, the Governor of a Western state has recommended, on a strictly voluntary basis, that the citizens of his state voluntarily adopt less provocative swimwear, cease wearing short skirts and sundresses, and confine their sexual activities solely with their current husbands in order the placate the earthquake god.  A surprisingly positive response followed this gubernatorial recommendation; except, predictably enough, in Santa Monica.

Coast watchers are expecting a tsunami to come in any day now.