Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Morning Show Panel Discussion on Bras

In doing the local Morning Show, the producers thought that they found a topic that would draw surely big ratings for their program; and just in time for sweeps week!

Recently the results of an extensive 15-year study led by professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, affiliated with the University of Besançon in eastern France, made the news in that it apparently contradicted the usual beliefs about bras and back pain as being way off the mark: "bras are a false necessity.”

Missy, ever with her eyes on ratings and the possibility of moving up to a larger television market such as Atlanta or Dallas, enthusiastically went along with the topic.  Besides, she needed the money.  She quickly got the usual suspects of interesting people and idlers to serve on the panel, knowing that the admixture would give the interactions amount panelists some fireworks that would make for nice sound bits for promos: Al Gautreaux, her fellow newscaster, the Prophetess Madeline, Hilda Walspurgis, leader of Methodists for Purity Resurgence, the Lewd Dude, and Suzette, the Existential Stripper.

Missy started off with a quote by Professor Rouillin: "Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”   Some members of the panel appared shocked, or at least feigned being so.  "However, this respected French scientist used a slide rule and caliper, and carefully measured the orientation of breasts belonging to hundreds of women aged between 18 and 35 in his local area.  Those who did not wear a bra actually experienced a 7 mm. lift in their nipples in relation to their shoulders." 

Al opened with "I wonders if Professor Jean-Denis was incredibly handsome, to be able to easily gain so many volunteers, or did he give his subjects a little thrill to put them in the mood!"  Missy made a moué, but was secretly glad that Good Old Al came across with the hoped-for sound bite.

Immediately, the dam of discussion broke into several speaking at once:

Suzette, the ecdysiast, commented that her filles did not sag because of her chest exercises and the fact that she never wore a bra.  She offered a closer proof, but Missy indicated that it was not a good idea, given the F.C.C. 

Madeline, the Prophetess, observed that "there was no direct Biblical passage instructing women to wear bras; but that she always wore one when attending church and because she found some cute ones without underwiring that gave her confidence."  In making her comments, she opened that possibility that she sometimes went sans a bra, but admitted that she was un peu shy.

Hilda opined that those women who did not wear bras were nothing more than tramps, and that proper-thinking women should not follow the lead of strippers or untrustworthy French researchers.  Suzette jumped up, ran over, and gave Hilda's hair a yank, but was quickly restrained by the cameraman.  Even the ordinarily serene Prophetess assumed an angry look!  It was beginning to get a little Jerry Springerish.

The Lewd Dude, who was placed on the panel to increase the possibility of the discussion being heated and big in sweeps week, made an intelligent contribution: "Wouldn't the size of a woman's breast make it important for some to wear bras?  After all, D- and DD-cup ta-tas have some weight to support."  Missy made a face at the slang expression.

Al Gautreaux wondered, "Would time of the year be a factor?"  This totally confused poor Madeline until she remembered the effects of an unfortunate and atypical cold snap resulted in too much being revealed.

Hilda promised that he organization would have large numbers of buttons stamped, "Proud to wear a bra."  The Lewd Dude asked in reply, "Could cross-dressers wear them too?"  Hilda, totally missing the irony, said "Yes."

Father Devereaux, back at St. Cletus's Church, cringed to see two members of his congregation engaged in this unseemly topic on local television.  Local television could descend into tackiness, sometimes.

The usually tame Morning Show drew numerous e-mails and telephone calls, mostly favorable regarding the topic and the participants.  An excerpt of it even got reported in one on the East Coast newspapers, albeit with a snide, superior tone adopted when they reported on the foibles of Louisiana.  Yeah, like Today or The View had a lot of real content!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Casting the Bitch-Goddess Success

Sometimes Hollywood screenwriters have to come up with some new, imaginative approach in writing scenarios; the public soon gets jaded with reprises on the same theme!  After all, you can make only so many sequels and still drag the audiences in.

Now and then, they come up with something different:  Recently, it was Silver Linings Playbook.  It happened that they had two edgy, yet appealing, main characters, plus a strong supporting cast.  But these successes emerge amid a lot of deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would have said.

Allenby, one such screenwriter, came up with an interesting quote from an American pragmatist philosopher and psychologist, William James:

And he went, like, "Oh my god!  I got an idea that would sell!  Make the bitch-goddess success into a movie character -- a super heroine!"   In his thoughts he reflected that audiences like to see bitchiness and edginess.  The tarter the manifestation, the better audiences  like it.  [In both senses of that word.]  Consider Lindsay Lohan's best movie, Mean Girls.  Or the typical teen-oriented fare.  And what is more American than our obsession with success?   After all, who dies with the most toys, wins!

He raised the matter with his co-writer, J.R., suggesting a conferral to flesh out the idea.

J.R.:  Think you got something, Bay-bee!

Allenby:  Thanks, J.R.  But all we're working with now is the quote.  What kind of movie should it be?

J.R.:  Well, sci-fi or zombie movies draw in the audiences; sometimes for repeat screenings!  [It's a fact that part of the successes of some movies is that a portion of the audience pays to view it a second time, or will watch it through streaming, like Bridesmaids.]  Let's set it in a futuristic setting and throw in the usual hardware and a romantic interest.

Allenby:  Yes, we can make our Bitch-Goddess Success super sexy and seductive!  Have her wear daring costumes, and use sex, financial manipulation, and politics to accomplish her ends.  We can name her Donalette, or Sophia.  Make her a sexpot; that will draw in the yokels.  Let's go for some serious sideboob and underboob!  And have her wear some bright color, like orange!

J.R.:  Hmmm.......Let's have her write mortgages for sleazy banks, or deal in real estate speculation!  We're now tapping the sleazy side of life!  And, whether the audience will admit it or not, they like seeing people acting badly.

Allenby:  I hope you mean bad.

J.R.:  Sorry.  My bad.

Allenby:  I thought that the sleazy side of life would involve police work in squalid inner cities?

J.R.:  So, give 'em a new kind of sleaze.  Light on the politics, though; corporate wrong-doing is so 2013!  Don't bite the Hollywood hand, you know.  Just don't work Tinseltown in the story; we'll never sell the idea or it get backing if it bites Hollywood on the fanny!  No, set our Bitch-Goddess Success's activities somewhere in Flyover Country.  Who would you cast in the role?

Allenby:  How about one of the performers on the recent Video Music Awards program on MTV?  Now we'd really be showing the dark side of the American Experience then!   But make it as surreal as possible: Americans have long lost their appetite for film noir.

J.R.:  How about her stealing half on the corporate assets and putting them in Swiss Islands bank accounts?

Allenby:  I wonder if we could put a little politics in,kind of like on the House of Cards side.  Or maybe have Donalette be in some competition with other bitch-goddesses acting wicked.

J.R.:  People would identify with that.  That sounds very much like a typical high school or church.

Hurricane Katrine, August 29, 2005

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Staging an Updated Panty Raid

The sisters of Beta Rho Alpha sorority were in quandary when it came to planning their activity for Hellenic Retro Weekend.  The various ideas brought forward by the members lacked style; they were so, so, so old hat.  Now a songfest in which all wear poodle skirts and blouses with Peter Pan collars with circle pins seemed so stereo, it made one barf just to recount it!  And wearing crinoline skirts or raccoon coats was too expensive; even for the moneyed sisterhood.  After all, some had limited expense accounts and wanted to have enough to look superfabulous for the winter formal!

What about goldfish-swallowing, one pledge timidly offered?  She was immediately squelshed by her more PETA-aligned sisterhood who quickly made sure she saw the error of her ways!  Besides, the Hellenic Retro weekend was not something to be koi about!

Finally, it was Madison, a junior history major, who came up with a workable idea.  She recounted that in the 1950's and 1960's college males staged panty raids on women's dorms.  Why not bring the custom back with a modern twist?

President Karen opinioned, "Oh great, Madison.  You want us to get the frat boys from some house to come over and demand our panties?  This could get expensive; after all, we can't be throwing old granny panties to those guys.  It would hurt our reputation!  We would have to get super-sexy ones!"

Madison replied, "No, Karen, that's not what I had in mind.  Let's give our revival a modern feminist twist.  Lets stage a boxer and brief raid on a nearby frat house!"

This inspired the girls, who pledged to utter secrecy until the big event occurred.  The only thing was to work out which house to raid: a high-status fraternity or a nerd one?

I suspect that the nerds would have more interesting underwear.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Keeping Things in Perspective

"Every statistic measuring well-being in the last fifty years has gone north, but measurements of morale have gone south, because people focus too much on a mood system based on daily hassles.  So if you've got a hole in your swimming pool liner, you'll be as troubled as if you're worried that the Nazis are going to take your child away."

-- Martin Seligman, psychologist quoted in the Washington Post, December 24, 2002.

The moral is: don't sweat the petty things.  And don't pet the sweaty things.

There is an element of truth in this.  The reason is that people tend to concentrate on the short view, rather than looking at the longer perspective.

Let's look at a few pluses:

1.  Life expectancy for most people in the developed countries is fairly long, even despite differences due to social class and opportunity.  Moreover, it has actually lengthened in the past hundred years, especially for women.

2.  Disease makes less of an impact.  The last major pandemic was the Spanish flu one in 1919; but that one pales alongside the bubonic plague of 1346-49.

3.  Adequate medical care is available for more people in our society than had been the case.

4.  Southerners are not troubled by pellagra, malaria, or yellow jack like in the 19th century.

5.  Air conditioning.  Blessed air conditioning.

6.  Fewer people are going to bed hungry in the United States and in Western Europe than hundreds of years ago.

7.  Women are better treated in  most countries nowadays than they had been historically.  To be sure, there are still places where a woman would be crazy to visit, like in most of the Mideast.

8.  We can elect our public officials.  They often disappoint; but we can kick the bums to the curb every four years.

9.  Americans live in an incredibly beautiful land, and it should be savored.

10.  Chocolate pudding.

11.  While there are still wars, some of which may not have been a good idea to be involved in, at least none reached the level of World War since 1945.

12. It is so easy nowadays, and so convenient, to travel to many interesting places.

13.  Smart phones and cell phones are so available.

14.  Racism and sexism, while still around, are no longer considered acceptable stances of behavior by educated persons.

15.  It is really possible to obtain a comfortable and attractive bra.

16.  Childbirth is a less risky proposition than it was 150 years ago.

17.  Cable TV, so that we're not stuck with network TV.

18.  Long-distance travel is safer and more convenient than it was a hundred years ago.

19.  Better sanitation.

20.  Tuberculosis is no longer a major threat.

21.  There's beautiful music and art.

22.  And, finally, the possibility of loving someone!

Now I realize I've mixed really, really big things with things that are less important, but there's a lot to be happy about.  Both the little things and the big things count in subjective well-being.

Obviously, you can add a few on your own.

Therefore, count your blessings; and have a positive outlook on life.  Laugh!  Smile!  Love!  Indulge yourself! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Internet-Sanctioned Bêtes Noire

There's an amazing tendency on the internet that astonishes me in addition to the rampant incivility and tendencies toward flaming -- it's the unbridled willingness of some people to form herds of hatred toward some inconsequential popular figure that seems to be disproportionate to the alleged offense.  Here's some examples: Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Barney the purple dinosaur, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Lautner of Twilight.  Not to mention Fifty Shades of Grey or The Hunger Games.  It's like there's a universally received position that all adopt:  These are officially bêtes noire, and we are all expected to step into line and think so accordingly!

If there are people lurking that deserve that kind of opprobrium, those examples are just not them!  No, these are small fry in the scheme of things.

Let's look at things.   Strangely enough, politics lately generate fewer strong feelings of that kind, other than whoever happens to be President or some other major officeholder.  A few political commentators or opinion-shapers might fall into this circle, such as Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, or Ann Colter; but most don't draw that magnitude of response.  Likewise, few sports figures do, unless they happen to quit their team and city of location for better deals or places.  As I recall, even some of the certifiable world-class tyrants and scoundrels did not make this category.  Kim Jong-Un might be scary to some, but not like his dad.  Only the former and unlamented Osama Bin-Laden can evoke those emotions.

Probably a lot of this is explainable as due to the exaggeration of impact of voices from the callow, with the lack of any kind of aspiration towards quality.  The Cartesian formula "Je pense, donc je suis" has devolved into "Je parle, donc je suis" (I speak, therefore I am) or perhaps "Je signale sur l'Internet, donc je suis: ("I post on the internet, therefore I am.")   And proportionality or context is often lost in the process.

Barney the Dinosaur was intended for a preschool audience, not for adults.  And the Twilight series was, I presume, was for pre-teen girls: an audience who might not be oriented toward uncompromisingly tough characters as Tommy Lee Jones.  It's bizarre to expect that everything should directly appeal to you!

So, don't get your panties in a knot over the fact that some people like ABBA (Hey, John McCain does), or there are Beibers, or Swifties, or even Nickleback fans.*

Get real!

*Necessary disclaimer:  I am not a Beiber girl, or a Swiftie, or a Nickleback fan!  Glad to clear this up for the record.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Making a Graceful Exit

Just a thought -- it's going to happen to all of us.  But dying can be done with panache; or it can be done in a manner that is calculated to gross out people; or even worse, to resulting in titters.

From the start: location, location, location is, like in real estate, very important.  No one exits gracefully while using the toilet.  Think of Elvis Presley in that regard.  And it's not seemly to die while having sex.  Even in the missionary position with someone really amazing!  Actually, the people who are most at risk for that are adulterous old guys with heart conditions.  President Félix Faure comes to mind.  Or maybe it was his coming with Mme. Steinheil that does!  And, in all likelihood, being in a disreputable establishment like an opium den or the Legislature will do nothing to serve your postumous reputation.

Timing is essential.  Plan to die so that your funeral will be on a weekday, and co-workers have an excuse to get off of work.

Years ago, some Indian tyrant executed malefactors or other people he didn't like very much by using an elephant.  You see, this fan of King Babar had the victim's head placed on a block of wood, to be stepped on by an elephant.  Maybe he could have had them dressed in peanut or pecan costumes!

The British could think of some devilish means of execution, like hanging in chains and drawing and quartering.  They might be civilized eventually, if they ever give up soccer.

And the careful planner of Final Departures should not go out in a way that is likely to make You Tube, if possible.  On the other hand, I'm ambivalent on this.  I try to make people laugh or smile in my writing this blog; why not be amusing to all in the way I go?  It is said that the playwright Aeschylus died from being beaned by a bird dropping a turtle on his head, thinking his bald head was a rock.  Jean-Baptiste Lully, a French composer, died of gangrene from striking himself in the foot with his conducting staff, and King Edward II of England died from a red-hot poker being inserted netherward. 

Choose your good-bye clothing well.  Yes, dress for postumous success, and wear fresh, untattered underwear.  And, if female, a bra and stockings (not mesh)!  The absence of which will certainly be noticed and commented on if you have any modicum of celebrity.  Don't be buried in sweat pants, although yoga pants might be chic.  And, to demonstrate your essential adherence to custom, don't wear white shoes after Labor Day!

Prepare beforehand some quotable exit line.  The unprepared might go out and be remembered for such parting shots as "Oh shit!," "This is the damnest thing that ever happened to me!," or "My butt itches, for some reason."  Dorothy Parker had a zinger, "Excuse my dust."

And the same can be said for an epitaph.  Now in New Orleans several graves have epitaphs, like "Un soldat de Napoléon Premier (A soldier of Napoleon I)," "Mort sur le champs d'honneur (Died on the field of honor)," and "A lawyer and an honest man" (unlikely, unless the grave is shared by two).  Family tombs, not so much.  After all, it is understood that one will only have a temporary occupation.

[Maybe F. Faure should have rated a "Mort sur le lit d'amour!"]

Of course, it would be the ultimate in coolness to be sent out with a funeral with music, also called a jazz funeral.  In addition to "A Closer Walk With Thee" and "The Saints Come Marching In," throw in "Hold that Tiger" like a die-hard LSU fan!

In general, prepare for your exit so that it will be as cheerful and entertaining as possible for those left behind.  Leave them implicitly a message: Life's to be enjoyed; let the good times continue to roll!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Prefrontal Cortex and Risky Business

One of the more remarkable of the demographic facts is that teen mortality is largely due to risky behavior.  This risky behavior is also reflected in more accidents, more violence, and more overindulgence in binge drinking by college students.

This is particularly true with regard to young men; somewhat less for young women.  As a matter of fact, some sociologists speak of a "young male syndrome" to refer to the heightened levels of violence, crime, and risky behavior associated with young adult males.

Why is this late teen-early young adulthood period marked by so much risky business?  The answer may ultimately be neurological.

The brain does not mature evenly.  The prefrontal cortex is one of the last regions of the brain to attain full maturation. The prefrontal cortex controls some of the so-called “executive functions” of the human prefrontal cortex as:

1.  The ability to sustain attention;
2.  The capacity for long-range planning and problem-solving;
3.  Weighing the possible consequences of one's actions;
4.  Controlling one's impulses and refraining from inappropriate behavior;
5.  Developing a capacity to give up short-term rewards in favor of longer-term goals (delaying gratification);
6.  Modulating intense emotions;
7.  Being open to a greater range of information when dealing with complex problems.

Now this prefrontal cortex tends to be fully mature by about age 25 or so.  Unfortunately, the period of time preceding it is often the time when the person makes major life decisions.

This may in part explain the seeming aimlessness of college freshmen; their impulsivity, their delay in selecting a college major, and so forth.  College freshpersons are seen as wild, even by their upper classmates!

Unfortunately, this inclination towards impulsiveness and not looking at the big picture is present during the stage of life when the person is often making life-changing decisions: selection of an occupation or career, marriage, taking risks, or so forth.  For example, some fraternity boys at the University of Tennessee discovered last year a new method of alcohol intake: rectally.  They called this bizarre behavior "butt chugging."

Don't do this.  Okay?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Mayor, the Caudillo, and the Bikinis

At one time, Spain was not considered a primo tourist site, in part because it was a semi-pariah nation after World War II.  True, there were a few idiots who went to Pamplona to be chased by bulls, some deeply religious folk who did pilgrimages to Seville to see the creepy Holy Week rituals, and art lovers seeking the Prado. 

How tourism opened up, and how the bikini swimsuit first became acceptable in Spain was one of those improbable tales, made more so by an enterprising little Spanish mayor dealing with two relatively unsympathetic persons.

Mayor Pedro Zaragoza was mayor of Benidorm, a sleepy little village on the southern coast of Spain; and he saw some advantages for his community by attracting tourists from the northern Europe countries such as Germany, Britain, and the Scandanavian countries.  However, these summertime guests brought with them certain customs that troubled the very rigid Spain of that time: one was the bikini swimsuit.  Now this was the mid-1950's; and these swimsuits were then novel but hardly daring by today's standard, and Mayor Zaragoza was aware that they were commonplace in nearby countries.  Especially with the sun-craving British who primarily came.

Some of the Civil Guard (those Spanish guys who wear funny hats) arrested bikini-wearers for indecency for wearing bikinis, and the foreign tourists were less than happy.  No status associated with spending a weekend in a Spanish jail as a memento of a visit to sunny Spain!  Mayor Zaragoza saw that this was really driving away business, so he immediately on his own initiative declared wearing bikinis to be legal in Benidorm.

This breach of official morality enraged the local archbishop, who actually played the E-card on poor Mayor Zaragoza.  Yes, he went to far as to excommunicate Hizzoner, the Mayor.  Now that was playing hardball; in effect an excommunication in Spain could have a massive impact, including someone not being able to be hired, serve in office, or go to a university.  In short, the Mayor was screwed!  Some of the other office-holders were supporting the excommunication, seeing Mayor Zaragoza's deposition as being an advancement opportunity for them.

However, Mayor Zaragoza had been once a supporter of Francisco Franco.  Yes, that one!  Not one of the more loveable guys in history, to put it mildly 

So one morning Mayor Zaragoza got on his Vespa motor bike at 4 A.M., rode eight hours on it in the cold to Madrid, and got an audience with El Caudillo himself despite being splattered by oil from his motor bike.  Franco was surprised when he was told how the Mayor got there, and offered his support.

Anyway, Caudillo Franco blunted the effect of the excommunication, made the two-piece swimsuit legal, put the archbishop in his place, and affirmed Mayor Zaragoza as the authority in Benidorm.  Senora Franco became a frequent visitor to Benidorm, and the community flourished.

Probably Franco got a twofer on this: he was able to lend aid to a supporter, and also to blunt the dominance of the church as well.  [Yes, separation of church and state!]  Power-wielders tend not to share power well, and some bishops did have a tendency to throw their weight around.  Actually, this may have been one of the first moves towards making Spain less rigid and alienated from the rest of Europe.

Over the next few years, Beindorm grew enormously.  A large number of high-rise hotels emerged.  Thus began the popularity of the Costa Blanca; with its English-like touristy places.  It became sort of a Redneck Riviera for the fish-and-chips set, and tourism became a big business!

In this Costa Blanca area, pragmatism won out over hidebound rigidity; and Spain became increasingly on the European map for tourism.  To some degree this occurred with the Gulf Coast in U.S.  There, standards of conduct are pretty relaxed, even though it's not likely that a mayor of an Alabama coastal town had to ride to Montgomery on a putt-putt to bring it about.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Joy of Bad Movies

Okay, this is going to sound entirely perverse, if not slightly kinky; but there are sometimes pleasures that might occur for watching a movie that critics panned.

I find that Rotten_Tomatoes is a good source for obtaining information as to how a potential movie was received by large numbers of critics and everyday audience members.  I fall in the latter category; I claim no critical distinction as to being a discerning viewer.

Some things just hit me right, or they don't.  Consider The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise; the critics practically unanimously loved it; it got 98% positive rating.  On the other hand, The Sweetest Thing garnered only a 26% positive rating.  Yet I found the first to be a pretentious bore, but the second one I loved.

Why did I love it?  Maybe it was the felicitous combination of Cameron Diaz, Selma Blair, and Christina Applegate in a raunchy comedy that I needed for a pick-me-up.  Certainly, anything that would include the S.F. restaurant scene when the crowd did "The Penis Song" merits at least a look.

Or that cultish The Boondock Saints.  Having William DeVane playing a gay F.B.I. agent, the cartoonish gunplay, and other reasons made it memorable despite a mere 20% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

And, as crass as I might sound, I liked Paris Hilton in House of Wax (25% rating).  Partly, it's a swimming-against-the-current thing when everyone seemed so down on her; it was a willingness to give her a chance.

So, whatever heck the rating is, I plan to see We're the Millers soon. 

The Germans have a word: scheissenbedaurn to refer to the disappointment that occurs when things are not as bad as they were expected to be.  Some people actually watch some movies with the expectation that they will be truly bad.  And they're disappointed when they're not.

I prefer to approach movies with an optimistic attitude.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Ambiguity of I ♥ Boobies

How much self-expression should be allowed in school settings has been at issue since the 1970's, with the U.S. Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District decision allowing some students to wear armbands to protest the Vietnam war.

On the other hand, schools have prohibited the wearing of t-shirts bearing certain messages, like those advocating drugs or alcohol.

In Bethel School District v. Fraser, the Court ruled that a high school student could be be disciplined because of his speech to a school assembly during which he nominated a fellow student for a student elective office with a speech that contained contained (lame) sexual innuendos, but not obscenity. The Supreme Court asserted that "the process of educating our youth for citizenship in public schools is not confined to books, the curriculum, and the civics class; schools must teach by example the shared values of a civilized social order". 

Several years ago, the Supremes found in Frederick v. Morse that Alaskan high school students could not display a banner inscribed "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" because it advocated the use of drugs.

According to Slate, a matter that might come before the Supreme Court is whether to allow the rubber bracelets bearing the message "I ♥ boobies."  Now, the original intent of the bracelets was to increase breast cancer awareness, and to help fund breast cancer research.

Sounds like a worthy cause, no?  An article in the Huffington Post reports that it is controversial in many parts of the country, and that the ACLU has stepped forward in Wyoming to insure this right of free speech.

You know, the right to free speech, guaranteed in the First Amendment, doesn't specify whether it's speech that authorities approve of, or that it's serious speech.  Those are moot questions, anyway.

Anyway, returning to the word "boobies."  It's beauty, or lack thereof, is in the eye of the beholder.   Or, maybe I'd better say, the listener.

I personally am not bothered by the word.  Some may be.  But some people can find the word "dog" to be offensive.

Besides, there's a certain ambiguity to the word.  There is a species of bird known as the blue-footed boobie.  And maybe at least some of our bracelet-wearers are more bird- than breast-conscious.  Still, breast cancer awareness seems to be a worthwhile cause to support.

Just like there seems to be a small tribe of people who are fond of little owls and addicted to hot wings.

We have to remember that the English language is not static: meanings change with time.  Some words, that were strongly dysphemisms a few years ago seem less so.  Can this be the opposite of the euphemism treadmill in action?  If so, call it the dysphemism treadmill.  Consider the word dick.  When a person is nowadays told, "Don't act like a dick," this is nothing more than his being instructed to not act like a jerk.

Oh foul language, where is thy sting?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Where Muffin Tops Are Acceptable for Cheerleaders

As a consequence of geographical shifts of the population, large numbers of persons have move South or to California.  As a result, the mild to hot temperatures coupled with more relaxed dress standards have opened the possibility of a new fashion look: the baring of midriffs.  Even if the wearer elects not to wear swimwear-like garb, there's more exposure that might be possible.

And, especially after a winter of being indoors and unexercised, there's the dreaded muffin top!

Now it is an undisputed fact that many girls aspire to be cheerleaders or majorettes for their high schools or universities.  But in order to do this, they have to fight the Battle of the Bulge without the assistance of the 82nd Airborne!

So what is the fashion-conscious, cheerleader-aspirant zaftig girl to do?  To re-paraphrase Horace Greeley, "Go North, young woman.  And let it out with pride!"

Well, maybe Horace didn't quite put it that way.  The very thought of cheerleaders would have stripped his gears.  Nevertheless, that's good advice.  Take a cue from universities that cannot seem to pull off a successful football season, drop down to a more easily dominated conference.  [Indeed, the only reason why many D-2 institutions aspire to D-1 sports anyway is for the money.  There's no way in holy hell that UL - Lafayette is going to compete with LSU!]

And that means go to a college or university in the Midwest or North.   There, the cheereader outfits are less revealing; and the local males prefer well-nourished madamoiselles, anyway.  Who knows, being 20 pounds overweight might not harm your chances in being a cheerleader or majorette at some institution in Michigan or Ohio!*

*For God's sake, I'm not being serious.  You Wolverines or Buckeyes, relax and have an extra piece of pie.  Two for you, Dr. Gee of OSU!

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Perils of Wearing Bra Inserts

While it's not nice to fool Mother Nature, sometimes the old gal can turn a blind eye on certain kinds of fudging going on.

Whatever our possible physical gifts, we are confronted with an irreducible biological fact: guys pay more attention to those females with larger breasts.  This can be a problem if you're in the A- or B-cup territory, especially if you're an adolescent.  Some deal with this by getting breast implants; but a good set of silicone implants can set you back about $6000 - $7000 plus the period of recuperation. 

Teen boys are so obvious.  College males try to be more circumspect when they look you over.  They're not always successful in doing so; but they do make an effort.  Credit that to socialization.

Anyway, when I first matriculated to a university, I decided to make a great impression by wearing a chic sundress on the first day, and to technically augment my figure by wearing silicone bra inserts (about $40 at nice set).  (I needed a larger bra to support these store-bought ta-tas!) 

I got noticed.  I enjoyed every bit of it that day; Tee Angel (Little Angel) at last appeared womanly!  So I staged an encore for the second and third days.  This was decidedly good.  I thought, why not get some more cute, sexy bras and dress provocatively on a regular basis?

But people in their late teens are not noted for long-range planning.  I realized that I was cornered into a you-can-be-looked-at-but-you-better-not-be-touched position!  Do I have to paint you a picture?

So I dropped down to less obvious cleavage.  Perhaps my change was not too obvious, but I returned to my former level of prominence.

Now some of these silicone bra inserts can be worn with swimsuits.  While they are affixed with adhesive, when some adhesives become excessively moist, they can become loose.  This is a design flaw.

Megan, a friend of mine, didn't take that into account when wearing hers while using the water slide at a water park.  Now wearing a bikini in such a setting can be hazardous to begin with; if you should do one of those thrill rides, there's the slight risk of a swimsuit malfunction.  Some idle guys hang around with that in mind.

My thought (based on personal experience) is to double-knot; but that it's not so bad if you lose North Carolina; it's more of a problem if you lose South Carolina.

Anyway, returning to Megan: she was wearing a string bikini with her inserts underneath, feeling safe and secure on the water slide for having doubly knotted both the bottom and the bra.  Whoooosh!  Splash!

She underestimated the force of the cascading of the water.  Her external swimsuit stayed in place; but one of the silicone inserts came out and the other shifted position!  What made it worse was that we didn't notice right away; but the guy supervising at the top of the water slide apparently did and stared intently!

After the second time down, we noticed:  "Megan, your boobs are cattywampus!"

So I had to spend twenty minutes in the pool looking for her missing bra insert while she stood around wearing a towel.

Sometimes it is worthwhile to read the instructions with any commercial product!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Peter's Primitive Wife-Retention Strategy

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn't love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well
There's a lot to be said about the cruelty and impracticality of Peter's first mate retention strategy.  Perhaps it had to do with his obsessiveness regarding pumpkins.  I like jack-o-lanterns, and am partial to pumpkin bread,  Pumpkin pie is too sweet for my palate, but that's just me. 

Anyway, we have in his case a classical example of an old-fashioned mate-retention strategy.  He couldn't keep her (from straying?); so he housed her in an oversized pumpkin.  Kind of like old-time Sultans housed their harems, but without the eunuchs and Oriental music.

Whether Peter's failure to keep her was a consequence of comission or omission, I don't know.  But evolutionary psychologists have studied a wide range of wife-retention strategies, ranging from the crude to the smooth:

1)  Physically threatening or restraining the spouse who might possibly stray;
2)  Isolation from potential rivals;
3)  Displaying threats or actual violence toward potential rivals;
4)  Making overt signs of possiveness towards other males;
5)  Bestowing material goods on her;
6)  Being loving and caring.*

And others.

However, Pham and Shackleford, researchers in evolutionary psychology,  surveyed 243 adult men in heterosexual relationships and concluded that cunnilingus is used to discourage women from cheating, a theory the authors refer to as a "mate-retention strategy."

Their research suggests that some men perform oral sex on their female partners in order "to minimize the risk of their partner’s infidelity by increasing her relationship satisfaction."

This is good from within evolutionary psychology, as it suggests that men might actively attept to keep their wives by providing sexual satisfaction and more frequent orgasms.  And rest, afterward.  As it is, only about 25% of women usually become orgasmic as a result of intercourse; but these additional forms of attention increase the odds, so to speak.  And, like one of the critics of this interpretation, it minimizes the possible role of  mutual pleasure.

If this is true, then Peter tended to seek his oral gratifications in the wrong place.

*In my opinion, the best strategy.

Some individual, sex unidentified, made a banner and leaned it against a statue.


Monday, August 5, 2013

General Benjamin Butler

After New Orleans fell in 1862 to the Yankees, it underwent a period of occupation by Union troops.  They acted about like you would expect tourists with guns to act, even to the point of petty thievery.  Their commanding officer, one General Benjamin F. Butler, was particularly noxious to the inhabitants, especially the ladies of New Orleans.  However, all soon was forgiven; they honored General Butler in a special way with his commemorative chamber pot. that soon became very popular.

General Butler established a veritable turdocracy there.  [Thanks for the expression, Elvis.]  He also known for stealing spoons, hence his nickname "Spoons" Butler.

He came from Boston, where he was a politician before soldiering.

Butler made a big ass of himself; and he was replaced by Gen. Nathaniel Banks.  He was better at p.r. as head of an occupying force.  As a matter of fact, they later named after him a pretty street with a tree-lined neutral ground and nice homes on it.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

First Kiss

The first time you get kissed by a boy is one of those private milestones, an event that is usually remembered with fondness for its charm and wonder and surprise. 

Uusually it just happens.  But some girls may contrive it to take place; they too have their experiences, and, hopefully, it's good.

I remember mine.  I was not quite a teen; and I had been riding my bike aimlessly on the levee when I met a boy from my class also riding his.  His name was Jimmy.  We sat and talked a while, enjoying each others' company and temporarily being away from the world of adults.

Jimmy inched closer to me, and kissed me on my mouth.  It was not a long kiss, but a real kiss nevertheless.  He had such adorably blue eyes!

My reaction was to kiss him back,l and I did.  Later on, in psychology, I learned that's called "positive reinforcement." 

From my perspective, it was a sweet, memorable experience without some of the usual first kiss baggage:
(a)  Does my breath smell okay?
(b)  Will we get caught?
(c)  Will he try to touch my breasts, and should I let him?
(d)  If we kiss longer than 20 seconds, is it a sin?
(e)  Suppose he tries to French me?  Should I let him?

Jimmy and I met semi-regularly, and just necked a little when it was time to depart.  That's all.

Within a few years, his family and him left town, and Jimmy and I lost touch.  I wish I could have given it a more storybook-type ending.

Sometimes first kisses (or subsequent ones) don't turn out so well when adults get into the act.  Here's a story about the outcome of a kiss at a summer camp that went so totally haywire.  It seems that a 15-year-old girl kissed a boy, and she was expelled from the summer camp for having done so!  The article does not say whether the boy was also expelled or not.  Somehow, being escorted to the gate by a policeman in uniform, and being picked up by the parents would be very likely to defeat self-esteem and generate a lot of nightmares.

I'll bet the whole tableau gave the other campers something to talk about for weeks.  Maybe it's like what Voltaire said when the British executed an admiral for losing, "In this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others."  (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.)

Yes, that's it.  They used her as an example to other campers.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Angélique in a Historical Setting

As a minor find, it seems that there was a heroine in historical fiction named Angélique written by Anne and Serge Golon.  Her stories were published in French originally; but the first ten of the books were translated into English.  They're definitely in the historical romance genre, and highly readable.

They made some of them into movies, starring Michèle Mercier.,_Marquise_des_Anges


Thursday, August 1, 2013

In Which Tee Angel Brings on a Merdestorm!

It is a well-acknowledged fact that the contacts between children and adults sometimes lead to problems, even without the intention of being bad or annoying on the child's part.

There must be an enormous cosmic book of rules out there, which all adults are privy to; and only some of these are revealed to kids in a haphazard fashion.  In short, entirely without suspecting it, you may violated one of those unmentioned rules.  Consequently, you find yourself in hot water, and don't know why.

This one started off simply enough.  I was in a 6th grade English class in elementary school; and we were given the assignment to write about some religious shrine that we saw.  (I was in Catholic school, by the way.)  And I wrote mine; thought I put it in respectful terms, with reasonably passable grammar, and turned it in.  Yes, I thought I was playing the game straight.

The teacher suddenly jumped up in a fury, told me to get all my things, and took me to the Principal's Office!  [Oh holy crap!  What did I do to warrant being dragged out of class?]  There I was subjected to a host of charges, including blasphemy and god-knows-what.  The fierce nun in charge called my Mama, and told her to get me!  Like immediately.

Was I being expelled?  Or suspended?  I felt like Joseph K. in Kafka's The Trial, not knowing what I did that was wrong or why everyone was so angry.  Tee Angel, she was in a peck of trouble, for true!

Anyway, my poor Mama had to leave work, and carry off her wretched daughter to shame and ignominy.  Still I did not know my offense, or my penalty . . . .  Was I to be whipped on the Church steps?  Would I be allowed a blindfold before execution?

Anyway, my "offense" came out in the painful meeting that ensued.  The essay that I wrote stated that I had visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Sucker in the Ursuline Convent!  (Actually, this shrine is correctly spelled Our Lady of Prompt Succor, and it's a biggie in New Orleans.  You can read the Wikipedia link for the story.  Frankly, the statue is a little on the sentimental side, maybe a wee bit sappy.

Anyway, Mama was able to persuade the Head Nun that it was all a mere spelling mistake, an attempt to spell a word that I have never seen and was not likely to encounter in ordinary dialogue.  Though the Ubernun was persuaded (knowing the source, and my spelling reputation), I was still given an afternoon's suspension.  Mama's take on that was that it was a face-saving move on their part for having gotten the teacher's unmentionables twisted, and that we were to spend it together at the Clearview shopping mall chilling.  Thank you, thank you, Mama!

Dad was pissed.  At them.  And even threatened to enroll me in a public school away from those intolerant nincompoops (and other choice terms).  But calm eventually was restored.

The very next day, when I returned to school, nothing was said to me.  No apology, no ooops, nothing.  And I said nothing whenever I was asked why I was dragged out of class so dramatically.  Sometimes it's better to be a girl of mystery and leave people to guess.

It was only in adulthood that it finally dawned on me why my misspelling pushed those adults' buttons so readily!