Tomorrow is Halloween. Sadly, it is an annual event that has come into its share of controversies instead of being a mere pleasant diversion where kids dress in spooky or imaginative costumes, and neighboring adults give them candy. Like our idiot Republicans and Democrats who manage to find things to squabble over, there's a grab bag of views that go against the old advice to live and let live: 1) There's the evangelical Christians who see Halloween as a pagan celebration. As a result, they pressure schools into having Fall Festivals or Harvest Festivals instead of Halloween Carnivals. As a further consequence, they discourage the wearing of costumes on Halloween at these occasions and allow kids some pale imitation of the real deal. [Okay, it was once a pagan festival. But, like other occasions, custom has denatured it of its origins. We also celebrate Christmas, never mind its origins, and Cinco de Mayo even though we're not Mexican.] 2) Then there's the complaint about sexy Halloween costumes. Now it seems to me that simple common sense should distinguish between a sexy costume worn by an adult to an adult occasion, as opposed to a tween wearing one. In other words, it's okay to go as a sexy French maid or witch if you're older, but don't have your tween go out like that! 3) As for trick-or-treating, some adults get snippy if they judge the person in general to be to old to trick-or-treat. Some are very gruff with teen trick-or-treaters because they see trick-or-treating as strictly for the age ten or below group, especially unaccompanied by adults. As a friend of mine put it back then, "If you look like you have boobs, then forget about it!" 4) Some tricks, I'm sad to say, lapse into vandalism. And not just those done by adolescents. 5) People who oppose Halloween on religious grounds have the perfect nonconfrontal way of avoiding issues: leave your porch light off and don't answer the door. Don't give trick-or-treaters some goddamn tract! Anyway, I've said my peace. For my next post I promise to be less grumpy. And I'll pass out Halloween candy to all comers, even guys in their sixties. Though I expect they would rather a mixed drink.
Ever since the German universities found that there was a lot of professorial duties to go around, and they started distinguishing among ordinary professors, ausserlichter (extraordinary) professors, and Dozents, academe has become increasingly hierarchical. Anyway, the modern-day U.S. university can be likened to a wedding cake. Here's the layers, with more splendid frosting and privileges going with the upper ones. Dean: Very highly paid Often has reserved parking place Talks to God Walks on water Drinks the finest wines Bulletproof due to political pull Department Chair: Slightly more comfortably paid Parks in general faculty parking Swims in water Talks respectfully to Dean's secretary, knowing she is God Drinks champagne or prosecco Tenured Been around long enough that he or she is predictable (Full) Professor Comfortably paid Parks in general faculty parking Talks to God if approved through proper channels Wades in shallow water Drinks wine routinely Tenured Associate Professor Comfortably paid Parks where he can find it Receives memos from God in general mailing Drinks water Drinks wine at weddings, and on Christmas and New Year's. Tenured Assistant Professor Genteel poverty Parks if he can afford the gas; otherwise bicycles. Hears rumors about memos from God Makes water Drinks wine is someone else is buying Untenured Graduate Assistant Rude poverty Walks or rides a bicycle Thinks the Department Secretary is a goddess Dribbles water Drinks generic beer Must keep up grades and reasonable progress toward a degree while teaching introductory classes
A recurrent theme in the illustrations of Art Frahm is genteel ladies dealing with the public embarassment of wardrobe malfunctions; specifically their panties dropping down to their ankles and being viewed by an appreciating, leering male. The women never is seen as initiating or enjoying a tease in the undie display; she's always upset by this revelation. And, for some fetishistic reason, she's always carrying celery. I'm glad that the elastic used in panties is stronger nowadays! Or maybe these panty malfunctions are the result of the larger and more massive granny panties that women wore back then! However, the scene may have a more sinister context: the elevator boy might have delibrately adjusted the speed and abruptness of descent so that the gentle lady would be humiliated by the loss of her panties and exposure of her bottom! There is an example of true sexist behavior!
I'm glad we've gone into automatic elevators. That's a real cultural, social, and moral improvement, but it takes away one possible job for simple-minded people who would be otherwise unemployable. Alternatively, this could be viewed as a commentary on social class tensions, the elevator boy dashing the pretentions of the elegant, middle-class woman! But maybe some underemployed psychoanalytically-trained individual can explain the celery that seems to be a recurrent motif in Frahm's art!
Despite limiting play time in high school football to 48 minutes, there are still occasional mismatches that lead to collosal blowouts; or in the language of the typical male SEC football fan: ass whuppings! One of these happened recently in that football-obsessed state, Texas, where the Aledo High School Bearcats easily defeated Western Hills High School Cougars, 91-0. This prompted one of the parents of a player on the losing team to file a bullying complaint against the winning football team. Apparently, Aledo coach Tim Buchanan tried to keep the score down by taking out his first-string players, by using a running game, and by requesting that the clock not be stopped after halftime; but the combination of the performance by the Bearcats' subs and the hapless Western Hills team. Anyway, players who normally sit out games on the bench are highly motivated to make the best they can of their limited game time. After an inquiry, the complaint was found to have no merit. Texas has no "mercy" rule for football games that ends it after the score becomes too lopsided. And I can't imagine a coach requesting a stop to the game. In my opinion, calling this lopsided win "bullying" was a real stretch. But what if the school board had indeed regarded it as bullying? How much of a margin must occur for bullying to have taken place? Should losing players be given counseling to console them for their loss? Should the winning team and coaches have to undergo sensitivity training? Seriously, bullying is a real and serious problem among youth. (I've been a recipient.) But using it in marginal cases like this only muddies the waters. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/91-0-texas-football-blowout-leads-bullying-charge-101510025.html
According to this 'reliable' U.K. source, there is now a new app that allows for men to offer women bribes in hopes of obtaining dates with them, such as jewelry or plastic surgery. This web site was developed by the same guy that came up with SeekingArrangement.com, the site that allows "sugar daddies" to connect with young women in return for their being quasi-mistresses. This is uncomfortably close to prostitution. Anyway, the idea is that, if otherwise unacceptable guys were to be able to get into the dating door with an attractive woman, this might give them an opening for the woman to see their positive side and be attracted in turn. It's a hopeful idea, but not likely to work. Here's the psychology behind why it won't work. Two separate reasons: 1. There's the cognitive dissonance thing, as suggested by Leon Festinger back in the 1950's. Briefly, this is a social psychological theory that holds that when a person has two or more cognitions, ideas, beliefs, values, or emotions, she motivated to reduce that uncomfortable state. If a young woman is going out with what she perceives to be a marginal guy, she is likely to experience some cognitive dissonance that might be more or less be dependent on whether an inducement is present: a) She is going out with a questionable guy, but without any external reason to justify it (e.g., as a favor to a friend she is going out with her nerdly cousin); so she has to come up with some possible explanation as to why she is doing so. In the absence of some external inducement, she might conclude that she is attracted to the guy. b) But if some inducement is present, she can readily ascribe why she is doing so in terms of the inducement. She does not have to explain her behavior in terms of attraction: the inducement suffices.* In the illustration below, Belle, the Beauty, would be attracted to the Beast because she could not otherwise account for the incongruence between his appearance and her going with him. 2. Then there's research by Edward Deci that indicated that, if you attach an extrinsic reward to an activity that had been otherwise intrinsically rewarding, the extrinsic reward tends to eclipse the intrinsic reward and when it is discontinued, the activity tends to be less likely to persist. In other words, whatever pleasure she might have found from his company is offset or obscured by the offer of the jewelry or the boob job or other extrinsic reward, and makes it less likely that she will enjoy being with him with no external inducement. [Silly picture comment: I don't think an actual carrot would work, unless she's a bunny. And I don't know of anyone who wears dresses so short! I might go out with a M.I.T. grad out of curiosity, but you would never catch me wearing skankwear.]
*This is why going on a blind date to help out a friend seldom leads to any positive vibes. I've been there.
It's no secret -- science coverage in the mainstream media is less than stellar, partly because of the rarity of reporters who are versed in science, and partly because the various newspapers and television news programs see any kind of news as an opportunity to grind whatever political axe they happen to favor.
Of course, some science news items are seemingly tailor-made for this: global warming, evolution, cryptozoology, extraterrestrial beings, and lately the controversially-named God particle (the boson) being specific examples.
Of course, news programs like people to make unequivocal statements, rather than seemingly hedge, like scientists are trained to do.
Then there's the confusion of correlation and causality. Reporters jump to conclusions too readily about this. So there's a lot of science reporting off the top of peoples' heads.
There's an interesting little report on CNN that linked better attendance and business for "gentlemen's clubs" to the U.N. having its annual meeting in New York. On the video, they interviewed the manager of The Cheetah, definitely an upscale establishment!
I wonder if the strippers provide a distraction to members of this august body, and that we might consider them to be distractions also to other deliberative bodies. Therefore, I offer a modest proposal: In Washington, as long as Congress is in session, close down the strip clubs! And maybe the states of Virginia and Maryland could also voluntarily grant the ecdysiasts a holiday as long as our Solons are doing their National Duty! In my way of thinking, it's the patriotic thing to do. After all, some states have laws closing the bars on election day; or at least while the polls are open. Hmmm......should we also institute in-session prohibition in D.C. as long as Congress is meeting? Considering the antics (or non-antics) of the current group of losers, they drive the rest of us to want to drink! Maybe the best solution is to move Congress lock, stock, and barrel to Salt Lake City, or some other place not noted for its nightlife. http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/politics/2013/09/25/dnt-un-nyc-strip-clubs.wpix.html
To include a little story about my home state, Louisiana, the capital was originally in New Orleans even back in the French and Spanish days. But in 1830, some legislators, finding it to be a bit "noisy" (read that as too tempting), moved the capital upriver to Donaldsonville. (Betcha you never heard of that place!) Anyway, in 1831, they found Donaldsonville to be unsuitable, so they relocated the capital back to New Orleans. The capital was again moved in 1849; this time to Baton Rouge. They figured that a place named after a Native American boundary marker had little of the aura of temptation. Mark Twain commented negatively on the original capital building there as coming from reading too much Sir Walter Scott, but he was an old grump sometimes.
For many communities on the make, tourism is the Holy Grail of business and revenue generation: It's relatively ecologically safe (unless you discount drunk tourists urinating on streets like in some places), it provides jobs for locals, money for the movers and shakers, and gives a lot of favorable publicity. Some communities really stretch the point to be seen as a place to go, even to generating faux festivals such as the Opelousas's Yam Festival or the tobacco-spitting contest that Ripley, MS has. Yeah, right? Do you really want to go into the boondocks to see some adept rednecks expectorate their chaws? After all, not every place is blessed initially with history, like the Alamo or Williamsburg or even Seattle. And Washington gives us reasons to be in awe of the various monuments, diligently active Federal workers, our august legislators passing wise laws to improve our general good. Miami, of course, gives us a glimpse of paradise, with warmish weather, beautiful sun-tanned bodies, Art deco buildings, and curious multi-cultural cuisine and corruption. And New Orleans has the Mardi Gras.
But how do you make a tourist attraction out of an essentially blah place?
One way is to make up your own language, as Boonville, CA has done:Boontling. That will attract some linguistically curious folk. Or you can sponsor a mass exhibition of buttocks, as a Southern California community annually moons Amtrak. Or thong-wearers on South Beach do year round. Oops, Miami Beach is far from bland. Or you can play up to the tinfoil hat wearers, as some enterprising people in Roswell, NM have done for over 50 years. As a matter of fact, the USAF and the State of Nevada have a possible prime site for the New Paranoid Tourism: Area 51. This secret, restricted area has the ability to draw curiosity more than any woodland with Posted: No Entry signs ever does. It's the aura of mystery. What strange creatures are lurking in Area 51? What fiendish experiments are taking place? What is the Air Force, or the C.I.A., or the Trilateral Commission, or the Bohemian Grove revelers covering up there? Is it a super-secret Burning Man Festival? There is the possibility that reality is quite a bit less than that imagined, but that shouldn't stand in the way of a successful tourism opportunity. Tourism sells the sizzle, not the steak.
Let's see: strategically place around the tourism area a few wrecked airframes and a few objects constructed to look like crashed flywing saucers. Or, even better, flying teacups. Those could be obtained surplus from Walt Disney World. Have a few employees dress like space creatures, but keep them safely in the distance.
Don't forget the t-shirt shop. "I've entered and returned from Area 51," "Area 51: More that what they say is going on," "They grow larger in Area 51."
And, who knows, maybe we'll start some people speculating about just what is going on in Area 52!
There's the Guinness Book of Records, an amazing collection of feats both remarkable and amazing, that some people aspire to being mentioned in for some reason or other. It seems that someone has recently achieved temporary immortality by accomplishing the feat of unhooking 26 brassieres in a minute's time! Now who thinks of such things; and isn't this one of those occasions where just possibly quality is more of a consideration than is quantity?
But was going to be in black and white in the Guinness Book for all to read. And will stay that way until some more enterprising (and manually dexterous) person breaks that record. That sort of thing tempts the enterprising. It's like the Matterhorn: people climb it because it's there.
Anyway, I was approached to be one of the, shall we say, providers of said objects to be publicly unhooked in a local tavern. It was by a friend of mine, a trustworthy sort, a café latte man. It was presented to be as an occasion to help a local Louisianian win fame and glory in doing this feat. It was supposed to be done demurely, with each the assisting ladies lifting up the back of her tee to help our hero set a new record of 30, or even 35! Afterwards, modestly shielding ourselves, we then run to the room of rest for reassembly. The thought of so many in there simultaneously boggled the imagination!
What a rush! To be an accessory to fame! Would I be mentioned in the Times-Picyaune? [Angel B., daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B, a graduate of ______ Academy and the University of ______ was the eighteenth one undone.] Would WDSU-TV cover it live?
Would my grandchildren hear about it someday?
"You know, Cherie, it was Maw-maw, she was a demoiselle of considerable style. She participated in the great bra unhooking of 2008."
"Cool. Can I have a picture for Show-and-Tell?" "No, but you can take her souvenir t-shirt for having participated."
After the Soviet Union moved from communism to democracy in 1991, there was a concerted effort to distance the new Russia from the old regime. How far this would go was anyone's guess at the time. However, Forbes magazine got a real scoop: The Russian government was going to sell off Vladimir Ilich Ulanov's (Lenin's) embalmed body. In the true capitalist spirit, they were having a Going Out of Business Sale and asking a cool $15,000,000! Well, in rubles. Of course, it was in good condition, reflecting the finest in Soviet mortuary science. The original report did not specify if it would be delivered, or should be carried out by the happy customer. This story was picked up by other news sources, such as USA Today, ABC's World News Tonight, the Associated Press, and others. This was an indication of the extent to which things had utterly changed. The following day, Peter Jennings followed up the original sensational story with an update disclaiming the earlier reports: they were a hoax. Lenin was not for sale. It is not known whether there was any discussion of the possibility of him being rented for the weekend at any time. The Old Boy still lies in state in Moscow, but with no price tag on his big toe.
The range of tacky entertainments defies imagination; yet people have come up with wet t-shirt contests, Jello wrestling, belly-flopping, and mullet tosses to serve the beer-imbibing crowds at resorts. Without elaborating on these spectacles overmuch, my causal research indicated that lime green was the favorite Jello color. Obviously, the Jello is rendered inedible during the process. Some contests involve eating as an activity, such as being the one to consume the most hot dogs in a short period of time. These gluttony events are cheered by crowds, even when one or more of the contestants loses his lunch! Grrr-ross! Some Tennessee guys apparently developed a sport called "butt-chugging," in which wine is taken in anally to induce intoxication. This is a health-risky activity. More adventurous people go in for bungee jumping and sky diving. An old-style entertainment was the demolition derby competitions, in which drivers drive barely running cars in a field and deliberately crash into each other until only one car and driver is left in the competition. However, the Medieval sport of jousting is a direct ancestor of this. Maryland even declared it to be the official state sport! Of course, the pageantry and the colorful costumes lend it an aura of respectability, I suppose.
Is there any chance that some state will adopt Jello wrestling as its state sport? Probably not the states represented in the Southeastern Conference.
A local Cheyenne news reporter managed to obtain an interview with a real cowgirl on how to Dress for Success in the West. This is what transpired. "Good evening, folks. Tonight's guest is Cowgirl Melinda, fresh off the prairie; and our topic is dressing for success on the prairie." Melinda: "Err.....err.....Yeah, thanks, Gwyenth. I'm supposed to tell how to dress when you're away from the big cities. Now people from metropolises like Cheyenne or Casper know how to outfit themselves; but outlanders from the likes of Denver or Omaha or Noo Yawk don't have a junebug's clue! Remember, form follows function." Gwyenth: "I know what you mean, but can you give us some specifics, Melinda?" Melinda: "Shore nuff. First off: Don't put on boots when wearing a skirt. You look plumb silly. Boots go with jeans. End of story. "When wearing a skirt, If you're gonna wear tall heels, get some practice in wearing them before you go in public. Nothing spoils the effect of showing off your legs while wearing f***-me shoes* like falling on your butt or especially your face and getting a case of nosebleed! "For most occasion, jeans are the way to go. But let them be blue jeans. No colored jeans or carpenter's jeans. Don't get them pre-faded; let your ordinary doins' take care of the process. And it's okay to wear guys' jeans. They don't emphasize the butt so much and sometimes come in handy." Gwyenth: "Oh really, how?" But then she thought and thought it best not to go there on television. Melinda: Don't wear jodhpurs. Ever. Not even if you lose an election bet. And yoga pants are only for leisure wear and never around the campfire. "You can be pretty free with your shirt selections: T-shirts when it's fairly hot; long-sleeved shirts of either a solid or plaid pattern. But don't do orange. That color might upset the critters. And don't wear a Colorado Buffaloes or Nebraska Cornhuskers t-shirt or sweat shirt. Those kind are regarded as worn only by untrustworthy heathens. "You know, don't go in for those western styling shirts, either; unless you're trying to pass as a tenderfoot or a hillbilly singer. It's okay to look like you're a shit-kicker in Nashville, not Rawlins. Don't tie your shirt underneath in order to bare your midriff, 'less you're Shania Twain or a belly dancer left off at Little America. "For much of the year, a nice, comfortable denim jacket will compliment your ensemble. But don't have it tricked out with rhinestones or such useless stuff unless you're trying to look like an Easterner slumming in the West. "And a word about Nudie suits or jackets: Don't. Unless you're a country and western singer on stage. And, even then, don't wear one with rhinestone guitars or banjos on it! Wearing one to breakfast in the Buffalo Café would cause some of the old-timers to lose their fodder. "Your hat should be chosen with care. It should fit, and it should reflect your own style. Stetsons look best; sombreros or derbys are not advised. Yes, it's semiokay to wear a baseball cap, but not a pith helmet. Pith on those who do. But whatever hat you wear, take it off when going indoors. It's the polite thing to do." Gwyenth: "Very good ideas, Melinda. But what about belts?" Melinda: "Dang me, I forgot. A nice wide western belt with a buckle should do it. It should have some western motif on it: longhorns, buffaloes, or marijuana leaves." Gweneth: "Marijuana leaves? Melinda: "Yeah. A cowgirl must relax sometimes." *I regret to say that Cowgirl Melinda was bleeped.
Among the suggestions from fund-raising books is that if you wish to elicit contributions from possible donors, build something tangible or sponsor some popular form of entertainment or exhibit. Father Devereaux of St. Cletus's Church had a pet project: a parish gym where the wayward boys and girls of the neighborhood could come to play midnight basketball rather than do drugs, watch strip shows, or follow Doctor Who on television. He thought that this could be a springboard for reform in his moribund inner-city parish. So he and the Parish Council had a bright idea: why not have an exhibition of religious art? They could borrow statues and other works from nearby parishes as well as from the Archdiocese, and stage it in the Parish Hall. And Fr. Devereaux had connections with the media, you betcha! So, with great toil, they put together a triumph of tasteless religious art: a collection of bland, inconsequential church statues and Stations that numbed the aesthetic spirit worse than a visit to a Thomas Kinkade gallery! Needless to say, it was underattended, and not pulling in much money at all. So the Good Father had an inspiration: "Give 'em what they like!" But being the naive cleric that he was, he asked for advice. One person he asked was Crazy Chester, the local equine actuary. Crazy Chester came up with a succinct answer: "Jello wrestling." Now this was a new concept, so he asked further for advice on this concept. Chester elaborated. "First you get a wading pool and fill it with solidified Jello. It will take time, so borrow a ice house to do it. Then you get some hot chicks, you know; wearing bikinis, and have them wrestle in the stuff." Chester further added, "It's better if you get hot local celebrities. And it's no problem finding them. Some will do anything for the attention." Since Crazy Chester was on the Parish Finance Committee and knew all about fund-raising, our naive cleric went with the scheme. Well, to shorten this tale, and give it the possible New Orleans twist, they came up with a Jello wrestling tourney with eight participants, including Ousier Hébert, Madeline the Prophetess, Wanda the Dominatrix, and others. The headline event featured Suzette the Existential Stripper wrestling Missy Chauvin of Action News. The tournament was duly covered on the sports pages of the Times-Picyaune. While both Suzette and Missy were hesitant at first, they were properly persuaded by the worthiness of the cause! Madeline the Prophetess included the Jello Wrestling Tournament in the coverage by betting parlor, giving most of the proceeds to St. Cletus's Church. And the Archbishop, upon watching Action News, went for more aspirin.
Thibodeaux was in his house oen day and heard a knock at his door. He opened it to find a campaign worker soliciting votes for Pierre Boudreaux who was running for office in the parish. Thibodeaux said, "I ain't nerrer gonna vote for Pierre Boudreaux evah in my life." The campaign worker asked why. "Well, lemme tell ya a little story," Thibodeaux said. "About 10 years ago my cow, Bessie, gots the constipation real bad. I called the vet and he said he had some medicine that he could give her to fix it. Now he could either come out and give it to her for fifty dollar, or he could sell me the meds for twenty and I give it to ol' Bessie myself. I figure I can give the cow medicine, so I go into town and buy the medicine and save me a bit of money. It turns out that I have to put the medicine in her butt, and when I get home I start looking around for something I could use to do that, and I find my grandpappy's old army bugle. I stick that bugle in ol' Bessie, and it spooks her and she takes off down the road towards the bayou making all kinda crazy noise." The campaign worker asked Thibodeaux "How does this involve Pierre Boudreaux?" Thibodeaux continued, "Pierre Boudreaux was working as the bridge keeper at the drawbridge back then, and just as Bessie comes running down the road, he hits the button and the draw bridge goes up. Bessie runs up the bridge and falls into the bayou and drowns." "I can understand how that must have upset you sir, but Pierre Boudreaux hasn't worked the bridge in over 25 years. Isn't that a long time to hold a grudge?" Thibodaux replied, "I ain't holdin no grudge...Pierre Boudreaux bought me a new cow. But I ain't votin for no son of a bitch who is too dumb to know the difference between a boat horn and a cow with a bugle in its ass."
About this time each year, there's the annual display of the calendars for the coming year on sale in bookstores and grocery stores. For $12 to $15, the purchaser can obtain a monthly changing work of art for the wall. And, with it, put her or his cultural tastes on the line for others to see. There are the tame subject matters, often selected by middle-class homes and classrooms: pictures of dogs, kittys, horses, natural scenery. And for guys (and gals leaning in that direction), there's the swimsuit calendars; the most widely sold being the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar. And, with smaller production values and usually with smaller circulations, there's the university- or sports team-specific calendars:
Sometimes these stir up controversy: Central Michigan But, mostly, controversy is free publicity that drives up sales. I'm sure there will be others. I just wanted to make the point. And then there are the art calendars; especially favoring the Impressionists and the Preraphaelites. I'm sure there are a few that include German Expressionism; and (who knows) maybe even Soviet Realism. And unusual interests: Steampunk Underwater Dogs I wonder if someone will come up with really grotesque ones. To my knowledge, a calendar dedicated to controversial art works has not been marketed. Howver, Manet's Olympia and Goya's Disasters of War should surely be included. Maybe they might even make space for Robert Mapplethorpe or Andres Serrano; even though (in my opinion) their fame rests on a succès de scandale and not on any enduring value. RyanAirCabin Crew made a calendar, with the proceeds going to charity:
How about a calendar honoring a tavern:
Or Jersey Guys:
But wouldn't the last frontier be a Members of Congress Swimsuit Calendar? Can you imagine Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell or David Vitter decked out in a speedo? Or how about Nancy Pelosi in a bikini? Are you ready for some lunch now?
When Governor Zebulon B. Vance of North Carolina met with Governor Wade Hampton of South Carolina, the session was contentious at times. Governor Vance was moved to comment, "It's a long time between drinks." Wade Hampton was one of those irritating politicians who had the distinction of driving a governor of a neighboring state to drink. I wonder about Mrs. Hampton.
Governor Vance first served as a Colonel in the Confederate Army before being elected Governor of the state during the latter part of the war. Shortly after the war, he defended a former Confederate soldier on a charge that he murdered his girlfriend. Unfortunately, he lost that case:
His name was Thomas Dula. Due to the pronunciation characteristics of the area, he was known in the folk song as Tom Dooley. Remember that when you hear some folk singer perform that mournful ballad from western North Carolina. Tradition says that the man who was to be hanged wrote it himself. This link gives a fuller version of the Thomas Dula story:
Madeline, otherwise known as the Prophetess, wanted to provide some universal moral example both to instruct and to enlighten the citizenry in general, and not simply delve into the lives of old saints.* Accordingly, this beautiful dreamer had a vision: why not erect a secular statue to the honest politician? It would simultaneously instruct the populace as to morals, enhance the natural beauty and culture of New Orleans, and provide needed work for underemployed sculpturers. In all, it sounded like a splendid idea to counter the general cynicism regarding elected officials. The New York Daily News had an apt assessment of Congress, for example. Largely with the assistance of the Action News Team, Al Gautreaux and Missy Chauvin, the Prophetess, three old geezers from the Cafe du Monde coffeehouse, a motely assortment of history professors from Tulane, Loyola, and UNO, and with some backing that Crazy Chester secured from questionable sources, they were able to purchase a lot and erect a base to place the statue upon. It would rival the mounted statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square, sans doute! Actually, there was a lot of local enthusiasm, given the number of people working for civic improvements but also a possible frisson of discovery of some pillar of rectitude to honor. To select the worthy individual, an ad hoc committee was selected, with the Lucky Dog Guy serving as its chair. They were tasked simply with finding the worthy person to honor with this monument. The committee met for months, and seemed to come up with a few candidates; but in order to be spared future embarassment, they took a page out of the canonization process for Catholic saints: they appointed a Devil's Advocate, to dig deeply for any possible guilty secrets, any indiscretions. Al offered to be the D.A., but the appointed an outside investigator. And what kinds of indiscretions might be overlooked? Financial? Bribery? Moral? Untruthiness? No, our Devil's Advocate did a job worthy of the Drudge Report: as matter of fact, he said that he only had to brush away a little of the dust to disclose the unsavoriness, Remember that a former Democratic Governor Edwin Edwardspredicted that he would win the election unless they caught him in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. But, ultimately, the committee was unable to come up with a single honest politician to grace the base and park.
While they first contempleted an allegorical statue of the Unknown Honest Politician, they instead voted in a statue to the Unknown Stripper. They figured that was a more apt moral example to instruct and edify the community! Even Madeline had to agree with that.
*There was an old verse about a Breton saint, St. Yves: "St. Yves was a Breton and an attorney as well, But not a liar, strange to tell."
There is an expression, supposedly originally linked to Vladimir Lenin, to refer to individuals who unwittingly help some organization or cause without intending to: useful idiots (Корисні ідіоти) . Several come to mind, such as the long-winded display by Ted Cruz or the judge who sentenced the Montana rapist. Ted Cruz, by his useless squandering of Senate time to no avail made the case against Obamacare (which I'm not sold on) look petty and mean-spirited. And the judge, by giving the convicted rapist a 31-day sentence, clearly showed a mass of Americans that the crime of rape (in this case a 14-year-old child) is sometimes not taken as seriously as it should. If I was in Montana, would this kind of slap on the wrist penalty given to this type of offender make me feel safe to walk the streets? I hope like heck that it galvinizes people to take things like that seriously, and develop some serious deterrents. Maybe a long sentence followed by periodic mandatory medhydroxyprogesterone acetate injections, which serve as a chemical castration! In other words, "You serve big time first, and then no hard-ons for you afterwards, Coover." Anyway, having let off my steam about those yo-yos, let me now turn to all of Congress: a bunch of useless idiots. Clearly, only part of the term useful idiots would apply to them; anyway, it would be hard to sell the term to Congress itself, much less the polarized media: the NY Times, the WaPo, Fox News, National Review, the New Republic, and others. But there is a way: why not call them tontos inútils (useless idiots)? They might think that they are compared to the Lone Ranger's faithful companion, Tonto! Incldentally, did Jay Silverheels, the actor who originally played Tonto, ever find out that Tonto meant "dumb" or "slow" in Spanish? And our illegal immigrants (or undocumented workers; take your pick) would be laughing and our movers and shakers would not understand why!