Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Plain Brown Crapper . . . .

I didn't know it until I read an article somewhere; but styles of hard-to-change household items go through different fashions too.  As an unmarried single, I'm more into Cosmo than House Beautiful, though I do sometimes watch "House Hunters" on HGTV.
Anyway, the article intimated that certain features of older houses might make them harder to sell: paneled walls, popcorn ceilings, brightly-hued shag carpets, colored bathtubs, sinks, and toilets, and so forth.
I can see how a self-respecting guy might not want to read and do his bidness while seated on a pink toilet; but light blue or green should be unobjectionable.  White is, of course, preferable for the porcelain throne.
But what about brown?  I can see how this might come up.  Someone requests wanting something in a plain brown wrapper; but it's understood as a plain brown crapper!   Anyway, I hope that they plumb enjoy the novelty.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bubba Gets an Accomplice

I'm pleased to report that Bubba, our feckless western North Carolina bank robber, finally realized his limitations and took on an accomplice: Tammy, the red-headed school teacher from Mount Brushy.  I had already mentioned her in relation to sometimes providing entertainment at church services with her music, clogging, or stripping.  

At first Bubba tried to hit on her while in a party barn; but Tammy set him straight: it was a no-go.  Still, she needed someone to do some serious drinking with, and Bubba was buying.  Sometime in the evening Bubba admitted that he was unsuccessful in his bank robbing pursuits and was about to hang it up and get a real job.

Tammy had another idea.  She told him that he needed a partner, someone who was the brains of the operation.  Accordingly, Bubba acquiesced, and she planned the operation:

First of all, this was going to be a bank job during normal hours.  No jobs after dark.

Secondly, they were going to pull this off in Eastern Kentucky.  Bubba was a little leery at first, not wanting to be shot by Marshal Raylin Givens or that badass Constable Bob.*  But it all went according to plan.

Third, Bubba was to wear an all-black ninja outfit with a blue UK on it.  Normal, at least for  Kentucky.  Tammy wore a sultry décollété dress when she went into the First National Bank of Coal County.

In committing the felony, Tammy provided the distraction.  She strutted up to the cashier acting like a celebrity and started to cash a counter check.  Just then, ninja Bubba ran up, brandished a pistol and demanded the contents of the cashier's drawer.

Tammy feigned a dramatic swoon.  She was good at it because she had practice when the Mountaintop Players staged a play.  Her faint provided the major distraction while the masked ninja grabbed the cash from the till.  Tammy rightly figured that all eyes would be upon her; and what the heck, she enjoyed the affirmation.

Now, while Bubba was absconding with the loot, Tammy acted distressed and humiliated.  The teller and the loan manager tried to calm her down while trying to sneak a peek in the process.

Tammy learned at an early age during her visits to Okacroke that guys become instantly distracted if a girl wore a low-cut dress while making a scene.  Naturally, there were limited opporturnities for this in the mountains.  However, the Kentuckians were distracted.  It was not far-fetched to use that as a distraction device in a magic show or even to commit a robbery.

*Two characters from Justified.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Enema of the People

Unlike the old Soviet Union, Russia nowadays is trying for the tourist trade.  While Moscow and St. Petersburg are major destinations, and Volvograd is sometimes managed by tourists primarily because of the Stalingrad battle site and the huge statue of Mother Russia, there are many places that have a struggle for identity, a reason for strangers to go there.  Part of the problem is the sameness of the old Soviet architectural style, if you are loose enough to call it that.

The Mashuk-Akva Term Spa in Zhelenovodsk. Russia wanted to put itself on the map as the last word in Russian spas.  They had constructed an 800-pound monument to the enema, featuring a giant enema bulb supported by three putti!  Needless to say, this questionable monument made the news!

It's a definite opportunity to pose next to, especially for groups.   The artist must have had a large sense of humor! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Boudreaux's Vacations

Boudreaux,while managing the pogie factory in Mamou, made a remark that work was getting him down and that he needed a vacation.

Thibodaux said to him, "Then why not take a long, luxurious trip?"

Boudreaux answered, "Well, ma frien', remember when I took the trip to Paris?  Michelle got pregnant at that time."

"Oui, mon ami.  It was a romantic place to go."

And Boudreaux said, "And the next year, when I went to Hawaii, Michelle got pregnant again."

Thibodeaux said, "Oh, that one was Tee Marie.  Hawaii is so stimulating."

"And there was the trip to Rome.   Michelle got pregnant again, this time wif Tee Boudreaux.  So I'm not taking your advice no more, Thibodaux.  I'm taking her wif me to go to Shreveport.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Perils of Passez

I hope you don't mind a little story from earlier times of Tee Angel (Little Angel, in Cajun):

Girls are as aggressively disposed as guys.  But they tend to be expert at three forms: relational aggression, reputational aggression, and shaming.  Let me give you an example of the last: putting someone in an utter humiliating circumstance.  One of the more juvenile examples of cloddish behavior is to pull off a girl's bikini top and play passez with it.

Passez (pronounced "pos-say," roughly) is a teasing game that kids in the New Orleans area played for as long as people can remember.  It involves a pair (or more) of people swiping a person's posesssion (hat, glove, paperback book, etc.) as tossing them back and forth, keeping it from the owner while taunting him or her with "passez!  passez!"  Swiping a girl's bikini top is especially frustrating for her because she's usually handicapped by the protection of her modesty that she cannot effectively retrieve her possession.

Other girl's reactions tend to be one of amusement; or "better her than me," I'm sorry to say.  There's no feminist solidarity in that evolutionary crucible: the playground.

After she's sufficiently angry, the cloddish offenders make her an offer: "Show us your ta-tas (or some less pleasant term), and you'll get it back."  If she doesn't, they can throw it in a tree or over a telephone line.

I experienced this kind of juvenile prank some years ago when a group of three older girls (!) did that to me.  You have to handle things when ordinary passez is played on you with coolness -- no hard feelings, on the surface.  I didn't; being half-naked, humiliated, and with a bruised knee and bloody chin.  Therefore, I went for the nuclear option!  

Finally, after they threw my top over a tree limb, I lost all concern for modesty: I hauled off and bopped one of them in the eye.  I was pleased  later to see that she got quite a shiner.  Her old lady went and complained to Mama, who stood up for me and the response was less than genteel.  The boppee was a head taller than me. 

 I will say that my copain, Dee-Doh, climbed the tree for me and retrieved mine.  And he didn't peek at all!

Princess Lum, on the other hand, would have had a way of dealing with people who misbehaved in that fashion:  Give them an electrical zap!

Actually, we have the final answer in that most of us have long memories.  Whether a victim or an observer, we remember who did that sort of stuff and this affects how we reacted to her or him later on.  Sometimes revenge may be well-served cold on bullies.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How About a 1960's Saint?

So recently the Vatican came up with a twofer with regard to new saints who were also Popes, an amazing category in its own right: Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.  So, stick that rank in front of these worthies.

Just don't canonize Innocent VIII, Leo IX, or Pius XII, okay?*

What's not as well-known is that some pious or otherwise folk get their sainthood chops from local cults.  If, for some reasons, a group of people deem someone worthy of sainthood status, there you go: someone getting promoted from below.

Now, most often, the Church is okay with this practice, within limits.  Thus we have a St. Philomena and a St. Expedité; probably nonexistent persons misidentified as saints.  Oh well, it makes a few people happy to pray to them for intercession.

Well, suppose a group of people who were young in the 1960's experienced some good fortunes in their times.  Someone laid some good stock market tips on Jennifer, Wally hit it big in the futures market, Tim was elected governor of some dismal Midwestern state, and some states legalized weed.  It so happens that each were thinking about, and asking for the intercession of, Jim Morrison for these lucky turns of events.  They talked about Jim Morrison having answered their prayers, and thus a cultus emerged with time.

It snowballed.  Jim Morrison's grave in Paris became a site for a pilgrimage; and believers came in droves.  Some seeming miracles were ascribed to St. Jim such as a bountiful crop of marijuana growing in California, and the sainthood express snowballed!  Religious kitsch providers in the St. Germain des Prés parish in Paris trotted out some graven images of Saint Jim Morrison, such as the one below.

Even Father Devereaux, in distant St. Cletus Parish, got on the bandwagon.  He thought that his parishioners would like the new status of St. Jim looking suspiciously like the Infant of Prague more than the gory ones already present.  Most people, after all, were grossed out by St. Agatha carrying her boobs on a platter!

*Catholics are allowed to have their own opinions about popes or bishops; they will, anyway.

The Lizard King as Saint

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Quite Contrary About Mistresses

The term 'mistress' refers to a woman who is in a long-term amatory relationship with a man who is not her husband.  This relationship might include a component of her being at least partial supported by her paramour.  Famous mistresses, in the sense of being remembered historically, include Diane de Potiers, Nell Gwyn, Madame de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, and Lily Langtry.  One English king, Charles II, managed to have at least two mistresses simultaneously: Nell Gwyn and Louise de Kérouliac.  Now he really got around!

Recently I read in the New York Times about a misuse of campaign funds investigation in New York state.  Among other peccadilios to be investigated, one involved a legislator who was alleged to use campaign funds to pay for a girlfriend's apartment and visits to tanning parlors.

In my opinion, paying for her apartment and tanning puts her in the mistress category.

But wait!  Maybe this is just a sign of the times; or a more sophisticated usage.  Or a way of fending off eager lawyers.  Has the term girlfriend expanded into a euphemism?  I've already commented on the vagueness of that term as including female pals or buddies as well as women that a person (male or female) has an emotional relationship with.  But this is a different category of girlfriend: one that a man does not bring home to meet one's mother.  But maybe one's dissolute uncle!

This gives a new twist to that horticulturally-inclined Mistress Mary.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gloomy Sunday: A Musical Downer

Recently Bilbo posted a most delightful German love song on his blog.  The singer sings most charmingly, even though I don't understand German.

Here a song of a different type of some minor historical note.  Upfront, I will say that I don't know Hungarian or Hungarian culture; I'm familiar only with Litsz and Zichy.  This is the infamous Hungarian Suicide Song!

This is a melancholic song entitled Vége a világnak (The world is ending), written by Hungarian composer Rezső Seress back in 1933.  Soon afterward, László Jávor wrote a poem that was set to music and translated as Sad Sunday.  It was a despairing song, apparently motivated by 1930's pessimism and the rise of fascism in Hungary,

 It was commonly entitled Gloomy Sunday in English and was by urban legend related to a number of suicides back in Hungary.  Therefore, it was banned from radio play.  Frankly, the song is a downer; the only evidence for it being banned was by BBC in the 1940's because it was deemed demoralizing to the war effort.  Gloomy Sunday was covered by Billy Holliday back in 1941; later versions were done by Mel Tormé, Sarah Vaughn, Marianne Faithfull, Serge Gainsborough, Ricky Nelson, Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, and Elvis Costello among others.

Don't listen to it if you're feeling depressed; as a matter of fact, just taste it by listening to the intro.

Bjork does a good version, even though this is a departure from her songs which are usually upbeat and bounc.:

Then there's Gustav Mahler's morbid Kindertotenleider (Song of Dead Children)  to make you blue, should you choose.  There's a country song that's hard to take: Sunday Morning Coming Down.  It's for drinking beer and feeling sorry for yourself.  It lacks that special pizazz that country music has.  Taste these kinds of music in small doses.  Life is too brief for gloomy songs.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Is Louisiana Really Arcadia?

Arcadia is a land within Greece which was associated in antiquity with the natives there living a bucolic existence and lived in happy bliss.  Arcadia was used as a place name in more than one state because of its evocation of rural happiness.

Now happiness is subjective; it ultimately involves the person's self-assessment of his or her quality of life.  A recent article in the Huffington Post reported that the ten happiest cities out of 318 in the United States were:

1.  Lafayette, LA
2.  Houma, LA
3.  Shreveport-Bossier City, LA
4.  Baton Rouge, LA
5.  Alexandria, LA
6.  Rochester, MN
7.  Corpus Christi, TX
8.  Lake Charles, LA
9.  Nashville, TN
10.  Fort Walton Beach, FL

It's startling that six of the top ten cities were located in Louisiana.  God knows why.  But the data involved self-assessments of happiness. 

Louisiana is not a particularly wealthy state; nor do jobs abound.  When hurricanes come, they can be seriously scary.   It's not an especially well-educated state; and it has a lot of social problems.  So what do these places have going for them?  Well, it's probably the Cajun joie de vivre in Lafayette, not to mention the fine cuisine.  Baton Rouge has primo entertainment from LSU sports and the clownish legislature.  Houma is laid back; a safer alternative to New Orleans with some nice bars.  I don't know why Shreveport came out third, or Alexandria fifth. 

Wildly surmising, it could be that this happiness comes from being content with one's life.  Why so many urban dwelling Louisiana residents manage, I have no notion.  At any rate, the happiness of Shreveport cannot be because of the cuisine!

By the way, New York City came out 318th, Boston 253rd, Los Angeles 233rd, Chicago 240th, and Washington 40th.  Having so much to experience does not necessarily make for happiness.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mermaids in the Love Canal

There are various degrees of unlikelihood; some events, while improbable, just might occur.  Upsets happen both in sports and in politics.  Sometimes a blind hog finds an acorn in the woods.  And Diogenes might find an honest man (but he would not be an honest ad man or politician.)

It's true that reality can be surprising; but there are definite limitations as well.  

I use the category Mermaids in the Love Canal to lump together those beyond imaginable unlikely events.  Even after 30 or so years the Love Canal in Buffalo is still remembered for its unparalleled ecological disaster; not likely to be a site for exotic creatures.  So here in Angélique's list of things for sure not likely to be real.

1.  Homeopathy -- Damn, people!  All homeopathic remedies are is water.  Good ole Dihydrogen monoxide is good to drink or to bathe in; but the law of conservation of energy goes against the notion that unmeasurable doses of a drug work better.

2.  Screen doors on submarines -- They literally do not hold water.

3.  Claims made in spam -- No, creams do not enlarge your bust, those Nigerian princes are fake, and you cannot make $200 a day by working in your home calling people.

4.  Anyone who says "Trust me" or "I feel your pain" being sincere.

5.  Pyramid power

6.  The Loch Ness Monster -- Honestly, this sort of monster has been reported for a long time.  So why hasn't anyone found evidence of his or her mama and papa?

7.  Chiropractic -- Support your local professional masseur or masseuse instead.

8.  The putative dangers of vaccine -- Actually, it's more related to disease risk, both individually and socially.  Also, do you really want to take your cues from a former model who posed on the porcelain throne?

9.  Pat answer to any social, personal, or political problem.  Also, especially be mindful of how well worked out are the solutions.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Billy Bob Opts for a Life of Crime

Billy Bob was not one of the sharpest knives in the drawer.  He tried various pursuits, but was not especially good at them.  So, he decided to try the romance of bank robbing.  But he wanted to keep his day job which was delivering pizzas.  So he planned this money-making scheme for after work, and spent his time planning his robbery while delivering pizzas..  

At 7 PM, after he clocking out, he headed for the bank with his shotgun, only to find it closed.  The best access to the bank he could find was the ATM.  He scribbled a bank robbery note on back of a pizza delivery checklist, folded it  up, and stuck it into the ATM slot.  Nothing happened.  

So Billy Bob tried a verbal approach.  He shouted to the ATM: "Give me your money, or else."  Nothing happened.  So Billy Bob let fly with a quail load.  The pellets bounced around the place, including back at Billy Bob.  

So Billy Bob went home and watched television instead.  

The next day, a nearby F.B.I. office heard about someone vandalizing an ATM; jamming its mechanism with trash and shooting it with quail shot.  The Agent in Charge said, "Damn it, another trip to pick up Billy Bob.  I wish he had decided to be a moonshiner instead; then he would be ATF's problem instead of mine."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Are You Goody Two-Shoes?

The term Goody Two-Shoes has passed into the language to refer to an excessively virtuous person.  It derived from a 1765 children's story sometimes questionably attributed to Oliver Goldsmith.  Anyway, the desire to look good is a common human trait, only occasionally devolving into antisocial ways: the metaphorical form of a wolf wearing sheep's clothing.

The need to present oneself as looking good, or the need for social approval was subsumed in the term social desirability years ago.  Think of this as a form of impression management.  Most of us engage in situation-specific impression management; for example, this guides our dress and deportment on first dates, while visiting grandparents, going to job interviews, or meeting the President.  Obviously, most of us would not expose a bare midriff, use profanity, slouch, tell a dirty joke, or wear flip-flops in those settings.  Right?

The original scale for developing this trait was the 33-item Crowne-Marlowe Social Desirability Scale developed back in 1964.  I have not been able to find the original scale, and it's kind of long for a blog anyway; however here is a brief measure of social desirability developed by Rahman Haghighat (2007).

To find out how much of this trait you have, just answer these five items either true or false:

1.  Would you smile at people every time you meet them?

2.  Do you always practice what you preach to people?

3.  If you say to people that you will do something, do you always keep your promise no matter how inconvenient it might be?

4.  Do you ever lie to people?

5.  Would you ever laugh at a dirty joke people might make?

Scoring:  Count one point for every "true" answer on the first three items, and "no" on the fourth one.  The fifth item does not count in the scoring for various reasons; but mainly because it does not discriminate between people making a favorable impression and those who do not.  For example, common social roles limit visible enjoyment of a dirty joke based on sex, age, age of the raconteur or listener, and other factors.

In general, her are some rough (Angel's) guidelines for interpretation:

4 points -- You're either lying shamelessly or expect canonization in the next go round.  If the former, you qualify for public office.  

3 --  You're high in social desirability.  You are strongly motivated to be approved of by others.

2 -- You have some tendency to frame how other people think about you.  This is not bad, though.

1 -- Possibly you have mild social desirability tendencies; but are not dominated by them.  Or, you have a single quirk.  Or you have internalized some guiding rules for your conduct.  Anyways, don't worry.

0 -- You don't give a flip about what other people think about you.  Bad kitty!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Croquet Hooliganism

It was going to happen sooner or later.  Added to the already-present plague of soccer hooliganism was a new form, also sports-related.  

It started when some middle class yobs congregated in a Manchester pub to have a pint or three or perhaps a glass of single-malted.  It so happened that another group of the same type, these from Leeds, were in the same pub.  At first there was a good-nature trading of insults, then voices rose and challenges were offered.  The pub gatherers decamped for the outside, where they rudely drove wickets and pegs into the ground, and brought mallets to this at hoc setting for intercity conflict.  Unfortunately, the bobbies were nowhere in site to disperse this unruly assembly!

The matched started tamely enough, despite the participants being inappropriately dressed for an outdoor sport.  However, the joint presence of more pints of ale and the heat of an impromptu intercity conflict soon brought things to the boiling point!  It was sure to happen.  A Leeds solicitor rudely laughed when a Manchester physician got a sticky wicket.  Now the Manchester contingent thought this was dirty croquet manners; so insults and eventually fisticuffs were traded.  Ultimately, the police finally arrived and arrested six brawlers, some of whom unsportingly used their mallets in debating the pros and cons of this departure in manners.

Anyway, from this single catalytic event croquet hooliganism was born!  The croquet players adopted uniforms, and their followers wore specific colors and traveled en masse to cricket matches.  Their feminine supporters went to matches wearing risqué clothing and body paint, and egged their teams on.  I'm sad to say that these new yobbos engaged in quite a bit of aggro; and the line from Gilbert and Sullivan was well apt: "When constablatory work is to be done, the lot of a policeman is not a happy one."

This disorder spread to other parts of England, even Cornwall and Northumberland.  The croquet hooligans spread from Knightsbridge and Sloan Square to East London and thence to Hastings.  St. John's Wood was defaced with graffiti.  Stockbrokers and Members of Parliament showed up on the tube wearing black eyes and scratches.  The English middle class, when suitably aroused, could be as anarchistic as those of other orders.      

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Where to Meet Men Who Still Live with Their Parents

One unusual form of sex discrimination is still common nowadays with regard to there being a social stigma associated with young adults living with their parents.  However, this is one in which guys come out on the short end:  It seems as if it's more okay for women in their twenties or thirties to live with their parents than it is for guys.  (Remember the premise of the movie Failure to Launch?)

Reductress recently had an article on the top ten cities in which to meet men who still live with their parents.  The apron strings may be thicker in these locales, or possibly employment prospects are harsher there, according to their somewhat snarky comments:

1.  Davenport, Iowa
2.  Staten Island, NY
3.  Salt Lake City, Utah
4.  Homer, Alaska
5.  Odessa, Texas
6.  Flint, Michigan
7.  Homestead, Florida
8.  Myrtle Beach, SC
9.  Dayton, Ohio
10.  Stockton, California

Anyway, the venerable Huff Post took up this story lately too. 

But I feel a necessity for the Devil's Advocate role here: why is continuing to live with the parents a bad thing?  It might suggest successfully being able to live in a multi-generational situation, and probably maintaining good relationships with one's parents.  They may not be parental domicile basement-dwellers who are otakus or internet trolls.

No, I'm afraid that one element behind the bitchiness inherent in the article is that the places named are not on the list of Cool Places to Live!  Seattle, Atlanta, New York City, Miami, Austin, and San Francisco did not make the roll call of these places where males live with their parents.  (At least stereotypically uncool places like Bakersfield, CA, Cleveland, OH, Omaha, NB, and Montgomery, AL were not mentioned!)

And if living with parents means having a lack of feck, or money, or independence, how come women in their twenties get a pass on it?   No, normal families (speaking from personal experience) do tend to adapt to the realities of one or more of the children going into adulthood while staying at home, and in a number of cases there may be some who return to their parents' home.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Regional Accent Reduction

There was a recent news item regarding the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN offering a Southern accent reduction class; this was canceled after numerous complainants found it to be offensive.  My first response was: How stupid and insensitive they were to offer such an offensive class.  And I got slightly pissed, besides.  (Sorry for the language.)  But, then, I wondered whether this was special negative treatment for Southern accents; or whether this kind of accent reduction treatment is given to other regional accents as well.

So I did a Google search.

I found that accent reduction classes were offered for reduction of Texas accents, New York accents, Boston accents, and several others in addition to Southern accents.  In general, some people in several different localities want to change how they sound.  It may be because they perceive their accents as burdened with certain lazy, media-supported stereotypes (i.e., the dumb Southerner, the brash, in-your-face New Yorker), or they see their accent as a handicap to career development.  In other words, accent reduction, for some, is part of a life or occupational strategy.

So is there a more desirable accent?  Apparently, it's a dialect called General American; most similar to a Midwestern accent.  Think of it as sounding like you're from Iowa, mid-state Illinois, or Nebraska.  Actually, this is what newscasters sound like.  One former newscaster, Linda Ellerbee, put it succinctly: "In television you're not supposed to sound like you're from anywhere."

I suspect that there are many who adopt a pattern of having a pattern more approximate to General American in occupational settings but switching to a back home accent or dialect when one returns to a familiar setting.  For example, the second person plural in the Southern dialect could be dropped when one hazards to go north of the Mason-Dixon line or west of Texas.  (Click on illustration to enlarge it.)  I had to learn not to sound Cajun and avoid New Orleans dialect terms.  

Okay, having been a little heavy about accents, I'll leave you with a joke about the Boston accent:

Researchers for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority found over 200 dead crows near greater Boston recently, and there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu. 

A Bird Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone’s relief, confirmed the problem was definitely NOT Avian Flu. The cause of death appeared to be vehicular impacts. 

However, during the detailed analysis it was noted that varying colors of paints appeared on the bird’s beaks and claws. By analyzing these paint residues it was determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while only 2% were killed by an impact with a car. MTA then hired an Ornithological Behaviorist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills. 

The Ornithological Behaviorist very quickly concluded the cause: when crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow in a nearby tree to warn of impending danger. They discovered that while all the lookout crows could shout “Cah”, not a single one could shout “Truck."