Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Senators and NASCAR

This sign says it all. It doesn't need any clever, snarky, or smartass remark from me.

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Incident with the American Flag

It was an interesting story from a poky little college town in southern Georgia: some students at Valdosta State University decided to hold a protest by walking on the American flag. The nature of their protest was not defined; but somehow they adopted walking on the flag as a huge way of getting attention for whatever protest they were having. No leaflets, no cue cards, no signs, nothing. They were not the most articulate of protesters, methinks. 

Along comes a young woman, identified as a veteran, who snatched up the flag to rescue it from this sort of defilement. The campus police cometh; and try to take the flag away from the irate vet. She resisted, and they have to wrestle her down to the ground to de-flag her. Anyway, neither the protesters nor the campus cops file charges. Let bygones be bygones; but they cited her for criminal trespass, meaning don't come back to V.S.U. period! Kind of harsh.

The veteran in question was Michelle Manhart, formerly an Air Force training Staff Sergeant at Lackland AFB. Reading further in The Air Force Times, Staff Sergeant Manhart apparently left the Air Force back in 2006 because she had been demoted due to having posed for Playboy magazine! And that televised paragon of rectitude, Montel Williams, criticized her on television. Oh, don't have a cow, Montel!

I admit a lot of sympathy with her with this episode in Valdosta. The protesters were deliberately trying to set off a response of some kind. As for the campus cops, they could wear giant condoms for headgear!

The Valdosta story is not over. A large "Flags Over V.S.U." rally" attracted about 4,000 people to protest the actions of the protesters and the cops. The school canceled classes for a day. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

We Go Postal

The United States Postal Service does sell commemorative stamps that people buy to augment their stamp collections or as souvenirs, a goodly percentage of which are not actually used as postage. In effect, they are selling pretty (or less) miniature pictures! But, hey, it's all to the good, isn't it? It's win-win both for collectors and the USPS. Now last year in the Music Icons series Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix went into that Postal Valhalla. John Lennon and Jim Morrison might make it soon as well! And country legend Johnny Cash and soul singer Ray Charles are already enshrined on stamps! Soul legend Otis Redding unequivocally deserved a stamp, as "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" surely demonstrated!

Yes, we in America honor at least some of our artists. Now, it is my understanding that the USPS issues only 20 new stamps per year, and some of those must be given to patriotic themes, anniversaries, and various whims that are officially indulged. And let's not forget the centenary of America's involvement in The War to End All Wars© coming up in 1917!

You must admit, though, that this is a winning thread for boosting stamps and encouraging American culture through philately. (Yes, I know, John Lennon wasn't American; but he did get killed in NYC.) Now since a commemorative stamp cannot be issued for a living person, we have to wait for later times to send our Barry Manilow, Britney Spears, or Mariah Carey stamps. However, maybe the USPS could ignore its rule of 20 and issue supernumerary stamps to honor others that music fans might deem worthy. And, hey, if controversy does occur, then this could provide exercise of the indignant muscles of those who love to harp on things and generates oodles of publicity! Or if they wanted publicity without strident controversy, they could issue stamps for famous doo-wop or schmaltzy singers. Or, hey, Eydie Gorme or Dean Martin!

Seriously, I think that Fats Domino rates a stamp!

But let's expand the concept of Icons, and have Great Sex Icons: Surely Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, and Jane Russell deserve stamps, not to mention some of the legendary strippers of the old days. Give some guys a shout too: maybe honor the epitome of manly cool in Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen! And how about an American Scientists series, much expanded from the one in the 1940's? Or, maybe we could issue a Notorious Outlaws Series -- Who wouldn't like to see Jesse James, John Dillinger, or some of the junk bond traders on stamps? It may be a PG stamp category in the making, but Great American Manure Spreaders would be a great category to honor tabloids, some mainstream newspapers, and members of Congress!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dr. Tichenor's Antiseptic

Here is an old ad for Dr. Tichenor's Antiseptic, an antiseptic sold in the South Louisiana and Mississippi area, including the label. The Confederate theme came from the fact that it was first developed during the Civil War by a Confederate soldier. Nowadays, sadly, it has a rather plain label.

While it was specifically marketed as an antiseptic, some people drank it as an inexpensive drink or as a way to dodge prohibition laws in some dry counties in Mississippi. In Louisiana, it was regarded merely as a panacea of sorts.

The old radio ads featured a faux Cajun Pete singing jingles like,
"Since he gargled him with Tichenor's,
His voice you cannot drown.
Good ole Dr. Tichenor's,
Best antiseptic in town."  This product still has surprising ads:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Naming Subdivisions

Real estate subdivision developers have something of an arms race going on when it comes to selecting names of their subdivisions. They try to come up with the toniest, most distinguished names possible! Now all is supposed to be fair in war, politics, and real estate; but sometimes subdivision nomenclature reaches absurd heights or depths.

Here are a few that I've encountered: Brookshire, Sheffield Heights, Fartscove, Copper Creek, Vinegaroon, Cypress Mill, Eagle Bluff, Poverty Point, Hunter's Point, Bluffhaven, Bonita Grove, and so on. Obviously, some are seemingly more distinguished than others. Would you really want to live in Fartscove or Poverty Point? Biologically-inclined people might know or discover that a vinegaroon is a nasty spider, lending an ick! association to the place! Hunter's Point might dissuade the animal rights people, and so on.

One property development near Birmingham was named Chateau Manor Estates, coupling no less than three commendatory names in one without including any fourth element that might detract from their splendor! Is that an example of the hat trick in naming something?

Anyway, here are some of the more successful ones in Raleigh: Oakwood, Stonehenge, Briefcreek, Five Points, and North Hills. You will look in vain for a real deal Sequoyah Redwood in Sequoyah Hills, though!

In Knoxville, there's Sequoyah Hills, Fourth and Gill, West Hills, Forest Heights, and Farragut. For some reason known only to them they named a neighborhood after a minor Civil War character.

In New Orleans, there's Lakeview, Metarie, Uptown, Carrollton, Gentilly, and Lake Terrace.

However, real estate people sometimes are an unimaginative lot, and they come up with examples like these. Perhaps they need some creative person's help, as Marianne Moore was supposed to have provided (and ignored) when it came to choose the name of what became known as the Edsel.

For some reason or other, developers feel that using a faux olde tyme spelling adds to the class of the setting:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Feline Bootlegging

Apartment owners with their talented legal help have managed to come up with an amazing number of restrictions built into leases that discourage certain objects or creatures from the rented apartment. One of the most common of which is felis catus, the house cat.

Now there are other no-nos: no making large nail holes (even to hang that huge ikon of Drew Brees), no loud music, no parties after 12 AM, no pot or pot-bellied pigs, no subletting.* Apparently we are supposed to be content with stuffed animals.

I can affirm that Tarheel willfulness and individualism, not to mention a paranoia against rodents, prompts several students to take in bootleg pets. Now usually cats are furtive and keep a low profile. They simply like to be catered to, have a place to sleep, and some time at night to roam. It's only when the queen is in estrus that there's much kitty ado. The smart cat lady servant may park her at the vet's office when this is going on, for the sake of everybody's sleep.

A successful strategy of bootlegging cats requires some knowledge of the habits of apartment owners: do they make regular checkup visits, and why. (One leaser in Baton Rouge came at odd hours of the evening, hoping to see me in my nightie, or maybe to detect a contraband cat!) However, the great mass of apartment owners in student neighborhoods tend to have a laissez-faire strategy for keeping up with things, including repairs. Therefore, by early October, the renters have settled into a comfortable routine of no Gestapo visits by landlords desirous of sticking them with extra penalties or fees, and the feline population of the apartment building has grown to its fullest extent.

However, the feline bootlegger should follow a few tried-and-true means to slip under the radar. (1) No cat litter boxes out in the open in the apartment; (2) No cutesy Louis Wain prints as decorations; (3) Hide your copies of Cat Fancy under other magazines; (4) No Hello Kitty items, even the vibrators. Ooops, especially any Hello Kitty vibrators! [There is such a thing.]

Naturally, apartment renters adopt a conspiracy of silence: no one knows anything about weed, wild parties, or contraband critters! It helps if you're a good ole boy or girl and not standoffish. Go along and get along.

Or you can go the semiferal cat friend route: kitty sleeps and is fed, and is allowed inside on a now-and-then basis. But, that's no fun! And any underage drinking college student is not going to take leaser's rules too carefully. Who knows; buy the time one's senior year rolls around, one might get a pet llama as an apartment mate!

*There is a Sublette County in Wyoming. II suppose subletting is okay there.

A Louis Wain picture of cats playing musical chairs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Phideaux the Wonder Dog

Phideaux* the Wonder Dog was Tee Boudreaux's pet dog. Now before he went to high school in Terrebonne Parish, little Boudreaux had a lot of time on his hands in between running trap lines and crawfishing, so he trained his dog Phideaux.

Now Phideaux was a scent hound, He was really into scents. As a matter of fact, he lived to smell. He also smelled to others; but it was okay, because he smelled like a dawg!

Doggies can have moments when they embarrass humans, like when they sniff crotches or get overly friendly with legs. Boudreaus knew this, and trained his dog Phideaux to sniff from the other side, but only if someone was wearing a swimsuit.

(Dogs are very trainable. And early teen boys can be single-minded when it comes to mischief. Even the parish priest or the deputy can rein them in.)

Actually, his cousin Marie and his sister Chantal helped too. He would tape a small dog treat in the cleft of their butts to provide Phideaux with a variety of targets to practice on. After thirty trials Phideaux became a skilled butt hound -- ready for the National Trials for Butt-Tracking!

Came the day to reveal the dog's skills! The Boudreaux family went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a day of fun and sun, and took Phideaux along. Now Papa and Mama Boudreaux was unaware of Phideaux's skill.

The girls on the beach oohed and ahhed over the cute doggie with the soulful eyes. Phideaux was a chick magnet of sorts, and enjoyed the attention. Then they went on to play a little volleyball on the beach. When they turned the other cheek, ol' Phideaux sprung into action. The second one he snuck up on jumped four feet with a squawk. Not a sexy sound, but when you have been goosed by a dog, your vocabulary is somewhat limited. One of the older Boudreauxes laughed; can you guess which one?

Phideaux did not give all his attention to girls in bikinis; no, he investigated male butts too, including one of a Harrison County deputy.

Phideaux became known as Phideaux the Goose Hound after that!

*Pronounced "Fi-doh."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cowgirl Melinda Goes to Rodeo Drive

What's as unlike Wyoming as can be? Well, New York City and Paris come to mind, and we can throw in Marrakesh. But Cowgirl Melinda went to that Baghdad-by-the-Sea, Los Angeles, Yes, the City of Angels! Things were different here: people drove Mercedes and Beamers rather than pickup trucks. Yes, there was even an absence of those tarted-up ones that urban cowboys drove, with the big ole engines that make a lot of noise, have jacked-up suspensions, and even cow's horns on the hood! She stiffly concluded that she was a stranger in a strange land: not even the acceptably weird of Colorado. For one, everyone drives to great length to go from place to place. She nary saw anyone mosey there. But what if it's a fine day, and you want to galumph to the store for a burger and Coke?

Well, you find out that they call it soda there, and get their burgers from the In-and-Out. Now Melinda thought at first that someone was talking dirty to her, but found out that it was a popular hamburger chain. And most of the hands on the job had to commute in to the city where the rich folks live: like in Beverly Hills or Hollywood or even Santa Monica.

Well, Melinda was totally confused by this hectic place, and found out that the major vittles came from Mexican restaurants, taco and other kinds of food trucks, and for people on an expense account that knew someone important, those posh restaurants. These are the kind of places there is valet parking; and if you bribe the valet, he will bring back your ride! Apparently, holding cars hostage in big in Tinseltown.

Well, our poor cowgirl was totally disoriented; but she came on a street with a promising name: Rodeo Drive. Maybe it was just time to chill and watch a rodeo. But where was it? There was mostly pricey stores, bearing names that were unfamiliar in Buffalo or Ten Sleep or even in Casper! Maybe the last town being named for the friendly ghost kept the high rent places away....Anyway, she looked in a jewelry store, and wondered if she read the prices right but thought that, naw! The store guy left out the periods. Or maybe the prices were in pesos.  And in another store, she saw a microskirt, and asked where the bottom was? No, she didn't see any hookers, like in the movie, and the local law was polite, unlike in movies set in the L.A. area.

What was disappointing, moreover, was the absence of rodeo hands. Maybe she happened to go on an off day for rodeos.....  What she did see was a lot of tall, artificially endowed women and older men wearing bad toupees! For some reason, the place attracted boobs and tall women. 

Cowgirl Melinda then resolved to go over to Venice to take a gondola ride, or maybe to Hollywood to see the Walk of Shame, or Walk of Fame. Anyway, the one with the stars with names on them. Surely John Wayne got one. He rated one, she thought; except for The Quiet Man. Too many ridiculous and hurtful stereotypes.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Lewd Dude's Guardian Angel

According to Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, each of us has our own guardian angel, a numinous spirit that watches over us and, hopefully, keeps us on some semblance of the straight and narrow path. Obviously, their job may or may not be easy, depending on the human assigned to them.

We must remember, though, that these guardian angels, though noncorporeal beings who will perpetually exist, have their own limitations.  My guardian angel Steve, for example, shows a typical male cluelessness with regard to fashion and needed my guidance.  But for the most part, their limitations are small-scale.  Thank goodness!

Even the Lewd Dude has a guardian angel.  Her name is Chloe.  (Yes, they assigned him one of a different sex too.)  And apparently she is very scatterbrained, and not terribly diligent in her guardian angel duties.  But, as Chloe put it, what she does is good enough for government work!  Which government, she wisely did not name.  I am sorry to say that she sometimes stays back home in Hoosier Country while the Lewd Dude roams at large.

Speaking of government work, Chloe is hoping that the Lewd Dude will be appointed censor of movies after he attains adulthood.   Or perhaps he might find meaningful employment as a bouncer in a coffeeshop.  Chloe's view is that her job is not too difficult if you deliberately not notice a lot of things.  What she is unaware of cannot hurt her.

Chloe forgot something and can't remember what it is.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Upholstered Porch Furniture and Southern Individualism

Occasionally readers of the internet encounter doings of HOAs with restrictive rules as to what kind of lawns, what kinds of colors may be used for houses, or what kinds of property embellishments might be included. Occasionally HOAs discourage flagpoles for American flags, or seasonal or sports-themed banners as well. And whirly gigs or other eccentricities can be negatively sanctioned too. Bunch of meanies!

Just as well that I'm an apartment dweller, at least for now. However, apartments may have certain restrictions, either from the apartment owner, or from the larger community. For example, a local ordinance in many towns prohibits the placement of old upholstered furniture on porches, the practice being regarded as "tacky." Now this goes in the face of an old fashioned Southern collegiate tendency. Why Southern? Simply because they can there. I can't imagine Boston university students sitting on sofas on their porches in November!

But why sit there? Because the  guys and gals like to watch things pass, especially people and police cars. (It gets boring in late week day afternoons.) And, to be honest, television is no good, especially in the afternoon.

But there's an additional side to it, as John Shelton Reed observed years ago. The South is a hotbed of intense individualism. They have a distrust of the exercise of authority over their ability to go to heaven or hell or nowhere as they individually see fit. As he put it, "They can have my La-Z-Boy when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers!" This intense individualism does tend to rear its head in surprising ways, like front porch furniture choices!

And that intense individualism is the reason why dry counties don't work. And, if we are going to be honest, that's why laws against gay marriage are also not going to go over very well in the long run. There are openly gay couples in the South, and they're part of the social fabric. There's no barrier to gays being individualistic too! The South is a remaining area of the lower 48 states that encourages tribalism (think of small town football games on Friday nights) and an individualism that permits doing whatever one pleases. (I don't have to invoke the purple prose of W. J. Cash to call it to mind!) This individualism sometimes can be anti-progressive, as in attempts to legislate proper land use; but, properly invoked, it can also be in accord with progressive values.

And it's a quintessential Southern tradition to accept when people 'do the right thing,' without inquiring too carefully how they got to be doing so. Even if it's the laziness of sitting on old sofas on porches.

Old rockers hanging out on a porch sofa.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Much Ado About Spring Break

In the very second post of my blog, I speculated that people who are guardians of public morality provide out of the goodness of their heart the social service of exhorting the moral way; and to give the rule transgressors some exemplar so that they can feel more daring than what the action calls for. As a matter of fact, I described them as very much like public servants!

A recent possibility of this type comes from Buffalo State University in olde New York. There, the student newspaper published a special April Fool's satirical paper reporting (falsely, I think) that the University President launched drone strikes against student leaders and that Governor Cuomo banned snack foods. No less than the SGA types took offense; and froze the funds for the student newspaper.

Now, in my opinion, that satire was pretty weak and not particularly believable or offensive. But offensive, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder! A little bit of SGA overkill; but they are almost always a humorless lot.

Recently Elvis posted a posted a video from Fox News in which a panel, led by Todd Stearns, ripped into the university students who went to Panama City Beach for Spring Beach. Kind of an edition of The Spring Breakers without Selena and with a horse's gluteus maximus moralizing on the side.  Anyway, Stearns decried in apocalyptic terms about lack of a moral compass, where are the parents, and other stuff. Why is this poor man channeling Cotton Mather? And then I had an insight: it's the bikini-wearing teens who are providing this news commentator with a service: They provide a convenient occasion for the prudish to spend a whole week visiting P.C.B, and ogling the bodies while waxing moralistic about it all. Plus Fox News has an easy to come by way of filling air space.

Geesh! Is this overkill, or what? Have the Democrats been lazy by failing to provide sufficient material for them to get worked up about? Or are they simply jealous because they have to slave in a hot newsroom while teens frolic on the beach? Is it the old ants vs. grasshoppers theme from the fable? No, I think we all know why they spent so much time. Naughty news commentators! Clean up your act!

Or are you preparing to declare a War on Spring Break©? Just remember: Spring Break is also an all-American event; and the present-day spring break revelers may have grandparents who were spring breakers themselves!                             

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Keeping the Rougarou Away

The rougarou, or loup-garou, is a mythical swamp dweller in Louisiana who is very much like the werewolf of Eastern Europe. This is a human who shapeshifts into a wolf, whether when the moon is full, or by choice, or having failed for seven years to perform his or her Lenten duties. Anyway, rougarous are not very popular. Some parents advise their children to behave lest the rougarou come to get them!

Since there are these kinds of bad hombres running around, it is no surprise that in folklore there are supposedly effective techniques to thwart them. One way is to leave 13 pennies or 13 beans by the door to the house. Supposedly, when the rougarou tries to enter to do some mischief on a child within, he starts to count the pennies. However, rougarous are dense: they can't count past twelve and so they get upset and go away. I put out 13 pennies, just in case!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bubba's Fears

Bubba went to a psychiatrist. "I've got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there's somebody under it. I'm scared. I think I'm going crazy."

"Just put yourself in my hands for one year," said the shrink. "Come talk to me three times a week, and we should be able to get rid of those fears."

"How much do you charge?"

"Eighty dollars per visit, replied the doctor."

"I'll sleep on it," said Bubba.

Six months later the doctor met Bubba on the street. "Why didn't you ever come to see me about those fears you were having?" asked the psychiatrist.

"Well Eighty bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money! A bartender cured me for $10. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup!"

"Is that so! And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?"

"He told me to cut the legs off the bed! - Ain't nobody under there now!"

The Athletic Committee Recommends

A college in a state with three or four major institutions that are nationally competitive in the two major sports has overly steep competition; and North Central State College pretty much wrote off the likelihood of their fielding nationally prominent teams in football or basketball. No, that was as unlikely as a tsunami in Kansas. So the Athletic Committee was charged by the President to suggest certain sports in which NCSC could achieve national promise.  

The committee, composed of faculty members and administrators of impeccable credentials, proposed certain criteria that should be met: (1) It must be capable of attracting a large audience; (2) It must be relatively inexpensive to fund; (3) It should be attractive to being televised; (4) Ideally, it should be unisex, thus easily meeting Title IX criteria. 

Accordingly, at the start, several possible sports were nominated. They were: (1) NASCAR racing; (2) beach volleyball; (3) foosball; (4) cow-tipping; (5) competitive cheerleading. The committee considered the pros and cons of each of those.

Well, foosball and cow-tipping were quickly eliminated. Foosball because it had the stigma of being played mainly by drunken fraternity boys, and cow-tipping because it would draw the relentless opposition of PETA and irate farmers. Besides, foosball was not proven to be a crowd drawer or have television possibilities.

NASCAR had the virtues of there being a regional appetite and audience for this activity, it had a built-in audience, and the institution's logo and colors could be tastefully placed on both the car and driver. However, Professor Snoodley raised the question as to whether NASCAR was a real sport: it seemed to involve basically the capacity to perform two activities: accelerate and turn left a lot. Anyway, this activity is done by professional drivers; and the NCAA wouldn't permit pros instead of "student-athletes." Still, a noisy sport and the fierce competition and the possibility of messy crashes did appeal to the primitive in sports fans.

So that left beach volleyball and competitive cheerleading. Both of those had possibilities: they drew sizable audiences in places where it was available. For instance, a beach or stadium with a sandy playing field in the case of beach volleyball or some kind of setting for competitive cheerleading. Not a problem: sand is easily purchased at Home Depot.

Beach volleyball was unquestionably a sport. Some prudes might object to the skimpy swimsuit costumes; but it is one in which the players are fit and trim, competition can be intense, and there is intense physical activity and skill involved. Undeniably, large numbers of people would pay to watch beach volleyball if they could. The players could be student-athletes, there is need of only one coach, a trainer, and some guy to keep the cats off the playing field. Consider this: would people rather pay to see some drunken louts play foosball or tip cows; or trim athletes play volleyball?

Competitive cheerleading is already common on the high school level nationally and on the college level in the case of the west coast. Professor Dilweed observed that some people question whether it is a real sport; but Professor Simpson compared it to gymnastics and observed that it does have injury rates comparable to football and hockey. And it is par excellence a unisex sport!

So accordingly, the Athletic Committee recommended to the Board of Trustees that North Central State College adopt either beach volleyball or competitive cheerleading as an additional sport to replace football since the team was legendary in its haplessness and nonattendance.