Monday, August 31, 2015

Nobody for President!

As odd as it might be, there is a substantial number of people who are not too keen on any of the Presidential candidates.

Or maybe it's not so odd, given the quality of discourse and the apparent lack of truthiness of some of the major players. There's the Democratic front runner (for now), getting under a cloud. And the Republican front runner who conducts his campaign like a true rabble-rouser. And the others: ordinary scolds, loonies, proto-fascists, and so forth. One East Coast Governor who is running literally lives large. 

The disgruntled even are getting organized, like in years gone by:

Or supporting minority candidates, like Deez Nuts:

I worry that the little stickums people wear on election day will go from:

to this one:

Anyway, I'd like to join Fat Freddy's parade right now (sorry Bobby).  There's too much demagogery, too much playing on peoples' worst instincts, so much skirting of the issues. These are not running for some no-count Student Government President!

Sorry about my squawk . . . .

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Katrina Ten Years Afterward

On this date, ten years ago, New Orleans was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, which also devastated the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coasts. More than 80% of the city's area was flooded, and much of the population relocated. Over 1,800 people in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama died as a result of  the hurricane and flooding.

New Orleans has  come back; maybe not necessarily like the New York Times would have wished. But it is steadily coming back!

Here's some scenes from my neighborhood after the levees broke and the floods came, Lakeview:

Harrison Ave. and Colbert St.

Near the Lakewfront

Canal Blvd. underpass

Mt. Carmel Academy, on Robert E. Lee Boulevard

Where the levee broke

Friday, August 28, 2015

The World of the Mall Rats

Okay, since we've apparently drifted into our four year cycle of Year of the Locust with some of the performers taking up the jacket with popped collars of douchebag politicians*, it's time to look at some items in the news. One is that malls are becoming less favored hangout places for teens; only fewer preteens hang out in these places nowadays, according to that reliable liberal source of youth culture, NPR.  Instead, these absent teens are shopping on-line. Another crime to lay on Amazon!

Sometimes Mom or Dad would give us a lift out to the mall. When I was in that age range, there were several preteens riding the Veterans Highway bus into sprawling suburban Jefferson Parish to the several malls located there. The best and most distant one, way over in Kenner, even had a Café du Monde for us to get our chicory coffee fix when we needed it. And there was the usual suspects of stores, the Bath and Body Works, The Gap, Spencer's, Victoria's Secret, Starbucks, and others. Malls, naturally, had movies, if you could afford it.  And, of course, there were guys! This was especially important for those who attended single-sex schools. Parents figured out what the reason was, but that was O.K. with them.  

What did we do? Mostly hang out; but go into stores periodically for light shopping and to allay the anxieties of mall cops that we're committing loitering! Yes, there was the coffee, and the ice-cream, and other diet sabotages.

Which gets to the real reason for hanging out at malls: we went there to meet guys! This setting was reasonably safe, and open for casual meetings. Sometimes kids would pair off; and sort-of-date while in the mall. This was a setting for doing this before dating was officially permitted, and boys not having to deal with the uncomfortable moment and possible questions by her parents. Besides, none were old enough to drive a car!

Light intimate moments were hard to come by; however, slipping into a clothing store for adults and kissing amid the clothing racks could be done. Most often the ladies were too engrossed by shopping to care. (Imagine Tee Angel necking with a guy in Coldwater Creek. Sordid, no?)

Naturally, the session would be limited by curfews and the last running of the busses or pickups by sympathetic parents. Most dads do not have a sense of humor at having to pick up a tardy daughter at the far end of Jeff Parish! Lakeside and Clearview were far enough out in the boondocks. But my Dad came through when needed!

*You know damned well whom I'm alluding to.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Charivari on the Bayou

Ole Big Boudin was a bit of a pain; plus he was a cheap son of you know; and everybody nearby was surprised and chagrined that he got married; and to none other than Suzette Clairvieux, the prettiest girl from the high school.  Only she didn't graduate yet; and Big Boudin was In his forties. Un trés grand scandale! 

And the bayou people talked, despite sermons by the good father against gossiping. But gossiping, you know, is cheaper than beer. Good beer is trés cher, c'est vrai!  

And the young men were disappoint, you know! They were all hoping that they would marry Suzette; but Big Boudin spoiled that dream and it was a long way down to number two! They were talking in the bar; a place for idle hangers-on, and they got a good buzz on.  You wid me so far? Why would Suzette, a jeune fille with such promise, get tied to that much older guy? This was the subject of speculations, and dubious surmises: (1) Ole Boudin took Suzette's virtue, and got her in a family way. (2) She married Ole Big Boudin because he had lotsa dollahs! (3) Her family made her do it. (4) She admired Big Boudin's working parts; after all, why was he nicknamed Big Boudin? There are reasons for things. 

I will mention that Boudreaux and Thibodeau, young mans, were among the major drinkers and talkers; and when Meaux said, "Let's do a charivari, they were in!  A charivari was an old custom practiced by a community whenever a mismatched couple got married; they do it to express their collective disapproval.  And they did the numbers: 45 - 16.  Hmmm.

So they went to their houses, both boys and girls, told their Mamas who told their Pops to get off their lazy butts -- we're going to do a charivari! Most were strongly game, and they came with pots, pans, Granny's old washboards, horns, fireworks, and pistols.  Oui! Fils des biches have big time on the bayou! 

So about midnight they gathered at Big Boudin and Suzette's house, and started a hellacious din!  Now the newly married couple were about to, how should  put it? Test drive their marriage, so to speak. When Boudin gets jerked up by that incredible din! It was more noise heard on the bayou since the Yankees made their one-way trip up the bayou in 1864 or so. Anyway, all the animals began to howl, even the raccoons! Suzette snatched the covers up; and Big Boudin put on his robe and went to the door with his shotgun. Alas, he was outnumbered; the whole parish seemed to be there! Even the sheriff's deputies, all making noise. 

So Big Boudin, cheapstake so-and-so he was, decided to wait them out. After all, they would get tired! But no such luck. One A.M. came, followed by 2 A.M. Then 3 A.M. You get a pattern here?  The charivari noisemakers got reinforcements: some from Grand Mamou and Alligator Point. So the noise went on.

Finally, Suzette put her dainty foot down,  "Big Boudin, you stop being such a cheapskate and give those neighbors some beer and whiskey." Well, Big Boudin wouldn't do it, so she said, "Dammit, Boudin!  Either you treat them or we have separate bedrooms."

So Big Boudin caved in, and put out a spread. And the neighbors and the outsiders from Big Mamou congratulated the couple on tying the knot. And so having a charivari returned as a custom on the bayou!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Funny or Odd Highway Signs

Perhaps I'm easily amused, but occasionally the tedium of driving is broken up by unusual or amazing highway signs. 

Here's one from Oxford, Mississippi on the Ole Miss campus.  The speed zones are set there at 18 mph in honor of former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning. He wore an 18 on his jersey:

The Beast must reside along this U.S. Highway in Indiana:

Here are two for stoners to gravitate toward:

Speaking of stoners, in Idaho apparently stoners tended to steal milepost 420 repeatedly.  The highway department, in response, came up with this replacement.  I wonder whether the rate of sign-stealing will go down with this one:

There must be a lot of cunning linguists who steal this sign:

Finally, since some states use individual shapes to designate their state highway signs, this can be a source of amusement.  If you have an urge for a quiz, go to this quiz to see how many you can identify.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Too Much Ado in Alabama About Nothing

The time in mid-summer when sororities recruit new pledges is a big thing in some places, including the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  Now that's one of the places I pass through, and I've strayed from the interstate unto the campus there and University Boulevard, the main drag through it.  It's a nice-looking place.  Many sororities have developed recruitment videos, and the sisters of Alpha Phi have as well.  Here are some scenes from the one in question:

You may want to do a Google Search for the one in its entirety.  It lasts about five minutes.  It even has an elephant twerking in it.  

Beginning with an article appearing on, the you-know-what hit the fan!  Specifically, the article castigated the sorority members for being too blonde, too girly, not racially diverse enough, bikinied, and emphasizing girls' fun too much and book learning too little!  

Because of this media criticism, the University of Alabama made them take it down; however, you can see this video at Jezebel; somehow appropriately named.

My guess is that the typical freshman students gets serious academia, future goals, lofty ideals, and topics favorable to older adults up their collective wazoos during orientation!  And, after all, joining a sorority is one path to finding congenial friends, relaxation, and plain old fashioned fun!

Apparently the writer, one A. L. Bailey, got exercised by the frivolity of it all.  Was the author's ideal a tremendously diverse, terminally serious, grumpy, unfashionable group that spontaneously rises to support worthy causes; at least causes that the Eastern establishment press seems to champion!  Hey dude or dudette!  This is Alabama; and those are 18-22 year olds.  These are not a collective organization of women deans!

Anyway, that thought piece evoked a tremendous response in, almost as great as I assume Alabama and Auburn football would draw.  The original columnist gave the opinion that the video was worse than Donald Trump's put-downs of women!  Another one complained that she got a lot of negative responses and cyberbullying, but that she was not the same A. L. Bailey who was culprit.  She was, reasonably enough, a fashion writer.

Now, although I'm involved in academe, I would have to call this making a mountain out of a molehill.*  Is there such a dearth of news down there that a five-minute video would make such a response?  It's not like some legislators or football coaches making a sex tape, you know!  Are we so locked into puritanism and hyperregulating other peoples' actions?  And, dang it: Shouldn't diversity ideal also include being bubbly, blonde, and having a zest for life?  And, by criticizing those possibilities, aren't they likewise abridging the choices or opportunities of young women and confining them to an approved stereotype of liberal academicians or the media?

Anyway, it continued to rage for a week.  The story was covered on the Today show and in USA Today.  The Houston Chronicle put it as "reinforces every negative stereotype of sororities."  The YouTube video got over a million hits.  And it even made editorial cartoons.

Or was this simply a golden opportunity for good old-fashioned Alabama bashing?  I noticed that some took schaudenfreude when Alabama lost to Ohio State; and putting down Dixie is as American as apple pie.

Anyway, August used to be known as the silly season for news.  Apparently, is continuing that tradition.  Maybe the esteemed writer should be reminded of Cyndy Lauper's old song, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun":

*This is an American academic trait just like parsnips and Brussels sprouts pie.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Orientation to Student Cliques

Sometimes school administrators try to actively inject themselves into the lives of their charges; and since teachers are not as easily herded as they were in "the good old days," this leaves the students as the default objects of choice when it comes to being meddlesome.

So Brittany L. Freswhistle, Guidance Counselor and Assistant Principal, pored through the guidance literature to find a new, catchy problem to intervene on.  Then it dawned on her, there were some odd, outlying students that don't belong to any clique; these could be a developmental or older social problem in the future.  After all, how many mass homicides were perpetrated by boys or young adults who were described as "loners."  At least those solitary students might on occasion think!  And wind up being nonconformists.  That can be needlessly scary, unless an intervention was to take place.  That fits it well with Dewey's theory of education as a preparation for modern life.  And it's better to start them in on it early; first by coloring in the lines!

So Ms. Freswhistle started first by surveying the various groups.  (She just asked a bunch of kids.)   And her convenience sample, when allowed to be comfortable, outlined a typography of student groups.  (Students can get very comfortable when they're allowed to drink cokes, smoke, or cuss in front of authority figures.)

So her focus group came up with the following categories: (1) Jocks and Cheerleaders; (2) the SGA Types; (3) Skaters; (4) the Artsy-Fartsy Crowd; (5) the Hip-Hoppers; (6) the Socials; (7) the Hoods; (8) the Nerds, Geeks, and Dorks; (9) the Band Kids; and (10) the La-Di-Dah group.  Well, poor Brittany had to accept that those were the categories; but she saw fit to give some of the category names euphemisms,  It's never too early to teach proper socialization by using weasel words.  She pretty well accepted the inevitability of cliques, and thought it would be useful to teach incoming students about the range of crowd memberships they could belong to.

And she got the Arty Crowd who fancied that they could act to dress up and perform like typical persons in each group.  This was done before a convened assembly of the incoming Freshman Class during School Orientation.  And she entitled the production, "Fitting in at Riverside High, 2015."

It did stir things up, to be sure.  While the Arty performers reveled in their opportunity to perform before all, the reception by the other groups was quite mixed. The SGA Types were flattered, taking it for the homage due them.  The dorks were amused.  Think of how Napoleon Dynamite would have reacted: more cowbell!  The Hip-Hoppers, Athletes or Cheerleaders, and the Hoods were totally pissed at being parodied.  And poor incoming students who aspired to be Socials or Skaters found out that achieving acceptance in those crowds was harder than thought.

Despite those apparent flaws, Ms. Freswhistle felt like a real hipster guidance counselor and saw a bright future for this type of intervention.  Maybe she could work it up into a scholarly paper and really wow them at some learned society meeting.  That would certainly beef up her vita for a future principal's position.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Facebook Don'ts

Occasionally there are cautionary articles about what to disclose or not disclose on Facebook.  Well, self-disclosure is the current trend with people of various ages; but there's both interesting and not-so-interesting information to disclose. And, more to the point, remember your audience.  Not just the intended audience (family and friends), but the nosy, unexpected one as well!

For example, if you are applying for a job, remember that Human Resources officers might open your Facebook page to find out more about you; it's a fairly standard practice to do an internet search on a potential candidate to see if any red flags pop up.  Likewise, selective admission colleges and university do so as well. Just remember that employers and universities are risk-aversive and try to select people who are likely to be a credit to them, and not a problem!  Therefore, I don't do Facebook  Sorry, Mike Zuckerberg! 

So here's my suggestion as to what not to have on your Facebook page: 1) Pictures of you using drugs or alcohol; 2) Pictures of you doing anything illegal; 3) Wearing t-shirts with unpleasant, antisocial, or intolerant messages on them; 4) Irony of any type, which is subject to misinterpretation; 5) Wearing a Confederate flag bikini or microbikini; 6)  Anything that fussbudget H.R. or admissions officers might find questionable, like participating in a roller derby or belonging to a snake-handling cult.

Religion and politics are touchy topics.  After all, it is not unheard of HR officers themselves having prejudices also!  Avoid mentioning religions that involve worshipping graven images, animal sacrifices, or the wearing of outlandish outfits, even on Casual Friday!  Politics?  Let's see: even when either of the two major political parties nominate duffuses, they still manage to get 40% of the vote!  And if you admit that you might vote for a third party, most everyone thinks you're unstable.  

For that matter, choose your e-mail address carefully; any choice that is seen as  showing juvenile, cute, ironic, risqué, or other unreliable traits is to be avoided.  Naturally, the title of this blog (eViL pOp TaRt) would set off little alarms of unreliability.  And your friends: bless them!  But friends may make snarky remarks on your page.  Horrors!  Snarkiness is anathema in the worlds of commerce and academe!  In the everyday world of job- education-seeking, bland is good!

Once I wore a t-shirt with a slogan that made fun of the Communist Party; I was subject to criticism from some elderly NYC leftists who did not find it funny.  I guess not having a sense of humor goes with fanaticism.

Other things not to post: too many pictures of dogs or cats, your b.f.'s muscles, participation trophies for dance contests, memorable dinners you have eaten, or pictures of your knees or tush while lying on a beach!  Okay, this doesn't sound like a lot of fun; but the R/L worlds of commerce or academia are not.

This can even apply to public officials.  For example, the County Clerk of Knox County posted this gem, according to Knox News:

Believe, me, this chick didn't have "Knows How to Fire a Weapon" as among my criteria for 'my man.'  I prefer more the companionable traits in Dee-Doh.  (Besides, he has other assets.)  And I also prefer more measured discourse from a public official.

Remember: your Human Resources Department is watching you, not to mention eager beaver reporters if you slide into the newsworthy!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cruising in Alaska

Taking a cruise is something entirely new for me, and I found a lot about it to take in when we went.  Some gentle readers probably experienced the scene already; but for me, everything was different.  Let's face it, it wasn't riding the Algiers ferry!  So here's my take on the experience:

1.  The ship, the Westerdam, was beautifully decorated, with artwork in the public places and stairwells.  Nautical paintings were common.

2.  The bars were nice; mostly noisy but we found a quiet one called the Crow's Nest high in the front.  They had entertainment there in the form of a guitarist.  And, amazingly enough, I was not carded once!  We could charge drinks on our room card.

3.  The main dining room had good food; some tarted up and ascribed to big-name chefs, at least according to the menu.  When our dinner came, we thought, like, "You got to be kidding!"  The size of the steak was humongous.  And looking at nearby tables, some people went in for two appetizers or two or more entrées!  I don't know about the other Six Deadlies, but Gluttony was in full force!  

4.  While the demographics of the passengers were more heavily 50+, there were some 20's that gravitated together. And gathered in the bar.    

5.  I tried Alaska Amber beer, and it was delightful!  

6.  When the vessel was cruising, away from the ports, the casino was very busy!  No, I didn't play.  

7.  The crew was largely Indonesian and Filipino; but the ship's officers were Dutch.

8.  I brought my swimsuit along; but my friend and I found the swimming pool to be too cool and out of doors.  Temps were in the 50's or 60's in Ketchikan and Juneau; but jacket, hat, and long johns were needed at Glacier Bay. 

9.  There were several pricy shops selling overpriced merchandise in the public areas on the lower decks; apparently shopping is a bona fide cruising activity.

10.  Holland America had games; but they were more sedate.  No wet t-shirt contests like some have.  They had a stage show at night, but it was not our taste.

11.  I was amazed that the emphasis that some people put on drinking: imagine full-fledged older adults drinking like college freshmen!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Ideal Mistress

On my trip, I met a young woman from Wisconsin who indicated that she had a sugar baby relationship with an older man.  Undoubtedly, she was trying to shock the Southern girl (me) she was talking to.  And it worked.  But it caused me to wonder what do older men prefer in a mistress?  The site Seeking Arrangements recently polled 486,000 men and came up with these characteristics preferred in someone the older men preferred in their arrangements:

Age: 26 to 31 years old 
Hair color: Blonde (61% of these "gentlemen" prefer blondes.)  
Eye color: Green  (41%)
Body type: Athletic (33%) 
Breast size: 32D  (You got to be kidding!)
Ethnicity: Caucasian (32%), Asian (30%) 
Occupation: Student pursuing a Bachelor's Degree or higher (98%)
Relationship status: Single 
Smoking habits: Non-smoker  
Drinking habits: Social drinker  
Other: Does yoga (Namaste; must look cute in the downward dog pose.)

Type of allowance expected: Moderate Allowance (up to £3,200 a month; whatever that translates into dollars.)

Keywords: yoga, energetic, sensual, open minded 

About two out of five of the older men in these arrangements are married!

It dawned on me that I make eight of the criteria; but no soap.  

But I have some general questions, good people.

1.  Why not women younger than 26?  Is it because their interests, conversation, and sexual prowess makes for them being less satisfactory mistresses?  After all, Madame Pompadour was in her 40's during her heyday.

2.  How long does the typical "arrangement" last?

3.  Have any studies been done on consumer satisfaction?

4.  Do older men and their former partners occasionally meet for auld lang syne sake? 

5.  What do older women, younger women, older men, and younger men think about the older men who seek such "arrangements"? 

6.  Is any one grossed out by the relationship being adulterous in two cases out of five?

7.  What other traits does the mature man 'seeking arrangements' desire in the younger woman?  Such things like sophisticated bearing, tastes in music, art, literature, depth of knowledge?  Or are they mainly interested in arm candy?

8.  Is "sugar daddy" simply a euphemism for "john"?

9.  Finally, are the two sometimes seen in public spaces, like in restaurants, at the opera, or at conventions?

Sorry for my bluntness with these questions!  I'm somewhat retro in some of my outlooks.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Alaska, Wow!

Last week I went to a magical place -- Alaska.  Or, to be more precise, a cruise up the Alaskan Panhandle.  This is a wonderous natural wonderland chock full of bears, whales, glaciers, and even cute little critters like sea otters!  There's salmon running in rivers, totem poles, quaint little towns, and other awesome sights.  

Here is a shot of a humongous piece of ice breaking off of a glacier in Glacier Bay National Park!  They call it calving!  It was cold there, in the high thirties, in early August.

I like these little guys, sea otters taking their leisure by swimming on their backs:

This was near Sitka, a community with a fantastic Russian Orthodox church there.  It was kind of tucked away, so getting a good composition was not possible.
 We walked on a bridge over a stream that was filled with salmon swimming upstream.

Juneau was a cruise port.  It's the state capital, and the capitol is rather plain or nondescript.  Jewelry is sold at many places; and I guess it's de rigeur to buy some on a trip to the Last Frontier.  Nothing about gold rushes nowadays.  Juneau is unique among state capitals; it has no roads connecting it to other places.  As a person there put it, "There are three ways you can get to Juneau: by plane, by boat, or by birth canal."  They also tell of an Alaska Airways jet that collided with a salmon dropped by an eagle!

Ketchikan is quaint, with lots of totem poles plus a lot of rain.  It's the wettest town in the fifty states.

I'll write some more after I get everything back on an even keel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cajun Flag

Actually, this is officially the flag of Acadiana, a region of Louisiana.  It was designed in 1965 by Thomas J. Arceneaux, a professor of something or other at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana - Lafayette).  The Louisiana legislature officially adopted it in 1974.

The upper blue part represents the French heritage of this region.  The lower red one represents the fact that Louisiana was Spanish at the time of the arrival of the Acadians, and the white part of the flag with the star represents Our Lady of Assumption, the Patroness of the Acadians.  No, there's no session movement there; either from Louisiana or the rest of the U.S.  

I don't know where or when it might be used; but us Louisianans love pageantry in its various forms, particularly if it provides an excuse for music.  Yes, even accordion music, sad to say.  But go easy on speech making, whatever the occasion.  

For the curious, Acadiana is found in the following part of Louisiana:

The so-called Florida Parishes used to be part of the British territory of West Florida, until Bernardo Galvez conquered  it during the Revolutionary War.  Greater New Orleans ironically includes Plaquemines Parish, which is mostly swamp. North Louisiana is boring; you don't want to go there.