Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Being a Crazy Cat Lady

The term 'crazy cat lady' has been around for a while, and poplarized in The Simpsons.  It represents a specific stereotype of a somewhat single older woman with large numbers of semi-feral cats that she feeds precariously and does not effectively clean up after them. Having large numbers of cats in this kind of condition often is a form of animal hoarding, related to obsessive-compulsive behavior. There was even marketed an action figure of a crazy cat lady.

The stereotype almost always involves a middle-aged female. But why are the possible concepts 'crazy cat gentleman' or 'crazy cat couple' not also floating around? 

And why does no one refer to 'crazy dog lady' or 'crazy dog couple'?

Anyway, how many cats constitutes animal hoarding? From what I've read, five cats is seen as a possible dividing line; but this allows for some wiggle room. For example, are the cats well-fed and comfortable? Are the surroundings neat and clean? Is the caretaker able to live comfortably, without undue noise or odors and be able to have a normal life? If so, no problem. The bounds of obsessive-compulsive behavior are somewhat flexible.

And what if the person in question is trying to save or revive an endangered breed of cats? Obviously, these might not be seen as animal hoarders; but as protectors of endangered breeds. Or even geneticists.

Here's Dr. Lyudmilla Trut, a Russian geneticist who continued the work in domesticating the Russian domesticated red fox. Following a line of research by Dmitri Belyaev, she was able to breed over time a subvariety of fox that looked and acted more like dogs than their wild counterparts. Since her interest was genetic, she should in no way be called a 'crazy fox lady,' or simply a 'foxy lady.' Indeed, Dr. Trut has been involved in a classic, ongoing breeding study that broke some new ground on genetics and environment. Her research needs to be more widely known than is currently the case.

As a bonus, she wound up with cuddly, serious dog-like foxes that are totally adorable!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Is This the Ideal Feminine Face?

A few years ago, scientists found that among 8,000 possibilities this is the most loveable feminine face. She's Florence Colgate, and she lives in Britain. Her face is characterized by full facial symmetry (her right and left sides are identical), the pupils of her eyes are apart about 44% of the facial width (46% is ideal), and the distance between her eyes and mouth are 32.8% (33.3% is ideal). 

Florence apparently does not take this very seriously, but others did. While she was chosen by vote, apparently her biometrics very closely approximate those of the ideal female face according to scientists.

More recently, these five celebrities were the first five rated as the most ideally attractive woman: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner, and Keira Knightley.

So what specifics contribute to the ideal feminine face? The person having a heart-shaped face, almond-shaped eyes, arched eyebrows, a small, slim nose, and full lips. Apparently hair color and height are not as important. I have no idea how this research was funded but it could have applications. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Another Day of the Locust

We got a double dose of bad news, The big one, of course, is Donald Trump getting the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Guys, how could you? Have you completely turned away from the Constitution and the ideal of limited government? He's sounding like a possible strong man, playing fast and loose with our Constitution and the idea of checks and balances in government. I am totally scared. A bowel-emptying scared. This, on top of the recent shootings, makes for a bad situation. And this guy admires Vladimir Putin? Oh my God!

And to pile on the miseries, now David Duke, that former Klan leader, has announced his candidacy for the Senate from Louisiana. True, Louisiana has sent some doozies in the past, but this is taking it up a few notches. I can't do much about my beloved Louisiana, except pray.

Time to resurrect an old bumper sticker from  the past:

And not lose heart. After all, I'm an American girl!

Friday, July 22, 2016


Let's consider a possible rom-com movie story of sorts.

The scene opens with a very sincere, somewhat timid and very correct professor getting cornered by an attractive blonde with either sex or an "A" grade (perhaps both) in mind.  This is basic stock material for a sitcom or at least a teen-oriented movie.

Hips don't lie, as Shakira sang; and perky protuberances provide some further temptation.

"Ohhh, Professor. . . . I really need an "A" in my Lit class.  Is there anything I can do?"  [Corners him against the blackboard while grinding her pelvis against him]

"Well, Ms. Jones, you might spend your time studying for it."

For young and no-so-young adults, the opportunities for meeting new people become drastically limited after the time they attended college.  Mostly, they see people in their workplace.  But dating a co-worker can be risky business.  For some people, taking a college class (especially a continuing education class), is seen as an opportunity for meeting members of the opposite sex.  And all the better if the professor or other student is handsome! 

So this is both the real life and the fictional fantasy.  In the movie, the professor is always handsome and distinguished.  The flirt is always sexy and beautiful; and is willing to offer sexual considerations to get what she wants.  In some cases it's the grade; in others, it's snaring a prof for a mate.

Maybe a rom-com, in which the professor gets saved in the nick of time by the love and attention of a nice woman, who manages to eclipse the unsubtle approach of the bold woman, who gets her comeuppance in the end (plus the "C" or "D" which she rated). Real life is not so neat and tidy.

I made an iron-clad policy when I went to grad school: don't date profs in my field.  And, obviously, no married guys, period.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Other -Crats to Consider

Years ago the paleohipsters referred to those who were totally cool as "cool cats." And that was supposed to be something to aspire to in some circles. Now I don't know how long that expression was around, but it still has some cachet to it, like a Coach bag or a red carpet-worthy designer gown in some circles I'm not allowed into by the Great Doorman to Such Things to keep the Target shoppers like me at bay! 

The word "democrat" (lower case generic term) has a general meaning as well. And numerous other '-crats' are in its wake. Like:


And the allied words aristocracy, bureaucracy, kleptocracy, monocracy, technocracy, theocracy, and so forth.

But there's always a need for new words, sometimes for entertainment purposes.
Why not turdocrat or turdocracy?  Or maybe the more proper terms are coprocrat and coprocracy?

Or could we speak of Fox News as a blondocracy now?

Are the two major political parties in fact coulrocracys? The theme song for both should be "Send in the Clowns."

Is this any worse than our 40-year affair with the -gate suffix since Watergate?  That sick puppy is long overdue euthanasia.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Free Range Children

I guess it's a universal fact of society that people and groups have their own views about how to rear children as well as the long-standing opinions on politics and how many cats should a person be allowed to keep. Anyway, it seems that the presently common parental styles of attachment parenting and helicopter parenting have a subversive opposite: the concept of free range children.

Basically, the term "free range children refers to children who are allowed to roam around the neighborhood or even town without immediate supervision. The desirability of this concept seems to be founded in books like Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. To be sure, nineteenth-century river towns probably had fewer perils than large cities do today. Also, there was less widespread awareness of those possible threats. Some parents told their children to beware of the boogerman (or bogeyman). Was this term a euphemism for a child molester or killer?

Some proponents of free-range parenting occasionally elicit visits from Child Protective Services because others see her or his style to be neglectful of their children. One set of parents got called out because they allowed their eight year old daughter go on the subway unaccompanied. In response, the free-range children parenting advocates have organized free-range play groups, free-range playgrounds, and free-range Sunday School classes.

Organized free-range groups: is that an oxymoron?

Anyway, I was told when I was young that I could ride my bike anywhere in Lakeview (in big, bad New Orleans) up to the railroad underpass and Larry's Homedale Inn. Alas, Tad Gormley Stadium was not in that area, but the Mardi Gras Fountain, Harrison Avenue, and Rockery Inn were. We once put detergent in the fountain!  I made it into adulthood.

Needless to say, the French Quarter and the Central Business District were far away.

The point is, peoples' ideas about proper parenting change, sometimes this is related to the real-life situations that children have to be in. Parents should understand the child's neighborhood. And so should nosy bystanders.

Friday, July 15, 2016

What Does the Color of Your Bikini Say About You?

Simplistic measures of personality abound in the pseudo-psychology world; and occasionally those based on colors occasionally appear. The old Lüscher Color Test was one of these.

Recently, an article appeared in proposed that someone's personality would influence what color bikini she would choose to wear. Now this is nothing more than a quasi-typology; namely, that there is a type of personality who would wear a red bikini while others might choose a yellow one or a violet one, or so on. There are several presumptions in play; namely that personality is a primary determinant of swimsuit color choice and that.

But is it that simple? There are a number of things that might come into play: skin tone, fashion, availability, cost, the elusive 'different' look, boyfriends' preferences, and just plain desire for variety. Like an outfit in your school's colors, even. Not to mention patterned ones! And sometimes momentary whim enters into consumer behavior, within monetary constraints.

I guess there's a moral here, if I may be granted the plenary indulgence of trying to extract a moral from bikini choice. (Usually morals and bikinis are combined in a different, more censorious context.) The moral is, don't assume simple answers are available.

"The truth is seldom pure and never simple."
                                        -- Oscar Wilde

I'm afraid that we're living in a time when people are looking for simple, all-inclusive solutions to national and social problems; and this tendency has make a mess of our political, social, and cultural life. Some of it is intellectual laziness and the desire for panaceas. (Panacea is on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and nowhere else.)

I guess I made too much from a fun sales article. But I'm loosely free-associating about something that kind of stuck in my craw of late. Pardon my running off the rails.

Besides, what does a white bikini signify?

Monday, July 11, 2016

The House Un-American Committee on Condiments

Congress, after creeping into rest room stalls, snooping into computers, taking issue with Spring Break, and other seemingly trivial parts of American life, wound up by declaring some things downright Un-American. Now they turned to condiments.

Word got out that the prototypical American sandwiches, the hot dog and the hamburger, have been appearing with alien seasonings that causes a watchdog Congressional committee to formally take action. They noted that the All-American hamburger, instead of being righteously adorned with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, tomato, pickle, lettuce, a slice of onion, and sometimes cheddar cheese, has been presented with other elements instead: boursin, bacon, barbecue sauce, green peppers, salsa, fried eggs, and even arugula! What next, peanut butter?

One hamburger chain even advertised "have it your way;" utterly at variance with commonly-accepted ways of how a hamburger should be decorated! Some of the midwestern Congresspersons suspected Red Chinese influences at work. Maybe seeing some vendors using soy sauce caused this worry.

As for hot dogs, instead of being rightly presented with mustard and ketchup (chili for the renegade southwestern crowd), sometimes jalapeño peppers and onions appeared, not †o mention the creeping Europeanism of some subversive chefs. Clearly, this called for Congressional action. All the hallmarks of the Avocado Mafia are present.

And you know what that means? Innumerable hearings, bringing a series of cooks, chefs, and vendors in and subjecting them to the shame of a Congressional grilling. The onion rings were identified as a tell-tale sign of creeping hamburger pomposity. And steep penalties were levied. 

A night café cook in Hattiesburg was hauled in for daring to putt chili on a hamburger! What an outrage! And in New Jersey some subversive was taken off the streets for putting marinara sauce on hamburgers and hot dogs. The spray cheese cartel was brought to heel, and what is left was †he God-fearing, wholesome American hamburger and hot dog garnished in the approved ways. 

Having vanquished these alarming trends, the Committee vowed to look into the critical toilet paper matter next: The subversive under-the-roll insurgents seemed to increase in numbers, especially among the hipsters. A lot of our recent decadence can be blamed on hipsters.

Happy July, Dear Friends! Have it your way, whatever that might be. Celebrate your independence from arbitrary culinary or fashion rules.

(For the record, I don't like my-neez (mayonnaise) on mine or anything else.)

Friday, July 8, 2016

When Is It Okay to Wear Yoga Pants?

Yoga pants are seductive - both for the beholder and the wearer. So naturally there is an inertia to wearing them in a variety of additional settings in addition to the gym. Besides, sillies, we know they enhance our butts so nicely! First . . . . why not wear them for the afternoon at home after the workout at the gym . . . . then wear them to the super market when you need something or other.

You know what I mean. Creeping yoga pantsism. Will ladies eventually wear them to church or to court? (A sudder of horror from one in the discussion due to this unbridled informality.)

So this was one of those little dilemmas the ladies of St. Cletus's Parish debated while having their biweekly coffee and beignets. The usual suspects were there: Missy Chauvin, Suzette Picou, Madeline Dupré, Clotilde Badeaux, Marie D'Aquin, and the habitual overcaffeinated crowd of idlers. Well, here's why the matter came up: Father Devereaux gave a sermon on Christian modesty and not being a near occasion for others' impure thoughts and the overscrupulous got to wondering. Hey, maybe the Big Dude looked on those cranberry or black or violet semisheer yoga pants with disapproval. 

To be sure, Madeline earlier had an idea about this; so she asked her boyfriend Officer Pete if her rear view caused any impure thoughts, naively assuming that Pete would tell the truth. He denied it.

Truth to tell, a wise man should never make his woman uncomfortable about what she wears, especially if she looks good wearing it. Don't look for trouble and sulking, he thought.

Well, the discussion went 'round like a dog chasing its tail, which makes a neat metaphor for this sort of moral discussion. Theologians have them too.

Finally, Suzette proposed that we put the matter up for a vote. After all, we had a recent gubernatorial election and had some practice in voting.

Clara asked, "Are we doing it with Plaquemines Parish rules?" Plaquemines Parish is a down-river Parish from Orleans and had been known for voting irregularities in †he past, often from out-of-Parish neer-well-to-dos coming down by steamboat to vote. Nowadays the concept extends to letting anyone vote who happens to be around.

Plaquemines Parish rules were agreed as okay.

Well, although there were six in the group, somehow the official vote tally came out 24-4 in favor of yoga pants not being sinful. Deciding morality by popular vote is cool; especially if you use Plaquemines Parish rules!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Dropkick Me, Jesus: BOTB results

The old Bobby Bare classic, "Dropkick Me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life" was my Battle of the Bands offering for early July, 2016. This song has been around for quite a spell; and several different artists have taken a shot at it, with different results. Not surprising; country music has always had a ironic twist to it that would cause latter-day ironists like Alainis Morrisette to be envious! 

The song is a risky one; some people might cringe at the metaphor; but I did point our that John Donne and Gerard Manley Hopkins also strayed into such territory, There's a YouTube video of some Baptist Church singing along to it at a Pre-Superbowl Service. (There's a practicality there: if you can't beat 'em, then join 'em!) Plus they were having big fun!

Anyway, here's the final tally:

Blackwood Creek     10

Jesse and the James Gang   4

George Posseley      4

Blackwood Creek is this month's winner!

Friday, July 1, 2016

"Drop Kick Me Jesus, Through the Goalposts of Life" - BOTB

Bobby Bare had the distinction of having written and performed "the only Christian football waltz." In case you haven't heard this old ironic classic before, here's Bobby Bare's original version:

For those who might view it as irreverent, I suggested that you regard an edgy poem by John Donne: "Batter My Heart."

Anyway, for this try at Battle of the Bands, I give you a trio of performers who did covers of the original Bobby Bare song. Here's Jesse and the James Boys:

And here's George Possley doing his version:

I might mention that he described it as "the corniest country song ever written." That's his opinion.

Finally,  here's Blackwood Creek doing their thing with "Drop Kick Me, Jesus:

There you have early July's BOTB. Please give them a listen, as vote your preference among these pretenders to Bobby Bare's starry crown, with comments on the strengths and weaknesses:

Jesse and the James Boys _____
George Possley ______
Blackwood Creek ______

Do any of them approximate Bobby Bare's version?

I hope I didn't offend anyone's religious sensibiities with this one.

And please go to other BOTB sites to enjoy and participate in great competitions"