Saturday, December 31, 2016

The War on New Year's Eve™

Ah! Holidays. In times lately there are the usual naysayers and old grouches. Plus a few that are definitely anti- whatever holidays there is. And a counter trend: the pros that take umbrage with the naysayers; thus "The War on Christmas™ beloved by Bill O'Reilly and others.

Valentine's Day is one such occasion. Do we need to talk about a War on Valentine's Day™? Well, there is a small minority of parents who object to the exchange of Valentines in schools. Yes, is it because they weren't sent sufficient valentines when they were little snowflakes? And there's the killjoys who object to the cards, the boxes of chocolates, and the Valentine-suitable gifts. (Not undies if the recipient is still living with her parents.)*

But some curmudgeon raised the issue of Daylight Savings Time. Specifically, why have it? Keep things on Standard Time all year. Now it's a fact of geography. It may be so that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia**, but not as long as when the winter solstice is approached. There's good logic behind the using regular time year round: fewer accidents, less disruption of natural rhythms, and so forth. So, eventually, everyone went along. But Boston took another step and discussed going on Atlantic Standard Time, like the Maritime Provinces and Puerto Rico.***

Daylight Savings Time was not popular, anyway.

But what about New Year's Eve? Now New Year's Day is kind of a non-occasion, except for eating black-eyed peas and cabbage and watching endless football games and the Rose Bowl Parade. But cut out the Eve part. Let's face it: people drink too much, make out with others they're not married to, engage in celebratory gunfire, and wake up with hangovers the next day. Not to mention those routs called New Year's Parties! 

So let's declare a War on New Year's Eve™! That will dampen this rampant occasion for risky merry-making! Who knows: maybe someone with even come out with New Year's Eve maypoles! After all, would could be less righteous than people having fun? T'ain't American, ya know! 

*One such gift I got as a teen provoked commentary from the auntosphere.

**A television program.

***For true; this has been proposed lately.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The First Presidential Skinny-Dipper

John Quincy Adams, our sixth President, was quite the proper Bostonian. And, in the proper spirit of his times, refused to grant an interview with woman reporter, Anne Royall. However, Ms. Royall, like Megyn Kelly of a more forthright time, was not about to take no for an answer.

She heard a rumor that Quincy liked to go swimming in the Potomac in the early morning before starting his Presidential duties and looking like an old crab, maybe. So she waited a few minutes before Nature Boy was properly immersed, and surprised him while he was skinny-dipping. 

She sat on his clothes, and demanded an interview.

John Quincy Adams was not happy, to say the least; but he relented, and gave her the first Presidential interview to a female reporter! It's surprising that he was the first known skinny-dipper, and not some he-man like Andrew Jackson. But JQA was elected first.

Now that's being resourceful in getting an interview!

I can also mention that he was the first President to be photographed.

But suppose there were tabloids in that time frame; would Anne Royall have stayed in order to get the real deal? Can you imagine the teaser headline on the first page? 

"How does Quincy measure up? Details below!"

She could have at least led with: "Qunicy: Boxers or briefs?"

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Bonfires on Christmas Eve

In St. James Parish, just upriver from New Orleans, they have a tradition of lighting bonfires along the levee for Papa Nöel. These are large teepees of firewood, and make for a spectacular sight. You can see these at Lutcher and Gramercy. 

Merry Christmas! -- Joyeux Noël! -- Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mental Hygiene Film: What to Do on a Date

In a bygone era, once teens started dating, there was the universal question "What to do?" As part of the Zeitgeist of that era, training movies to be shown in schools instructed teens on what to do on a date. Here's a 1950's vintage Mental Hygiene film on "What to Do on a Date." See how a clueless, somewhat shy guy learns how to do it: 

These mental hygiene films were made in a different time, in which different dating practices took place. This film, unfortunately, has Jason and the Bots making cheap wisecracks added to it that were added to be annoying. Still, if you ignore them, you can get the oh-so-serious didactic approach to this early training film. I wonder how well these films were received. My guess is that they were with relief, as they substituted for an ordinary class.

By way of contrast, here are 100 ideas suggested by for young adults by Cosmopolitan magazine. The bed and breakfast date idea seems over the top, particularly for a first date! 

Monday, December 19, 2016

A New Charismatic Species Debuts

All God's creatures aren't equally loved and lovely. Some make few hit parades, while a blessed few star on nature catalogs and requests for donations. Likewise, which ones get made into children's stuffed animals?

What is less known is that some species get overused in conservation campaigns. After all, impressive ones like grizzly bears (even though their scientific name is ursus horribilis), kingfishers, robins, and pronghorn antelopes get overused and lose their impact. Therefore, ad campaigns need to find new charismatic species to stimulate interest and possible contributions. Now, they should be impressive, cute, and have an environmental impact.

Dung beetles and maggots may be with environmental impacts; but no one is going to be moved to contribute money to help save the dung beetles. Well, maybe politicians who recognize a kindred spirit. 

Revis Wainwright, a ad man for Cookem, Eatem, Burton, and Wank, was assigned to develop a campaign advertisement for a nature group. He decided to forego the usual overused creatures, and develop a new charismatic animal for a fund-raising campaign. He found a likely new one:

The nutria!

Furthermore, his campaign included lobbying for lower speed limits in Louisiana swamps to reduce the number of fatalities for this new charismatic species so prematurely terminated before their time! Now that's taking edgy to a new level!

At least he rejected rattus norwegicus!

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Dirt Road Sports Get Carded in a Bootleg Joint

Despite their best intentions, Bubba and Billy Bob got jobs in a nearby dry county. Seasonal work for these shiftless characters. However, after an exhausting day, they felt in need of a few cold brews. But how to find them in a dry county? Well, they used a little reconnoitering skills learned from their National Guard training to look for a bootlegger.

Now the usual way to go about this is to look for an unusual number of cars or pickups, or look for large numbers of tire tracks. If it ain't a church or convenience store, that means that something hinky is going on there, be it a dog fight or a bootlegger or a undercover strip show or a seller of hot goods that fell off of a truck. Some guys just have a nose for such things, so to speak!

Well, the boys were wearing work clothes; and darn it, they looked respectful!

So much so that the old lady who was running the suspicious joint that they thought was running a bootleg joint asked to see their driver's licenses! Now that's a turnabout; getting asked for I.D. before they could enter a bootlegger's establishment! Like it was a respectable place and she wanted proof of age! 

Well, Billy Bob's mind was trashed; he was quite a few years older than 21 and hadn't been asked for an I.D. in years when it was an issue! But Bubba showed his, and gained admission. The old lady just wanted to make sure he wasn't a local deputy acting undercover. The North Carolina driver's license sort of did that. So Billy Bob showed his. Having proved they were from out of state and not deputies gone undercover, the boys were admitted. 

[A long time ago, bootleg joints were sometimes called blind tigers.]

Friday, December 9, 2016

Hipster Corsages for Homecoming

Yes, the dreaded hipster style as slowly migrated into the land of sunshine and southern belles! How can this be possible? Well, styles change, even in Dixie!

Now let me explain! There are just some events that call for looking your best; even it it can be construed as a surrendering to bourgeois taste. No, I'm not referring to the practicality of wearing a suit to a job interview or a uniform if you are a fast food worker.

This is totally serious! Something is just done in the Deep South. You must dress up for the Homecoming football game. Now this is a mandatory dress occasion, kind of like going to Maw-Maw's for Sunday dinner or appearing in Court. (Southern judges have been known to charge déclassé jurors or attorneys with contempt of court for sartorial misdemeanors.)

Here's a tip for hipster guys: if you take a date to the Homecoming game in the South, she will dress up and expect you to give her a corsage! Even if she wears dress-up hipster clothing! To fail to bestow one is to disrespect her. She will be in a testy mood; and guess what? No lovin' for you later on, Bubba!

Fortunately, some helpful florists in key Southern cities also include a line of hipster Homecoming corsages; for example, in Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, Knoxville, Athens, and Oxford. Hipster corsages run a complete gamut of stylistic embellishments: in addition to the mandatory chrysanthemum, tiny black pansies or hellebores or maybe a black dahlia instead. Naturally, the institutional colors must also be incorporated as well. The arrangement would logically call for purple and gold for L.S.U.'s Homecoming. Don't come a calling without one! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Where Dixie Came From

There are conflicting stories about how the South came to be known as Dixie. Some say that it was thus named after The Mason and Dixon survey of the Maryland-Pennsylvania boundary. Why wasn't it called Masie, instead? Well podners, that ain't right. Here's the real deal:

In the early days of the 19th century, when the flatboat and keelboat men from the Midwest states and Kentucky tiresomely poled their ways down the Mississippi, they were looking forward to the end of the trip and getting paid. )Think of Mike Fink, the King of the River.) Now typically these keelboat men were paid is locally-issued banknotes with the French word "dix" on  for "ten" on them. Now the keelboat men, not pronouncing the French word dix properly with a silent "x", referred to New Orleans as the land of the Dixies.  Gradually, the scope of Dixie spread until it included the entire South. It could have been worse: if the keelboatmen pronounced dix right, we might have wound up with 'Dee-hee."

And that's why there is Dixie Beer! Drink a bottle in honor of the tired, French-challenged keelboat men!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Bowling for Dollars

In days of auld, when coaches were bold, players wore leather helmets, and sportswriters were very particular, there were originally four bowl games: The Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Cotton Bowl. 

Others were added over time, such as the Gator Bowl, the Liberty Bowl, the Tangerine Bowl, and others. As a matter of fact, the number of postseason games exceeded 40 with no end in sight. Corporate sponsors added their names to certain bowls, and even American football took on a very American trait: commercialization. No surprise: many bowls had, quite frankly, justifications in terms of increasing the economic health of the communities where the bowls were played. Hence, the All State Sugar Bowl, the Capital One Orange Bowl, and others. Originally, these extra bowls were in at least passably warm cities, but this soon changed.

While purists might object to this, no one takes too seriously the notion that it doesn't really add to a team's reputation whether they won the Chick fil-A Peach Bowl or the Music City Bowl or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, or not. Have you ever driven into a town that proclaims on its outskirts that the local college won one of the minor bowls? But, there's the revenue enhancement for the programs!

I can see this clearly now, the rain is gone: Potash State College: Winner of the Go-Daddy Bowl 2016!

Setting myself as a possible persona non grata in Alabama, can I say that the Iron Bowl is a Faux Bowl in which the same two teams always play? Still, the winner of that game will bask in statewide glory for the next year.

A passably attractive, neat city in Ames, Iowa decided to get into the bowl business, partly to pay for its local stadium and to make money during December, Christmas shopping being insufficient. So they decided, with much fanfare, to have a bowl of their own.

Unfortunately, the major attribute of the community was that it was tidy and neat. So out of that the Tidy Bowl was born! Imagine what joy accompanied the triumphant team and university winning this elite bowl!

Or the Toilet Bowl! Wouldn't any city be proud to host the Toilet Bowl?

Still other bowl games emerged with time. Phoenix, Arizona sponsored the Metamucil Bowl, Trenton, New Jersey hosted the Superfund Site Bowl, Birmingham, Alabama adopted the Smog Bowl, and St. Paul hosted the Lutefisk Bowl. And each one had an accompanying basketball tournament as well. Proud of their states' heritage, the steering committee of the Smog Bowl had the Luv Guv toss the coin before the kickoff. It too them five minutes to find it because of the smog.