Sunday, July 23, 2017

New Scope for the Cheerleaders

The Parish School Board officials decided that, in order to justify to the broader and diverse student body and community of Bayou Teche High School, the cheerleaders and cheer squad should support other student and community activities as well. While their presence at football and basketball games was laudable, certain factions of the faculty felt that they should support women's sports and non-sport extracurricular activities. 

Fair enough. The Cheer Boosters contributed mucho dinero to the basketball and football athletic programs, and the school wanted this largess spread to other areas.  Besides, they got enough additional uniforms since Rosie's House of Burlesque and Tanning Parlor donated new uniforms to enhance their halftime performances. In effect, they had an A Cheer Team and a B Cheer Team.

Well, they were a bit more stylish than the ones donated by Bordeaux's Garage and Tire Service!

First, the cheerleaders performed before the School Board meeting, just to boost school spirit as the Board debated dress codes and budget overruns. In a way, it was harder for the school board members voting for stricter dress codes after seeing the bare midriffs of the cheerleaders. The student body saw this as a good sign.

Except for one: the Methodist minister. He did not appreciate being called upon to be a navel inspector, as he was never particularly nautical or naughty.

Girls' volleyball fully enjoyed having cheerleaders at their games; as did girls' softball.

But, by dividing the squad into smaller components, some cheerleaders appeared to cheer the debate team on their debates with other schools.

"Make that argument!" "His reasoning is wrong!" "She has a big butt!" "That's all right team, fight! Fight!

But cheerleaders at matches for the chess club definitely put things in the weird zone! They sometimes spontaneously broke out in cheers. Somehow, Shouting out in unison "king him" or "that's all right team, fight! fight!" was not applicable for that sedentary sport!







Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Semantics of Cuisine: The Case of Chili

Semantics, the study of meaning and understanding of words, is worth studying for a variety of ways. Among other things, it helps promote communication. 

Most of us would have some dissatisfaction with the Humpty-Dumpty Theory of Words, as illustrated by this quotation:


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master-that's all."

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.

"They've a temper some of them- particularly verbs: they're the proudest- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs- however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

You can definitely not look to me as a semantics adept. See Bilbo for that role. However, I recently encountered a real-life semantics issue when I went to lunch in an unfamiliar restaurant and ordered chili. Perusing the menu, I encountered unfamiliar terms such as "three way" and "five way."

Having committed, I tried this new way of serving chili. I'm not a foodie absolutist; growing up in New Orleans allows one to encounter several different ways of doing things. And, I might chauvinistically add, you might encounter good food even in unexpected places, like school or hospital cafeterias.

Okay, it was a runny meat sauce, served on spaghetti! It apparently had a strong ketchup and Worcester sauce-like flavor, and possibly with cumin and even chocolate notes. Whatever be the sins of this meat sauce, it seemed to be entirely venial when it came to chili powder. Much less actual chiles!*

In short, I had encountered Cincinnati chili! This fare is apparently popular there in the Midwest in cafés on beaneries.

I did not find my experience to be edifying; though I strongly believe in everyone following their own preferences. I suggest, however, that this concoction be referred to as "Cincinnati chili" or even "Cincinnati meat sauce." The term "chili" should be reserved for the chili recipes from New Mexico or Texas.

Except for choices of condiments on hot dogs. I side with Dirty Harry on this issue:


*I like the New Mexican practice of referring to the peppers themselves as "chiles" while the Tex-Mex food is called"chili."


Monday, July 17, 2017

A Divine Comedy

As a little change of pace, let me recommend an offbeat, funny, and totally risqué movie: The Little Hours. 

There's a lot to love in it: lubricious and abusive nuns, randy peasants, witches, a tender ass, a drunken priest, and strange doings set in Medieval times.  

Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, and others appear in this romp movie that is likely to be unlike anything else you're likely to see this summer. Don't miss this one! You might need to look for it, as it does not fit into the general mold of the Summer Blockbuster and may not be in theatres catering to the usual mall theatre fare.

Furthermore, the storyline comes from one of the tales of The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375). Boccaccio was one racy writer who is a guilty pleasure to read!



Friday, July 14, 2017

Guindon Cartoons

Richard Guindon was a Midwestern cartoonist noted for his quirky cartoons.  I find his cartoons to be a humor delight.  He needs to be honored more as an original of American cartoonists.






An underrated cartoonist from an earlier time.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Playing at Being Cajun

One surprise in traveling to farther parts of the United States is encountering the wild stereotypes people there have about Cajuns and the Acadian Parishes, much less New Orleans. This came across in Alaska around a campfire, where I encountered those remarkable rara aves, a multiaged group of people who spontaneously conversed with strangers. It started innocently enough; having to do with the pronunciation of my name.

"What kind of name is that?"

"Acadian French."

"Ohh! A coonass!* Have you ever paddled one of those long, narrow canoes?"

"A pirogue?"

"Yes, if that's what you people call them."

"Do you have alligators back home?" 

"Uh, yes. We do. And pelicans, muskrats, and nutria also."

"Do you wear shoes back home?" 

"Does your family speak real English or just French?" [Actually, I do best with New Orleans English and a Louisiana dialect of French.]

Now here is where the role of imparting real factual information often takes second place to the Cajun trickster or raconteuse that so easily comes out at this time. And the usual spoken English gradually morphs into a pronounced, exaggerated dialect. These and those becomes dese and doses. Dat's rite! That sounds exotic in places where people say "You betcha!" or drink soda.

"Did ya ever eat alligator?"

"Why no. Dat wouldn't be right. We have a pet gator, Albie, and we wouldn't feel right in eating our beloved pet or his kin. Gators got feelins' too."

And somewhere along in the tale I spun managed to go to school by pirogue instead of riding a city bus. And became barefooted instead of wearing shoes to school with the school color-coded Catholic school uniform. (In our case, brown skirts with white blouses.)

"Whooo-eeee! Swamp girl goes get some educatin'" !

And I need to mention that we drink local beers: Abita, Dixie, and whatever the store sells cut rate. And all of us, hommes and filles alike are handy with a knife. And a fork and spoon, too!

And if I'm really expansive (or full of shit!), I tell of loup-garous, lost Acadian maids and their lovers, Yankee soldiers that got lost while invading the bayous,  moonshiners, swamp monsters, and tomfool politicians who promised too much. And stories of wild parties during hurricanes also can also be told! Apocrypha is never out of style!

My rationale is that, if there is to be a choice between the everyday reality and the exotic, people would rather hear the exotic every time. Especially around campfires.

Yes, it helps to be able to keep a straight face while being a Cajun raconteuse! Anyway, the drama queen in me likes †o be seen as some untamed exotic!





*Using that term in Southern Louisiana does not help to win friends and influence people there, my friens.' Fo' true!.



Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cowgirl Melinda and the Running of the Bulls

Cowgirl Melinda, normally a lass of even temperament and slow to criticize, could make some exceptions at times. She did have a minimal fashion sense, as she commented on why she would not wear jodhpurs while in Captain Randy's Tame Eastern Show. She was neutral during the 2016 election; considering it a serious mess no matter how se looked at it. 

But there is one thing that totally and reliably stuck in her craw. That is that ostensibly sane individuals would go to torrid northwestern Spain in mid-summer, for gosh sake!  And let themselves be chased by bulls! For God's sake: those damned things have horns and they don't blow 'em!

She was, of course, referring to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona!

Now let's get the flavor of Melinda's thoughts on this:

"Hopping Horehound Cough Drops, buckaroos! You mean there are people so screwed up that they would willingly go to a place where pissed-off bulls get to run down the street and be chased by them? No, these dudes were not sentenced by some barbaric court to be chased and possibly maimed by these raging cattle; they did it on purpose! One even got gored in his gut and another in his scrotum for being on the unlucky end of one of these terrible testy toros!"

"I blame it all on a 1920's hack writer, Hemingway, a Midwesterner who wrote some other Required Reading that we subject high school kids to and tell them it could be worse: It could be Jude the Really Obscure or Great Expectorations!*

And listening to Cowgirl Melinda, this makes a lot of sense. Who in his or her right mind would get in the way of angry bulls? 




*The real deal books were bo-ring! - A.M.B.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Close the -Gate, Already!

Watergate, which happened sometime in the B. A. (before Angélique) era has spawned the ubiquitous -"gate" suffix as a shorthand to render anything attached to it as scandalous, like Nipplegate or Deflategate

Gee, in the Pretrumpian Era, was there such a stability and orderliness that the Watergate scandal forever shattered that cognitive stability regarding government? Or has the English language become so ossified that we reflexively fall on a few hackneyed terms (or suffixes, in this case) to encapsulate an idea?




The latest thrill ride to evoke the -gate suffix is beachgate now.  Apparently beaches in Jersey were closed due to inadequate funding; but guess who managed to appear like a beached whale on Jersey Shore? No, it wasn't Snooki. Yes, the Tub Guv* in all his splendor. 

I move that '-gate' be included among the List of Banned Words that Lake Superior State University comes out with for 2018. 

*Not to be mistaken for Alabama's former Luv Guv, Robert Bentley.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Golden Dog

There's an enigmatic decoration on a large building in Quebec City: a golden dog chewing on a bone. By itself, it would be a charming and eccentric ornament to a building; but the inscription with it evokes a disquieting note:

     "Je suis un chien qui ronge l'os,
      En le rongeant je prends mon repose.

     Un temps viendra qui n'est pas venu

      Que je mordrai qui m'aura mordu."

                   1736.
Or in English:
     "I am a dog that gnaws his bone,
    I rest and gnaw it all alone--

     A time will come, which is not yet,

      When I'll bite him by whom I'm bit."



An unusual, cryptic ornament to a building.

However, there is a story behind it.  In the 18th century, it was a private residence of a wealthy merchant Nicholas Philibert. He had a dispute with Bigot, the representative of the Grand Company which had a monopoly on the territory.  Philibert was very popular because most of the colonists felt exploited by the Grand Company and especially Bigot. M. Philibert was an annoyance to the Grand Company who dealt fairly with the colonists.

If this story was true, then the inscription was nothing less than an implied threat.

Here is a credible, detailed recount about possible stories behind the golden dog.

Still, the golden dog is cute.