Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bottle Trees

In the South primarily; but especially in southern Mississippi there is a frequently-encountered yard decorative scheme: the bottle tree. It was the custom to put old bottles on trees or bushes for decorative purposes.  Some are quite beautiful, particularly when sun-lit.

A legend with respect to the origin of bottle trees is that originally this originated from the Congo centuries ago and were brought to the New World by slaves.

The idea behind them is that imps or mischievous spirits would be trapped in the bottles and thus the bottles served as a means to discourage these malevolent spirits. They would become trapped in the bottles. Blue cobalt glass was especially preferred; but some bottle tree decorators use different colored bottles.

Nowadays, you can buy bottles specifically made to be put on bottle trees. This regional custom has become mainstream. Somehow, this is less sporting, I guess.

Some bottle trees have the user employing whiskey or beer bottles. This can be convenient in dry counties where the Drys are plentiful, Also, law enforcement occasionally gets earnest in enforcing prohibition laws. Then, the yard artiste is well-advised to put up her or his store-bought, unlabeled ornamental bottles!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Garbage Can Gal

Mindy had one of those jobs where she was often overlooked. She was a teller at a bank. And to make it worse, she was assigned to handle the drive-through window. The work was tedious; mainly checking accounts, filing checks, and doubly counting the amounts of money to give to each customer.

Frankly, it bothered her that no one really noticed her. She decided to change her game through a walk on the wild side by going clubbing alone. (Not a prudent thing to do.)

But, she thought: "Suppose I get lucky, and hook up with somebody special and nice." It would be more convenient if I were to go alone. So she wore her alluring green-and-white microskirt, a halter top with a push-up bra for support, a red thong, and f-m boots.

As she was leaving her apartment, she remembered that it was time to put her garbage can by the curb and didn't want to miss getting it taken away. So, she diligently lugged the can to the curb while dressed in her daring finery.

Mindy noticed that guys from neighboring apartments were staring at her; and some even pulled out folding chairs in front of their apartments to watch her progression.

Well, discretion keeps me from the details of Mindy's night later on, but Mindy enjoyed the attention her sanitation duty provided before the evening started.

And the following week Mindy staged an encore performance with her garbage can prop. And this was for the audience already sitting in their folding chairs!

Mindy found her niche.

Down in NO for a wedding. Worrying about weather and the pumps.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Much Ado About Participation Trophies

I'm convinced that, when it comes to rearing children, everyone is ready to offer absolutist opinions. Even people who have none of their own and cannot speak from direct experience. This is an example of the dark side of the African "It takes a village to rear a child" proverb. Yes, whether the advice is wanted or needed, or not.

I guess it starts with the birthing process. People have firm opinions about what form of prepared childbirth, and where the mother-to-be should have the baby. Even people who might have had different experiences themselves.

And breast versus bottle feeding. Now here's an occasion for unbridled shaming whatever the choice. (Is it too extreme to speak of Breastfeeding Nazis? I don't know what the real deal ones or the Alt Right ones advocate regarding breastfeeding; but they have definite opinions, I'm sure.) After all, mother's milk does not come in detachable containers and a little bit of breast exposure might accidentally happen. Oh how shameful!*

Naturally, there is also arguments over when weaning is to take place; with attachment parents advocating doing it later to foster closer bonds between child and mother. Remember that Time cover?

And styles of parenting are openly discussed. Is it best to be an authoritarian, permissive, or authoritative parent and what are the consequences of each of the possible strategies? (For the record, authoritative parenting yields better outcomes, over all.)

To heavily schedule and arrange the child's life or not? Some are described as "helicopter parents." Others, usually in safer places, allow their children to be free-ranging. And there's a lot of argument over this too.

However, the latest thing that people are now getting their knickers in a twist over are  participation trophies. See also this from the sainted NYT.  Yes, those little trophies or medals or certificates that team coaches and/or parents bestow on participants at the end of the sport in question's season are the cause of worries and even conniption fits! Yes, even losing teams get trophies, not just the over all champions! This is plumb un-American! How dare they!

Good Lord! Imagine the scandal from giving trophies to a soccer team of seven- or eight-year-old boys and girls who won only four of ten games! Is this rewarding mediocrity?

Lighten up, people!

Remember that it was these same kids who showed up for practice, in most cases learned new skills, and may not have been 100% eager for the entire process while it was going on. (Adults have a penchant for thinking that children necessarily think the same way they do.) 

In short, why not take the time to make them feel good about themselves? Do we have to resolve everything in terms of being the best or world champions?** Jeesh! Is our goal to make children feel like losers? Some of the critics seem to think so, if they thought it through. 

Also remember that grown-ups are inclined to award themselves participation certificates, trophies, or decals certifying that they did something. Like this one***:

*A little note - I remember when a bitchy neighbor criticized us preschool girls for playing at breastfeeding our dollies! 

**Last year both the Cubs and the Indians were champions, though only the Cubs won the World Series.

***No criticism here. Anyone who can get it through a 26.2 Marathon deserves a pat on the back!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Fifolet

The fifolet (fee-foh-lay) is rarely encountered in Louisiana. It refers to what people elsewhere call swamp gas or will-o'-the-wisp. Typically, it is seen as a eerie light blue or white light. There are a number of local legends about fifolets. One common legend is that Jean Lafitte, the notorious pirate, had buried chests in the swamp here and there. With each deposited chest, the pirates shot one of the diggers and buried him along with it. The superstitious purpose for doing that was so the slain pirate would guard the booty from intrusion in the future.

Seeing a fifolet is something to wonder about. Some react by fear; not wanting to run afoul of the alleged pirate spirit that lingers around the supposed burial site. But there are the daring, greedy others. And there are some who just like to see what it's all about.

Marie and Etienne were a pair of teens out having a private moment with each other in a car on a back road in a swamp when they saw a fifolet in the distance. Marie, having gotten curious, said, "Let's go and take a closer look." She left the car and started walking toward the swamp gas blue-and-white light.

Etienne followed, looking for an adventure and wondering about the pirates' gold. Etienne and Marie followed the moving light until it stopped above a slight rise in the swamp. They brazenly approached the spot, and started to dig with their hands. The marshy soil was quite easy to dig in at first.

They had dug only a foot or so when they hit what was apparently the top of a wooden chest. However, the earth began to take on a quicksand mushiness. And Etienne was sucked into the sand and had a hard time with it.

Marie got out and screamed! Etienne had further difficulty and through his struggles seemed to get deeper in the quicksand. Marie said, "Etienne, pray with me. It's our only hope!" So they did. Whoo-eee! A real scare!

Finally, Etienne was able to struggle out of the sand.

A week after their scare, they returned to the same place. They saw no quicksand nor a hole. 

Years later Marie and Etienne married others. And neither told family or friends about their scary misadventure together. They might ask too many questions. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Odd Street Signs

Any community of any size has the problem or delight of differentiating streets. Some cities go with some ordained plan, like naming streets after states or trees. Some favor historical personages; though lately some of those might require revision. Street names can occasionally yield some surprises. I immediately wondered what the people who named these streets was thinking of at the time. Here are some of my humble suppositions, my friends:

Named by a disrespectful nephew:

Frequently misspelled:

Guys just like to dance here:

A sign often stolen; I wonder why:

One wonders about Katie's:

Why do I think of Superman's girl friend?:

A pleasant surprise for newlyweds:

From the slaughter on Tenth Avenue:

Not a prime real estate market:

Hopefully, delightful surprises, not revelations from the ongoing story of Donald Trump:

This is in Knoxville:

In the neighborhood of Wall Street:

Dysfunction Junction, where things are royally screwed up:

Perhaps named by a Burger King fan:

Frat Row at the University is on this road:

Located in the boondocks:

Mr. Merlot lives here:

Not as separate as one might wish:

Does it whistle "Dixie?":

Can't trust the residents here:

Some people obviously had a good time with naming these streets.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cultural Appropriation in Food Choice and in Other Things

The term "cultural appropriation" has come into vogue lately; and with anything current, it is subject to lampooning.  This is helped by the outrageousness of people who claim this is taking place, willy-nilly.

For example, recently Lena Dunham said that sushi served at Oberlin College in Ohio is 'cultural appropriation.' Apparently, if prepared and served to Caucasians by Caucasians, this constitutes this sin of 'cultural appropriation.' Oh my God! Does this mean that we shouldn't dare to cook ethnic foods from other cultures? Does my making Swedish meatballs commit this social sin? And what about Italian cuisine? How about tacos? Italian cuisine can cover a broad range of table offerings; some remote from Florence, Rome, or Naples.

And, hey, what about Cajun foods?  Recently, I encountered on-line a Midwestern jambalaya example of that versatile Cajun dish, jambalaya. While I would prefer a different recipe, any jambalaya does involve the use of whatever ingredients are available, including leftover meats. Not everyone has easy access to andouille or French garlic sausage; but there should not be any impediment to enjoy it.

Here's another version: Midwestern Jambalaya.

But Richard and Rima Collin feature several Platonic ideals of jambalaya.

Anyway, if you want jambalaya, these recipes are among some you might try. And, from this Cajun's view, you're not culturally appropriating my culture. Enjoy!

I wonder if it is snotty, not to mention, impractical, to consider preparing or dining on ethnic foods to be a form of 'cultural appropriation.' No, dudes and dudettes; it's cultural appreciation. Get a life and a brain, pompous ass elitists!

Still, the concept of 'cultural appropriation' is not without merit too. For example, several years ago, Victoria Secret model Karlie Kloss appeared on the runway while wearing an Indian headdress and other accessories.  I can see that Native Americans would not be happy at this, seemingly adapting a ceremonial headdress into a fashion show gimmick. (I think it was over the top, too, and offensive.*) And what about sports teams? What about the Washington Redskins?

For that matter, what about the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns or the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish? There's nary a criticism about these team nickname choices.**

Karlie Kloss and Indian headdress
*I would also criticize her wearing a Masonic apron.

**Probably the worst team nickname there ever was for Pekin (Ill.) High School Chinks! What were those people thinking? Bad kitty!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wanda, the Swamp Witch

The Bayou Teche environs has its own set of perils; and one of them is Wanda, the Swamp Witch.

This free spirit lives along the bayou away from the settlements by choice. This is so she can pursue her nefarious doings with impunity, including shape-shifting. Actually, she is a good business woman despite her failure to advertise in The Daily Advertiser. Although she is not based in a shop in a mall, she is only a short trip down the bayou by pirogue, and people with special needs seem to find a way.

Special needs to buy gris-gris or hexes, that is. Wanda is the local witchcraft service provider and people know where she is and some find occasion to make arrangements. Who knows what dark motives reside in the hearts of men and women . . . . . Wanda knows! And she services those needs!

Once a group of UL - Lafayette alumni desired to insure that UL - Lafayette would be sure to win over University of Southern Mississippi. They sent their most expendable member down the bayou to deal with the swamp witch. She worked a hex on the Mississippi team but demanded in return that she would be supplied with a year's supply of boudin* and that the entire group should take a vow of celibacy for a year.

When the negotiator returned with the demand, they were shocked. But they gave in and kept their vows and sent the boudin. You don't mess with swamp witches; it's bad karma! And, yes, they got their victory! And relieved wives and angry mistresses, in some cases.

Wanda also sells charms to keep husbands and dogs from straying. Of course, pieces of boudin or hush puppies also help!

Shrimpers routinely drop in on swamp witches to get information as to where to cast their nets, and horse race fans from Lafayette Downs inquire of them regarding racing outcomes. The Bayou Teche Swamp Witch does it conservatively; she's inclined to counsel buying show or even place tickets. But she can pick Daily Doubles or Trifectas.

But there's something that swamp witches can't do very well; and that's affect political races. Last year, Wanda predicted that Hillary Clinton would be elected President. We all know how well that turned out. Yet, the Democrats captured the Governorship in Louisiana. 

Wanda put it well: "Politics is the true Bitch Goddess, not Success." It's always good to remember that.

Wanda dressed for the heat of the bayou.

*A type of sausage

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"What a Woman in Love Won't Do" - Country Music Surprise

This song by a country singer named Sandy Posey had an unexpected twist in the lyrics by John D. Loudermilk. Sometime back in the 1970's country music departed from its rural roots and took on more real to life themes. This singer started her career with a "poor is me" song entitled "Born a Woman" exhuding incredible bathos and apparently got more philosophic about it all. There are, after all, many ways to cope when you want to.

I hope you enjoy this departure from my usual japes, humor, and commentary.  Please leave some comments, if you please!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Missy's Big College Date

When young Missy Chauvin was a j-student at L.S.U., she caught the eye of a president one of the fraternities, who expressed interest in going out with her. His name was Wilfred; and he was from a posh old uptown New Orleans family.

Naively, she accepted. And she breathlessly wondered what thrills or surprises it would bring.

Came the grand moment. Her college leader showed up, wearing jeans and a frat shirt. Purple and gold, naturally! And smelling slightly fragrant. Oh well, this would allow her to be seen more visibly.

But the bigger surprise was that the campus leader showed up with one of the pledges also! Yes, a wee little guy who came along and said nothing.

Little guy was not introduced, but remained quietly on the side. He was apparently along to drive, fetch, and carry; or maybe to learn some pointers on how a member of the fraternity should act.

Anyway, Frat President took her (and little unassuming pledge) to a club. Missy was not quite twenty at the time; and she envisioned herself winding up in the East Baton Rouge Parish jail and making desperate calls to her parents. But, no, campus big shots and athletes are exempt from the worries and rules that are inflicted on the common herd of university students!

Wilfred tried to get her loopy; but Missy set her limit at two drinks. And they were stiffer than she was used to. Missy wondered if he had slipped her a roofie. Then he popped the money question: "How 'bout you and I go to your place 'n screw?"

"No thanks. I'm not ready for doing that."

"Okay.  Then, would ja wanna go do a line or two; or perhaps smoke some joints?"

"No, thank you, Wilfred."

By now if you're thinking that she was scoring a goose egg with Wilfred, you're absolutely right. And you know something? Missy just plain did not care what the jerk thought! 

Wilfred was thinking, "This is one tight chick." And he took her back embarrassingly early (8:30 P.M.) and settled for a perfunctory peck on her cheek. A consolation prize for an unsatisfying evening for both.

And as the guys were leaving, suddenly Missy ran and caught up with the little pledge to gave him a soul kiss and a pelvic grind for him to remember! Maybe those two drinks did loosen her inhibitions! Missy had realized that the little pledge went along to be a live witness of the older frat boy's prowess with the ladies and she wanted to give him something to remember her by!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Coffin Calendar for Undertakers

Every year, about this time, art calendars are sold as wall decorations as well as means for discerning dates. Several conservation organizations such as the National Audubon Society offer for sale beautiful ones so that it's likely to make logging in appointments or seeing what day of the week Halloween falls on more enjoyable.

For a different twist for people who are searching for that breathtakingly amazing calendar, here's one that definitely is out of the ordinary. The Lindner Company, a Polish manufacturer of coffins, offers each year a calendar featuring scantily-clad models posing on or beside their wares! I've included an image below to give a sample of one from an earlier year; some of them are definitely NSFW or for impressionable children.

This one might be a great stocking-stuffer for Goth guys, too!

Anyway, if you wonder how far the art calendar market will go, this might give you an idea!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Tee Boudreaux Is in Love

The pretty young schoolteacher was concerned about one of her eleven-year-old students, "Tee" Boudreaux. Taking him aside after class one day, she asked, " 'Tee' Boudreaux, why has your schoolwork been so poor lately?"

" Mais, I can't concentrate, Teacher!" replied 'Tee.' I done fell in love."

"Oh, is that so?" said the teacher, holding back an urge to smile. "And with whom?"

"Mais, wid you," he answered.

"But 'Tee'," exclaimed the secretly pleased young lady, "don't you see how silly that is? It's true that I would like a husband of my own someday; but I don't want a child."

"Oh, don't worry, Teacher" said 'Tee* Boudreaux reassuringly, "I'll be careful."

*Dat's Cajun for "little" (p'tit).

Friday, August 4, 2017

Half-Off Admission for Wearing a Mini-Skirt

The Guilin Merryland Amusement Park in Guilin, Peoples' Republic of China found a way to increase interest and attendance: It featured a 'Happy Summer Loves Miniskirts' promotion in which women who were over 18 years could get half off admission (55 RMB) if their skirt is shorter than 38 cm. (They measure them.) On July 21 and 22, admission for miniskirt wearers was further lowered to only 10 RMB! This greatly increased attendance!

This marketing strategy was not without critics who describing it "a vulgar publicity stunt without any meaning, and an unhealthy low-class event." Ouch!

Apparently, a lot of the possible attendees did not feel it was vulgar and low-class!

This is an example of an effective psychological ploy to increase interest and admission sales. I have not been able to determine whether the boost in attendance was sufficient to cover the difference between the discounted admissions and the normal ones, but it is something to wonder about.

Business Insider also reported that some entrepreneurs set up booths near the amusement park to sell inexpensive miniskirts for the wearers to qualify for the sharply reduced admission!

Also, did the Happy Summer Loves Miniskirts promotion also increase admissions on the part of males? Probably.

I wonder what would happen if some amusement park in the USA were to try a similar promotion. Would this produce widespread protests? We are, in general, a dour lot. And China is far from the era of Chairman Mao.

And I confess that, in my case, the sharply lower admission charge might affect my choice of dress and when to attend too. Old fashioned Acadian frugality, you know! Or maybe desensitization due to our custom of Mardi Gras.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Who Should Start a Kiss?

When it comes time to kiss, which gender is more likely to take the initiative? An article in The Guardian provided the tantalizing detail that men initiate a kiss about 79 per cent of the time; and that when they do kissers tend to prefer to lean to the right! The latter seems to something that humans might be hard-wired to do.

The researchers of this osculatory activity used cross-cultural data from Britain and Bangladesh and in both places it was the guys who were more likely to start the process.

The age-old nature-nuture question can rear its dreary head even when it comes do matters like this*: Do guys take the lead because they're more motivated to start the process which they anticipate to lead to further mutual pleasure (and get the prelims over with as soon as they can); or do cultural restraints dictate who can do what, when, and to whom?

A further question might also be: who initiates going to second or third base?

Anyway, a little story. Back when I was in high school, I was in a girls' discussion regarding kissing, (Yes, nice Catholic girls do think and mostly talk about such matters at times.) I commented that once I wanted to be kissed, so I just up and kissed Dee-Doh to help him make up his mind.

Suddenly, a silence fell. I didn't think that my revelation was particularly shocking, and they knew I was his tee copine.

But then one of them asked, "You kissed him?" Some of the discussers feigned or evinced shock!

I did not know that girls shouldn't take the lead. Like on a number of other points, I didn't get that memo. I guess I'm a bit fast!

My admission and the reaction to it had the impact of a dead rat being ceremoniously deposited on the coffee table. I did not know I transgressed a norm. But I've done things like that enough not to be surprised.

While others in the group lovingly described being kissed in glowing terms, in their cases they were the kissee, not the kisser! Apparently I had crossed a line by starting the process. A line that I felt free to cross again if males were slow. The fact that I injected myself into the initiator role was what shocked them! Immediately, one asked if I gave him a soul kiss! I did not answer. That question was rude and intrusive!

But I ask you: If you want to be kissed, why not encourage shy guys along? It's not like playing below the belt line!

*A constant question in psychology. Often a combination of both is in play.