Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Sometimes Go Off on Tangents

Conversation from the last day of class for a Prophets and Prophecy Course...

Me: It's a scientific fact that African Americans are more likely to spill drinks than white people. That's why you can't have drinks in the classroom here at Xavier, but at schools like Tulane and UNO it is OK. White people have millions of years of evolution where their Caucasian monkey ancestors held demitasse cups with their pinkies out and their white monkey hands steady.

Student: I think we should get to do whatever we want in this classroom. We're paying for it.

Me: If I can teach you one thing, it's that you can never do what you want, even with lots and lots of money. Take Senator Vitter for example. Even when he was dropping thousands of dollars at the Canal Street Brothel and the DC Mayflower hotel, there were still rules. Sure money got him over the diaper hurdle to feed his fetish, but there were still things that the prostitutes wouldn't let David Vitter do.

Student: Like have drinks in the room?

Me: Exactly! That red shag carpet is expensive, and stains at a whore house, well that's just tacky and bad for business.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

An OLD Clock Radio

The first thing I do when I wake up is roll over to my right and turn on NPR. I'm a fan of morning edition and weekend edition. But if it's the puzzle master Will Shortz I turn it off for a few minutes, and then turn it back on. I don't care for Will Shortz, mostly because his guest callers are ignorant and the silence after questions is so damn painful. But this morning the trusted clock radio wasn't working well. I told this to my wife Therese and she said "Well, the radio was a wedding gift." This apparently means that electronics are not expected to last as long as my marriage, which took place in 1991 for those still counting.

Friday, April 25, 2008

First Impressions

Get out your red pens. Here are the opening sentences for the last three papers I've graded for a course entitled Religions of the ancient Near East:

1. "Within every great epic story, exists a legendary hero and his/her journey to explore, seek adventure, and achieve greatness by means of overcoming struggles."
2. "In every culture, every religion, there are central characters that embodies the beliefs of it's people and reinforces the rituals and culture set forth."
3. "Zawi Hawass seems as obnoxious and petulant as the man who hawks OxiClean on late night commercials."

Number 3 wins.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Are You There God? It's Me, Rex

The King of Carnival, the Monarch of Merriment, Rex, is stranded on a remote Pacific Island known as Palmyra Atoll. New Orleanians are freaking out. Nobody has seen Comus for two days, but with the Boeuf Gras float missing and an a case of empty champagne bottles at the Algiers Ferry dock, it's obvious what happened. And then Mickey Easterling purchased 200 pairs of clean white tights, but the Shrimp Arnaud she sent along stained them. Word is Rex had to go all Gilligan's Island and make a crown out of a Zulu coconut and a scepter out of a page's femur bone. He's gone three days without a makeup change, and he even briefly caught on fire after a Flambeaux dropped the last of his crack cocaine in Rex's cape. So God, please take care of our Rex. He's so helpless, and so afraid, and New Orleans needs him. Please God, please......

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

McCain's Minstrel Show

Today hundreds of secret service agents are snooping around the Xavier campus, looking under benches through their mirrored sunglasses, talking in their microphoned lapels, and just standing with arms crossed looking smug. John McCain is scheduled to have a town hall meeting here tomorrow at noon. Someone on his campaign no doubt felt that pictures of McCain shaking hands with the revered president of Xavier Norman C Francis, and having large numbers of African American college students clapping after McCain talks about reform would be a good thing, especially if he is up against "not black enough" Obama. Post-Katrina New Orleans represents the failure of the U.S. government towards African Americans more than any place on earth. So on many levels, I am glad he is coming here. I wish more politicians would.

If I were going to see Senator McCain's song and dance show, which I'm not, and if given the chance, I would have walked up the microphone and said:

Senator McCain, welcome to the Xavier campus and to New Orleans. I appreciate that you are trying to reach out to demographics not likely to vote for you by coming here and by going to Memphis on the 40-year-anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, where you apologized for your opposition to making Martin Luther King Jr Day a national holiday, and 8 years earlier, when you apologized for saying that you saw the Confederate Flag as a symbol of heritage rather than a symbol of hate. But if I may try to solicit another apology, or get an explanation, why did you vote against the 1990 Civil Rights Act? Don't all of these things enhance you with one of your demographics, the kind that wouldn't vote for you if you had fathered a Black baby?

Defense Pessimism

Hammhawk just diagnosed me with "defense pessimism." Before I engage in anything where the outcome is up in the air, I get depressed because I think I'm going to lose, and then if I lose it eases the pain, and if I win, I'm surprised and happy.

Today, I'm surprised and happy because the Hornets dominated the Mavericks 127-103. And at the same time, even though everyone including me predicted the outcome, I'm depressed with no easement of pain because I have to listen to Hillary brag about her Pennsylvania victory, at least until May 6th. Come on voters in Indiana and North Carolina, especially older working class Caucasians and Catholic women (Obama's least favorable demographic), I want to see Obama debate McCain.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kids, Their Abu, and Sports

Tonight Kalypso and I went to the Hornets' playoff game. We were two rows from the top, but had a great time. Over the course of the game, I explained to my 12-year-old-daughter why CP3 is at times called CP30, why he should be the league's MVP, why people ran around with giant Peja Stojakovic heads on a pole after he made 3-pointers, why Jason Kidd was a great player but had no gas in his tank, what was so cool about even attempting the alley-oop behind the head dunk even if it failed, and why Dirk Nowitzki was a great player but still sucked because we live in New Orleans.

By the way, both of my kids call me "Abu," Arabic for "father," because they were born and/or grew up in the Middle East. I'm not a fan of monikers like "daddy." I am a huge fan of most things Middle Eastern.

Someone Reading My Words

I just heard from Wiley Publishing that The Bible for Dummies is going to be made into an Audio Book. I would like to suggest that they hire Mayor Ray Nagin for the voice, but with the following caveat: stage a fake hurricane, get him all stressed out, liquored up, and medicated, and then give him the book and a phone and tell him that Garland Robinette wants him to read the book to America. Hit the recording button and you've got gold. Probably even a Grammy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Homan Outed, Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

While I was trying to find poutine in the Big Easy, Greg at Suspect Device (who incidentally has a great post today about a very sad though memorable day) Googled "Homan" and then forwarded the secret news to my nemesis Adrastos. Turns out when you Google "Homan," the first listing is Homanla, which turns out is "The Iranian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Organization, Inc." located in Los Angeles, the other LA. But I know what you're thinking, there are no gay people in Iran, Ahmadinejad told us that on the youtube:

And before Adrastos goes off on a malaka post, keep in mind that when you Google "Adrastos," the first thing that shows up is this page. Now that I've outed myself, back to poutine.

Canada Day

Today Kalypso and I are celebrating Canada Day. Why not, ehhhhh? We've got our tickets to see Rush tonight, who, by the way, are donating $100,000 from tonight's concert to help us further with Hurricane Katrina recovery. They also rescheduled to play here after getting bumped by the Hornets last night, so they easily could have cancelled instead. So thanks Geddy, Alex, and Neil. In years past I would have joked that $100,000 Canadian equals about $4.50 U.S., but they're nearly equal for the first time in my life. So in some ways, my pacifist Canadian neighbors are profiting from the hawkish U.S. foreign policy.

But it might be impossible to celebrate Canada Day properly. In New Orleans it is very difficult to find poutine. Maybe I should knock on the door of the Rush tour bus, ehhhh?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Last Chance to Sell Chametz

The sun is about to go down, and so it's almost Passover for my friends in the "Tribe." Hag Sameach and all that tov stuff.

Holy Grails and Protests

Sunday Archbishop Hughes will be celebrating mass at St. Louis Cathedral with a fancy chalice he received from the Pope. The Pope gave said holy grail to Hughes to acknowledge the challenges we've faced since Katrina. Challenges since Katrina? I wonder then if the chalice will look like this:

This of course reminds me of Belshazzar's Feast, when the Babylonians celebrated with chalices from the Temple in Jerusalem. Back then a hand wrote on the wall "Mine Mine Tekel uparsin." But this time around, the handwriting on the wall says "Not with flood, fire next time." This is because on Monday President Bush will be in the Big Easy, and we'll no doubt burn the city to the ground to protest. I don't think we'll be covered with insurance if we set the fire, so they're off the hook again.

What's Old is New Again

I've decided that battling my new and formidable nemesis Lord David the Pirate Artist has been too time consuming, especially with the semester winding down and Jazzfest on the horizons. So I had to turn down his gracious offer to join "Skull Club." I won't be mentioning him again, though I have to say one last time that I'll miss saying the skull club motto: "You tell, you die." Sigh... Life moves on, Yo.

Adrastos, you malaka, if you'll have me back, would you consider being my nemesis again? Wait, it looks like you never stopped hating me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Life Imitating Television

I'm finally getting around to watching The Wire, and it's pretty good drama. In episode 1, D'Angelo Barksdale is on trial for murder. A female security guard named Nikeisha Lyles, who previously identified Barksdale as the murderer, on the witness stand refuses to identify him and said she previously made a mistake. Shortly thereafter, William Gant, a male witness who identified D'Angelo in court, is found murdered.

Meanwhile, here in New Orleans, David Bonds was on trial for the murder of musician Dinerral Shavers. The key witness, a teenage girl, had previously identified Bonds as the killer. But on the witness stand, she claims she didn't see the killer in the courtroom. She stated "I don't see anybody. I must need glasses." Bonds was found not guilty. Finally, a young man who was in the car with Shavers when he was murdered, and who subsequently testified in the trial last week... well, he was shot and killed yesterday.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chris Owens, I'm Sorry

People who have met Chris Owens all seem to have been positively impressed by her. I would hate to be disrespecting nice people, so Chris, if you're out there reading this, I'm sorry for my previous posts. Can I come hang on your balcony for Mardi Gras?

Skull Club Meeting Minutes (4-17-2008)

Meeting called to order at 11 AM at secret Burger King on S. Carrollton.

Present: Lord David the Pirate Artist, Adrastos, Howie Luvzus, some guy we just met who calls himself Blade.
Absent (Unexcused): Chris Owens
Absent (Excused): Elizabeth Swan, Keira Knightley, Anne Bonny, Dido, that hot girl from the Matrix, Arwen the elf, and Padme Amidala.

Action Items:
Amend the Skull Club's constitution to condemn Jack Sparrow as an unauthentic pirate (brought to floor by Lord David). Amendment passed 3-0.

Condemn secret Burger King for being lame, and motion to meet next time at Chris Owens' nightclub. Lord David the Pirate Artist reminded Skull Club members that he lost his fake I.D. at the Rocky Horror Picture Show marathon in Branson Missouri. Motion defeated 0-3.

Howie Luvzus said the skull on the logo looked too depressing and asked that it be replaced with a Baptist crucifixion. Motion failed by a 2-1 vote.

Old Business
Adrastos asked for further clarification on club's motto, "You tell, you die." He asked if he could tell his wife Dr. A. Lord David said no. Howie Luvzus asked if it meant that you died emotionally or if your heart actually stopped beating. Lord David said it meant you really died. Howie renounced his membership at that point and left the secret Burger King, taking what was left of his triple whopper with cheese and ketchup-stained paper crown. Lord David yelled that Howie better not tell anyone about the skull club while making a gesture of running his finger along his throat to simulate decapitation.

Adrastos asked if Lord David the Pirate Artist really invited Arwen, or if he was just "pulling his chain." Lord David said he left a comment on an elf blog he thought was frequented by Arwen.

New Business
There was no new business. Lord David, looking at his Jack Sparrow pocket watch, said he forgot to set the timer on his mom's VCR for MST3K. Adrastos returned to his sad life of selling tiles with pictures of cats.

Meeting adjourned at 11:20 AM

"Homan is Vindicated"

DSB at Bark, Bugs, Leaves and Lizards, an objective observer of the Chris Owens feud, posts this excellent recap from the sidelines.

Here is a picture of Chris Owens that he took at Mardi Gras.

In the words of Karen who leaves the first comment, "Homan is vindicated."

Secret Chris Owens Club

I just got back from a secret Chris Owens club meeting where I met none other than Lord David the Pirate Artist. I'd tell you more, but as you know with these secret clubs, the main rule is "You tell, you die."

My New Nemesis: Lord David the Pirate Artist

People are crawling out of the Katrina mold infected woodwork to attack me for my negative observations about Chris Owens. Honestly I didn't know Chris Owens existed until a week ago. And then there she was on stage, but maybe this is all a mistake, because I swear what I saw on stage wasn't human. What I saw at the French Quarter Fest looked like a wax model of Cher from Ripleys had baked in the sun and partially melted, and then some wacky voodoo priestess brought it to life, but all it could do was bend over and shake its ass. I saw this horrible spectacle and felt that I needed to alert others. Then my former nemesis Adrastos got his gyro-smelling panties all bunched up, and then et tu Brute Luvzus fell in line like a lemming. But my favorite comes from HumidCity, but not so much the "We Love Chris Owens" post by BigezBear, but the comment from my newest latest nemesis named "Lord David the Pirate Artist." He concludes I don't like Chris Owens because I am a prude and should live in Branson Missouri. But I was mostly interested in that he signs his name as follows:
Lord David
Pirate & Artist
Skull Club
New Orleans

Check out the link to skull club. There most of the website leads you to dead links, as it is hard to design websites when you have a hook instead of fingers. But check out the About Skull Club link. It's a "secret" club of Lord David the Pirate Artist, and they meet in secret, and did I say it's SECRET? It's like Fight Club, so they have a rule that if you talk about Skull Club, you will be killed, by pirates I assume. So why then does Lord David the Pirate put skull club on the web? I've found that with all of my secret clubs, publishing them on the web hinders their secrecy. And Lord David the Pirate Artist, will I have to walk the plank for this post? That would a cool way to die, as I have always thought one day I'd be run over by a Walmart truck in cruel irony. Anyway, skull club has a merchandise link, but it doesn't work. I'm hoping they sell paintings from Lord David the Pirate Artist, though it would be difficult to paint with a hook, and all the canvases are no doubt covered with parrot shit and smell like cheap rum and wenches. Plus he's a handicapped artist. I don't mean the peg leg, I mean the eye patch, as in no depth perception.

Oh yeah, check out his myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/skullclub. Anyway, Adrastos was a weak nemesis and was holding me back. Now with Lord David the Pirate Artist at the nemesis helm, well, shiver me freakin' timbers! Stay tuned for more pieces of hate. Yarrrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Malaka Revisited

Everyone's favorite big-headed tile peddler from the Agora, the bald blogger named Adrastos, who serves as a part-time nemesis to yours truly, is at it again. He accuses my recent post, the one about Chris Owens, the many-years-old burlesque-in-public performer, of agism. In response I give you exhibit A:
Here we see a representation of Chris Owens, one that was forged out of molten bronze ore thousands of years old and worked and experimented on meticulously and often by a sculptor, and to the left we see a statue. The real question though here involves said statue. Are those maracas or Malakas? Hint: It's a trick question.

Cops & Dogs

There's a debate raging here in New Orleans about dogs and cops. Monday a police officer, responding to burglary call in the Lakeview neighborhood, shot and killed Jax, one of two Dobermans owned by Dr. Patrick Coleman. The rest of the details are murky. The police say they had to kill the dog for their safety. But the force seemed excessive, as the officer fired 8 shots, and Jax was crippled from a recent back surgery so the owner says the dog was no danger. Coleman reports that the police first stated that his other dog, the one still alive, was the one that charged the officer. What disturbs me the most about this was the attitude of the police. Dr. Coleman reported in a local interview that the police were huddled around laughing while he mourned his dog, and when he calmly asked them what they were laughing about, an officer stepped forward and said "You need to calm down." Typical cop behavior.

I've never liked cops. Some of my friends are cops, and I have met many good people who go into the police force with the intent to make the world a better place. It's just that I have personally been abused and mistreated by police entrusted by the public to protect and serve. Well, there were two times in my life in which I was excited to see police. Once Gilgamesh when he was a toddler got lost in the streets in front of our house and the police were very helpful. Then, one time my friends and I were getting severely beat up by a Lomas gang in Omaha and the police showed up. The Lomas gang ran when the cop cars arrived, leaving my three friends and I bloody and nearly unconscious in the street. We were jumped by the way, and did nothing to start that fight. Those cops ironically gave us tickets for disorderly conduct, though we did nothing but act as targets for the gang members' boots. The police didn't bother chasing the gang members.

When I was young and had long hair living in Nebraska, I used to get pulled over all the time, and twice police officers tried to start fights with me. They'd push me and say "I know you want to hit me, go ahead." Anyway, when you are 17 and see things like that, it effects you. I asked my students today, "How many of you trust the police." None of them raised their hands. That is sad and contributes to our current problem of violent crime in New Orleans. And then you read stories, like the Haitian man who had police put a plunger handle in his rectum. And locally, there are many documented cases of police officers using their power to rape, steal, and even murder. When I worked at a psychiatric hospital, after a time, I started feeling like it was us (staff) against them (patients), and I'm sure police feel this every day, akin to the Stanford Prison Experiment.

I would be mad as hell is someone shot my dogs. Dr. Coleman has filed a lawsuit against the police. I have no doubt he'll lose. While a jury in New Orleans might not trust cops, they sure as hell don't like Dobermans. People here in New Orleans tend to be very afraid of dogs. My dogs are pretty harmless, and unlike most of my neighbors who don't have dogs, we've never been robbed. Except by the insurance industry that is. Maybe I could teach my dogs to bite insurance execs.

My dogs Kochise and Mosey.

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Open Letter to Chris Owens


Dear Chris Owens,

I saw you perform at the French Quarter Festival. Please stop. It makes me want to stop being a heterosexual.

Let me elaborate so we're clear. I have nothing against old people. Heck, I'm pretty old myself. You notice in the above picture that the average age of your audience was about 85. Even so, though, all of these octogenarians have the decency to stay inside when they put on lingerie and pretend to be riding a horse. Unlike me, though, this guy, a friend of mine, was excited to see you.
I should point out though that in addition to the hurricane in his right hand, he is holding at least three empty glasses in his other. I should also point out that he is NOT a heterosexual, and he thinks you are New Orleans' version of Cher. So as a compromise maybe you could limit your performances to nightclubs at Bourbon and St. Anne?

Thanks for your time Chris, and please keep wearing lots of makeup when in public.
Michael Homan

Later note: OnMyList has a list of sexy women over the age of 50, and Chris ain't on it.

Controlling the Mississippi River

I have always been fascinated by rivers. This started when I was a boy in Nebraska, as I spent many summers on the Missouri, Platte, Loop, Cedar, and Niobrara. Since then I've swam in the Nile, Jordan, Euphrates, and the Ganges. Now that I live in New Orleans, the Mississippi River commands my attention and respect. One of the most interesting books I've read is John Barry's Rising Tide, which discusses America's attempts to control the Mississippi and the great flood of 1927. With the large amounts of rain that have fallen in the Great Plains, the Mississippi River's levels in New Orleans are the highest they've been in years. This again shows me how much the United States depends on New Orleans and the Mississippi River, in that you can transport goods from the Gulf of Mexico via water to a huge amount of the country, just as rain in Minnesota, Ohio, Arkansas, and Missouri makes it way down south to us. The recent near record levels of water prompted the Army Corp of Engineers to open the Bonnet Carre spillway, which releases water from the river into Lake Pontchartrain. I took Gilgamesh and Kalypso to see this on Saturday. It's the first time in 10 years they've opened the spillway, which was built right after the flood of 1927. Usually the spillway is swampy, full of wildlife and alligators. With the river water now pouring in and through the land, I've heard that alligators will get pushed into Lake Ponchartrain. I've also heard that many fish will die from pesticides in the river water. Be safe all you Pontchartrain manatees!
Bonnet Carre Spillway, with river water to right being released into spillway towards Lake Pontchartrain to the left.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Roller Girl Funeral

Yesterday Gilgamesh and I went to Ashley Morris' funeral to celebrate the life of this remarkable man. I've never attended a funeral where so much of the personality of the deceased came across, and when I told this to Ashley's friend Ray, Ray said "Ashley gave us a big canvas on which to draw." Ashley was buried wearing a Michael "beerman" Lewis #84 Saints Jersey, a cigar, a copy of Confederacy of Dunces, drumsticks, a mufaletta, some booze, and many other things. My favorite part was the white fleur du lis flower arrangement that had a black and gold banner with the initials "FYYFF." The eulogies went great, except when Reverand Luvzus talked about how Ashley was like the prophet Hosea who did crazy things like marry a prostitute. I couldn't believe he said that, especially because the lovely widow Hana is a Big Easy Roller Girl and the girls were there with their skates in force. That might have been the most charming thing about the funeral, seeing roller girls in skates wave their white handkerchiefs during the second line. At the funeral, Ray did a moving revision of a Kermit Ruffins lyrics paying tribute to Ashley, and Oyster quoted the following verses from Song of Songs (8:6-7):

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy [a] unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.

Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

I think most of the people in attendance, and there were many, had come to know Ashley through his blog. I think it will be the best documented funeral in the history of New Orleans, and I predict that one day some graduate student will write a dissertation on Ashley Morris. Ashley would no doubt have called that person a "fuckmook."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dooky Chase's: Food with Uplifting Love

Gilgamesh didn't have school today. Early this morning we went to see the high water level of the Mississippi River. Then Gilgamesh and I went to Xavier for my two classes, and for lunch we went to the New Orleans culinary institution Dooky Chase's, which recently reopened.
The food was fantastic. Gilgamesh had red beans and rice, I had the fried chicken.
Yesterday one of the founders of Dooky Chase's, Leah Chase, spoke at Xavier. She was amazing. Her best advice was to surround yourself with uplifting people. As she spoke it was clear that she loved people, and I think that is what makes her such a great chef. We ate there in honor of Ashley Morris, and after lunch we got on the purple scooter and drove to Ashley's funeral. It was an incredible day, and it would only have been possible in the great city of New Orleans.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ashley Morris and Academic Cornholing

I went to Rate My Professors to check out the reviews for the late great Professor Ashley Morris. My favorite said: "Nice guy when he wants to be, short temper. If looking for academic cornholing, look no further." Note to self: increase academic cornholing.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

David Noel Freedman (1922-2008)

David Noel Freedman, one of the world's most prolific and influential Bible scholars, and also my teacher at the University of California, San Diego, passed away yesterday. He was 85 years old, and he was one of the hardest working people I've ever met. I appreciate all that he taught me. Rest in peace, Professor Freedman, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Happy Day for Insurance Execs

Xavier had been suing its insurer, Travelers, claiming that the catastrophe that flooded our campus was manmade, and thus should be covered even without a flood policy. Sadly the LA Supreme Court yesterday decided with the insurance industry. We still plan to get more reimbursements from Travelers, it is just that we'll have to do in now by pointing out how grossly we were underpaid for our campus' wind damage. Thousands of families are going through the same struggle, and were all disappointed by yesterday's ruling. Attorney John Houghtaling , who represented the state of Louisiana against the insurance industry, said, "This is the end of the road here. This is a very, very sad day for anyone who isn't an insurance executive." Marc Racicot, who represents the insurance industry and whom I had the distinct displeasure of meeting when I testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about how Allstate had mistreated us, said that the decision "showed great courage." He also said that if the decision had gone otherwise it would have kept insurers out of the area and hurt our recovery. So the insurance industry had been stockpiling billions in reserves in case they had to pay these claims. Now that they won't have to, do you think anyone in the Gulf South will get a rebate or lower premiums, or will the money go to insurance execs who already have record profits? Nobody except LA Citizens is writing policies for homes that flooded, now almost 3 years after Katrina. I don't expect that to change anytime soon. So enjoy your luxury bonuses and golden parachutes, evil evil insurance executives.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Malaka, and I Don't Mean Oprah, I Mean Adrastos

Hoping to cash in on the Congo bump of readership that I'm currently enjoying, my blogging nemesis Adrastos has the nerve to make fun of my unfortunate "condition." That was uncalled for and it hurts...not as bad as the physical pain of getting pregnant by Oprah's largeness, but Adrastos' taunts hurt more on an emotion level. Adrastos and I share many things: we both have a Greek ancestry, lovely wives, a musical past, a fondness for manly drinks, my green shoes, and cannibalism. But unlike Adrastos, I will never love selling tile with pictures of cats on it to tourists from Utah where they don't drink Sazeracs, and I'll never make fun of pregnant men, unless they have a uterus like Thomas Beatie. I will also never enjoy serving nutria to guests during a Muses pre-party.
ADRASTOS THE MALAKA: notice the crappy beads and the St. Louis Cardinals' hat. Is that just a coincidence? Or maybe it was his nutria breath that put off the lovely Muses bead throwers. By the way, Malaka is a Greek word that means beating on Peter, or something like that.


Louisiana state senator Ed Murray, who represented me and others very well I thought in our struggles with the insurance industry after Katrina, wanted to pass a bill making the Sazerac the official state cocktail. Senators from New Orleans, where the Sazerac was invented to become the world's first cocktail, voted for it, but were soundly defeated by rural Louisianian senators who felt it was inappropriate to honor an alcoholic beverage. Move to Utah teetotalling wussies. These are the same people who drink until they puke while visiting Bourbon Street, then go back home and preach about the evils of firewater. So tonight I'm drinking a Sazerac, or Sazeracs, as maybe I'll get drunk and think about my friend Ashley who loved life and will be buried on Friday. I make Sazeracs with Angostura and Peychaud bitters, Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, and Lucid Absinthe. I skip the sugar and sometimes add a lemon. Will this drinking damage Oprah's baby growing in me? Yes, darnit, it certainly will. I'm not fit to be a mom.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Oprah and Me Got a Bun in My Oven

Oh my God, I just realized that I'm pregnant, and Oprah is the father. And tell that bitch Thomas Beatie that Oprah and I did it without a uterus.

Some Rambling Thoughts on a Monday

My mind is all over the place today: taxes, contractor, Xavier committee work, termites, etc. I've been listening quite a bit to Warren Zevon in memory of Ashley. It's pretty great stuff. Amazing how you can be 40 something, know more than most about music, and have missed this. I've also been thinking about racism. Jarvis DeBerry had an excellent opinion piece in the Times-Picayune on Sunday. It focused on the trial of the Razzoo's bouncers and the failure of the police in the death of Levon Jones. The best quotation is "That's one of the unfortunate consequences of the trial having been moved from Orleans Parish to Calcasieu Parish. While it may have given the defendant access to an impartial juror pool, it also forced prosecutors to contend with jurors who implicitly trust the police." DeBerry goes on to explain why we in New Orleans don't trust the police. And on another topic, please please please I want to see David Vitter testify at the prostitution trial but I know he'll take the fifth. At least he's listed as a defense witness. And then in class today, when in a discussion about prophets trying to change their ancient world, my students asked me what I thought the greatest problem facing the world today. My answer: If it isn't Oprah, she's at least related to the biggest problem. My friends in the Congo, while you may eat magical pygmies, we in American are infatuated with the pregnant man on Oprah.

Remember Ashley Morris

Please visit Remember Ashley Morris and make a donation if you are able. Ashley left behind a wife and three small children and their bills are accumulating.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Go Down Moses

Charlton Heston passed away. While I strongly disagreed with his politics, his role as Moses in the Ten Commandments (1956) is the most famous portrayal of Moses since ..., well since Moses. Being a Bible scholar, and a fan of pop culture, I've researched and written quite a bit on the topic of the Hebrew Bible in film. This means that I've seen The Ten Commandments about 300 times and sadly have the entire horrible dialogue memorized. Mostly I wrote about the topic of why all Bible movies are so awful. And I smile when I think of his other over-the-top campy films, such as Soylent Green, Planet of the Apes, and Ben Hur.


And now that his hands are cold and dead, can we have his gun?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Supertax Day at the Superdome

The seminar put on by the IRS today at the Superdome was actually very well done and I learned a few things. Our presenter was Aaron Steele, a "senior stakeholder liaison" for the IRS, and Susan Canavello, an attorney for the IRS. Most of the seminar was focused on people who sold their house. The main things that I learned that applied to my situation were:
1. It's best to file now and amend my 2005 and 2007 taxes later if and when Landrieu's amendment about not taxing rebuilding grants becomes law.
2. It isn't simple math. I took a casualty loss of $95,000 in 2005. I don't record that as income. Instead, I had to fill out a form on p. 23 of IRS publication 525 (2007). It turns out that I don't need to claim any of it. Yeah!
3. If in 2007 you discover that it cost much more to fix your house than you thought in 2005, you can claim that as a casualty loss in the year you discovered it. I didn't take these casualty losses now, as I will wait for the amended return.
4. I am in way over my head and will need to hire a tax specialist when it comes time to file the amended returns.

The Fattest Skeleton in My Closet

Yesterday, for the first time in 20 years, I had the privilege of hearing from my old girlfriend Nancy. Her life would have been much better had she never met me. When I as 19, Nancy got pregnant with my child. I freaked out, to put it mildly. I wanted Nancy to have an abortion. Nancy bravely carried the child to term, gave birth to a son she fondly called Boris, and then gave him up for adoption. His name is now Bryce, and he is in his early 20's and lives somewhere in rural Nebraska. He's alive today because Nancy loved him so much. This is all the more weird in that I myself was adopted and later had the good fortune to reconnect with my parents. Today I count my birth mother Susan as a great friend. I wonder if one day I'll ever get the chance to meet Bryce. I think I would like that very much. Nancy had always wanted to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. I was glad to hear that she was successful in this endeavor. I apologized yesterday to Nancy for the way I treated her, as she certainly deserved better. But words can't take back any of the harm I did. Actually nothing can. I'll get to see Nancy and meet her boyfriend soon, as it turns out they come to Jazzfest quite often and will be here again this year. Nancy made contact with me after these many years by leaving the following comment on a picture of me: " Sorry to state the obvious but...you got fat."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mary Landrieu Just Might Save My House From the IRS

I've posted earlier about our being taxed excessively and unjustly for our Road Home grant (here and here).

Today, 11 days before tax day, I think I have some great news. The Senate just passed by a vote of 74-5 an amendment by Mary Landrieu attached to the housing bill that would ensure that residents of Louisiana and Mississippi who received home rebuilding grants won't have to pay taxes on them. The story says "the measure is slated to pass next week." But then what? Tomorrow I'm going to spend the morning at the Superdome for an IRS Road Home tax workshop from 9:30-11, though they also have a second session from 1-2:30. I'll post here what I learn, though to be honest I don't think I'll learn anything and get upset after they talk to me like I have the IQ of a slow witted 7-year-old.

Later note: According to nola.com: "The Landrieu amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and other Gulf Coast lawmakers, would allow those taxpayers to amend their earlier return, repay the IRS with one year of interest and get their Road Home grant tax-free."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

How To Get Away with Manslaughter on Bourbon Street

Asphyxiate an African American college student on Bourbon Street for a dress code "violation", and then the real key here is to get the trial moved to Lake Charles, where you can choose a jury of 11 white people and one African American, or "colored," as they still say in polite circles in rural Louisiana. The first of 4 bouncers Arthur Irons is scheduled to leave the courthouse a free man. Levon Jones, well he's still dead. The Orleans Parish coroner's office said Jones died from asphyxiation from "excessive physical" force. The defense had Dr. Bruce Wainer testify that CPR caused damage that might have led to the coroner's "mistake." So how then did this young athlete die? Of course from a pre-existing heart condition, according to Wainer. Sounds like the jury had a real moral struggle with this one, deliberating for a whopping 1 hour and 15 minutes (45 minutes according to WGNO). My students from Louisiana told me that the minute this trial was moved out of New Orleans the bouncers would walk. I'm still pretty naive. I said there's no way with all the evidence. My prayers tonight are with Jones's family and girlfriend Glenda Milton. I'll just bet Dr. Wainer was wearing a Seersucker suit. If so, here comes Hollywood... and here come the racist comments.

Lil' Bush Plays Katrina

Tonight's episode of Lil' Bush is called "Katrina." Comedy Central's summary is as follows: "When the Lil' Gang destroy the white house "playing Katrina," George and Barbara decide to send them down to New Orleans to help with the rebuilding as punishment. Hijinx and misery ensue as they rock out, Cajun style, and reflood New Orleans. Back in Washington, George and Barbara are dealing with a crisis of their own - the bank is foreclosing on the White House and they might have to sell."

It comes on at 9:30 CST, right before the Daily Show. I'll be watching it with a scotch and a cigar in honor of Ashley.

NOLA Bloggers Mourn Loss of Ashley Morris

I read this morning that my friend Ashley Morris passed away. His wife Hana posted this sad news on his blog, an entry entitled "This is the Last Post." Ashley fought hard for the recovery of New Orleans, and I think he loved this great city more than anyone I know. Sinn Fein my brother. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Hana and their wonderful children. I loved watching Ashley be a dad. He was great at it. I still can't believe that he's gone. In a strange sort of modern technological way, the many many comments following Hana's post provide some insight into just how much Ashley's life meant to us. And in the words of Greg Peters at Suspect Device, regarding Ashley Morris's contribution to the NOLA blogosphere: "Ashley was fire. Ashley was the furnace where the rage was forged, where the steam pressure built, where raw anger began its conversion to power and motion."
Photo by Ray in New Orleans, taken from this post from Ashley.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Apathy's Set on Youtube

My daughter Kalypso shot video of Apathy's set at the Omaha Punk Rock Reunion show at the Waiting Room Lounge on 3-29-2008. It's rough, raw, unedited, and it is what it is, and here it is:

Songs: Homage, My World, Out the Window

Songs: All Was, Six Feet Under, Ace of Spades (Motorhead Cover)