Monday, December 29, 2008

Congrats to a Tenured Howie

I just found out that my friend and colleague Dr. Howie Luvzus received tenure at Xavier. Moreover, he got promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. I ask you though, would you give tenure to someone who appears in public dressed thusly?:
I know this post-Katrina world has been a real emotional roller coaster for him, which may have played a role in his cross-dressing. Congratulations to him and his family on this well-deserved accomplishment. In my letter of support for his being granted tenure, amongst many paragraphs of praise, I wrote the following two sentences (note that Howie, believe it or not, goes by a different moniker at times):

"My job satisfaction here at Xavier is directly related to having Dr. Gstohl as a colleague. I consider Dr. Gstohl to be my best friend, and he is someone who I admire greatly both for his scholarship, teaching, and personality."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Freakin' Saints

I'm hating the Saints a bit more than I love them right now, as their season just ended on another disappointing note. I think 6 of their 8 losses were by three points or less. They can't finish games. Our defensive secondary is awful, as is our pass rush. Jason David might be the nicest guy in the world, but I sure hope he's being nice in some other city next season. And yet, as crushed as I am right now, hope springs eternal, as I just renewed my season tickets for 2009.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Turning Pages Soaked by a Flood on a Christmas Day

We went to see Benjamin Button today at the Prytania. The film had a big impact on me, and my eyes teared up more than a few times. The city of New Orleans plays a leading role in the movie, both through its amazing links to the past, as well as the tragedy of Katrina. The movie begins with a blind clockmaker losing his son to the First World War. He builds a clock that runs backwards in order to go back in time and to bring the dead loved-ones back. The movie ends with Katrina flood waters rising, soon to destroy this same clock. The two relatively recent events in my life that made the film especially poignant were witnessing the suffering of New Orleanians after the waters rose when the levees broke, and the passing of my own father a couple of years ago.

The theme of photographs, captured moments in time, were recurring in the film. I was sad a couple of months after Katrina to learn that my photo album had been destroyed in the flood. A few days before Katrina, Therese said she had moved all the photo albums upstairs, but she forgot mine. Here is one of the pictures I took of a flooded photo, one that shows me sleeping with my dad.
So this year I was impressed that Therese went to the trouble to make me a new photo album of a few pictures she was able to collect. Here's a picture of the first page:
The message I suppose, perpetrated by the film and my photo album experience, is that monumental moments in our lives are unexpected, random, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, rarely orderly, and it takes a great deal of courage to keep playing.

I know some have disregarded Benjamin Button as a Forrest Gump copy due to many similarities, mostly because Eric Roth's authorship of both screenplays. I'm not a fan of Gump, and felt that Button was a much better film. Roth explains that both of his parents died while he was writing Button, and I agree with Roth that this script is "more mature." David Fincher did a great job directing. His earlier film Seven remains one of my all time favorite movies.

So I guess we need to go forward, though I do enjoy looking backward now and then. And if I aged backwards like Mr Button, one day someone will look in my new (though old) photo album, and see what looked like shortly before my death:
Now I'm going to introduce my visiting in-laws to Benjamin Button's favorite libation, one that so well represents New Orleans, the mighty mighty sazerac.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas is a Lie

Today, they will tell you, it is Christmas Eve 2009. However, it isn't Christmas Eve, and it isn't 2009. They've been lying to you.
Christmas is supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Yet nobody knows the time of year at which Jesus was born. Some people claim Jesus was born in the Spring, because of a passage in Luke 2:8 which claims that there were shepherds keeping their flocks nearby. But all of that is suspect too. I don't even believe Jesus was born in Bethlehem. So, at best, there is a 1/365 chance that Jesus was born December 25th. Not very good odds.

And we really have no idea what year it is. Some reportedly brilliant man named Dennis the Little miscounted the reign of Augustus when calculating how many years it had been since Jesus' birth. Some people claim that we're off by four years because Herod the Great, the guy who tried to kill the baby Jesus according to Matthew 2, died in 4 BCE. So there we are, with Jesus being born four years after a man who tried to kill him. So it might be 2005, but we really don't know. They're lying to us. People like Kathy Lee Gifford, Adrastos, and Oprah.

Furthermore, if some of the great biblical prophets came into a home with Christmas trees, they would rightly claim we are worshipping the fertility goddess Asherah. But in reality it's the pagan elements of Christmas that I love the most, like the lights, the santa clauses, elves, and all the eggnog flavored brandy. I'm hoping that Asherah might visit me tonight, due to the tree and some triangle-shaped-pubic-triangle-cookies I left out for her, old school style (Jeremiah 44:19). I'll bet she is hot! For dinner tonight, with Therese's parents John and Mary Mike Fitzpatrick in town, I'm making oyster soup, prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, coconut covered dates, asparagus, and creme brulee. There will be quite a bit of wine involved, so after I explain how Christmas is a big fat lie, I might just tell everyone what I think of them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fa La La La Booooooo!

Last night we went caroling in Jackson Square. It was fun. The best part was when they announced Mayor Nagin and then hearing most of the 8,000 people boo. Also, turns out the crowd could sing better than Becky Allen, bless her heart, so they might think about turning down her microphone next year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Can the Bluebird of Happiness Survive?

Our friends B and Xy got us a bluebird of happiness for a housewarming gift.
It's cool, and Xy says it is an Appalachian tradition, where the glass bluebird is supposed to bring happiness to any house. I repeatedly joked that it wouldn't live long in our house due to so many people suffering from depression. In fact, it nearly died today from bad moods from Therese and Kalypso. Maybe Christmas will bring it back to health.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Save the New Year's Bonfire in Mid-City

I was shocked and sad yesterday when I received this flyer:
Bonfire Flyer 2008_2
"The City of New Orleans," which apparently means some bureaucrat who convinced the police department, the fire department, and parks and parkways, has decided to end a century old tradition in my neighborhood. Every year people take their Christmas trees on December 31st to the neutral ground on the 4200 block of Orleans Avenue. Then at nightfall, there is a massive celebration with a giant bonfire and fireworks. They argue that they are shutting this down for the safety of our persons and our homes. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever gotten hurt during this tradition, and no home has even come close to catching on fire. In the past there have always been police and a fire truck standing ready in case there were problems. With only a few firemen and police required, this strikes me as a very limited drain of city resources. Instead of focusing on this event, why not try to ticket the hundreds of people who shoot firearms in the air on New Years? Or spend some time doing police work so we don't have to live in the murder capital of the world. The Mid-City Neighborhood Organization asked if there was anyway to get a permit to hold the bonfire, and they were told no. I plan on writing to my City Council representatives, and voicing my disapproval at the Dec 22 meeting.

People who live here are going to fight when outsiders try to take away these cultural events. We don't want to live in anytown U.S.A. New Orleans has unique traditions that need to be defended.

Here is a video we made of our family at the bonfire two years ago. It's one of our favorite things to do in New Orleans.

Check out Save the Bonfire.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Less News is Good News

My name is Michael, and I'm a newsaholic. But I'm getting better.

Just one month ago, I would wake up around 6AM, listen to NPR's Morning Edition, read the Times-Picayune, and during the work day I would often check internet news. Back at home I would listen at 4PM to All Things Considered, watch the local ABC news at 5, and the national ABC news at 5:30, watch the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer at 6, while surfing back and forth with Hardball, and then at 7 PM my favorite news venue was Countdown with Keith Olbermann. He was outraged at the Bush administration, just like me. Then I would watch the Daily Show at 10, followed by the Colbert Report. Then I'd go to bed after checking the internet.

Now that Obama has won the election, I find I'm satisfied with far less news. I find all I need now is the Times-Picayune, NPR, the internet, and of course the Daily Show and Colbert. Sorry Keith Olbermann. I'm glad you're on the air, for what it is worth. Good night Keith, and good luck.
Keith Olbermann

What You Want, Baby I Had 40 Years Ago: Jazzfest Ages

The lineup for the 40th Jazzfest has just been announced. Aretha Franklin seems to be the biggest name on the bill. I remember how great she was, about 40 years ago. Here's a visual aid to show what time and fast food have done to her.
I also noticed acts like the O' Jays and Earth Wind and Fire. It will be like a freakin' 1970 polyester wax museum, so hope for clouds. In fact, is there anyone under 40 performing at Jazzfest? And if this is a trend, in 10 years will all the performers be over 50? Wasn't this the generation that said "Don't trust anyone over 30"? But before you think that I am advocating youth at any cost, I am pleased to report that the Imagination Movers are off the list. Rumor has it that their orange jumpsuit idea backfired when they got mistaken for prison workers last year. Even though Disney Channel isn't popular in prison, turns out the "Movers" are.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Homan With A Bullet

There's been an unholy war going on in the New Orleans blogosphere. The goal is to post the absolutely worst Xmas video. Thus, with bile and malcontent I present to you "Santa Claus Wants Some Luvin"

If you watch closely you can see a shirtless Adrastos with a weed blower.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Turns Out Chicago is the "Who" in "Who Dat Say They Gonna Beat Them Saints?"

For the third year in a row, da Bears ended the Saints' season on a cold and windy day at Soldier Field. Allstate is based in the Chicago area, so they celebrate, while I am thinking about getting back in shape and playing cornerback. The Saints need much improvement on defense, and I am pretty sure that I can be at least as good as Jason David.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow in South Town

I'm giving a final exam right now, and it's snowing pretty hard outside. This is the first time I've seen in snow in New Orleans. Well, actually one year before Katrina at City Park they dumped a bunch of fake snow for the kids to play with. But this is the first time I've seen real snow. In any case, I'll bet the Heat Miser is upset:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vitter's Filly Buster

David Vitter doesn't like the proposed congressional aid package they're putting together for the auto industry. He said it is "ass backward." But unfortunately, when my senator says things like that, I have mental images of Wendies and diapers. Make him stop, please.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Vince Marinello's 14 Point To-Do List

I can't get enough of the Vince Marinello trial. For those not following the case, Mr. Marinello is a local sportscaster who allegedly murdered his wife by shooting her twice in the face. That in itself is interesting, but the fascinating part here is the ineptitude Mr. Marinello seems to have displayed in doing the dastardly deed.

To pull of the caper, Marinello went for the brilliant "scruffy man on a bicycle" disguise. That might work in my neighborhood, but not in Metairie. They don't like scruffy, and they certainly don't like bicycles.

But the best part is the yellow note they found in his FEMA trailer, and yes, it was, a FEMA trailer thank God. The note allegedly has a map of the murder scene on one side, along with 3 phone numbers, one belonging to our late bigger-than-life Sheriff Harry Lee. On the other side: a to-do list pertaining to the murder. I've read that item number one was "Gun--River on way to MAMA." Other lines include: "Motive -- maybe -- NOT STRONG," "Insurance money -- None," "Clothes -- Burn," "girlfriend--none," and then other items pertaining to a bike, gloves, mustache, black tennis shoes, sunglasses and a white shirt. Also, he bought the fake mustache at the same place that supplies facial hair to Rex and other Mardi Gras fancy-lads.

Today at the trial the jury was presented the list. I need to see it, as soon as possible. I also feel the compulsion to know the identity of the other two phone numbers. So if you know anyone on the jury, or maybe you know someone in charge of evidence in Lafayette Louisiana, let them know that inquiring minds need to know more about that list.

Update: WWL posted this picture of the list, but it is too blurry to read:

Update 2: The TP reports that in addition to Harry Lee, the two other phone numbers were for a "floor man" and a co-worker of Marinello's at WWL.
Update 3: Here is the list:
Gun - River on way to mama
Id'd at scene car at trailer (white) - rent (?)
motive - maybe - NOT STRONG
insurance money - none
girlfriend - none
clothes - burn - mama
Inherit business - none
Inherit stocks - none
Peter bike - PAINT
gloves -OK
moustache - OK
black tennis shoes - /black socks ok [the words black socks ok were crossed out with wavy line]
sunglasses - OK
white shirt/black tie [the words black tie were crossed out with wavy line]

Friday, December 05, 2008

I Hate the Alamo, and Tonight I Will Toast Santa Anna & the 21st Amendment With a Sazerac

Prohibition ended 75 years ago today. I'd celebrate proper if I were in New Orleans. Sadly, I'm in Texas for a SACS conference. SACS, which stands for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, is the organization which accredits my university. This SACS conference is in San Antonio, which is a pretty cool city for Texas, I suppose. It's certainly cooler than places like Dallas and Waco. But I went to the Alamo earlier, and the whole experience made me sick. It was like Texas religion, with relics of Bowie knives and Davy Crockett hats. Seriously, who wears a raccoon carcass on their head? Well, my quest tonight will be to get an alcoholic beverage, even though I'd estimate 9/10 of Texas is what they call a "dry" county. My friends in New Orleans do not know what that means. Let me explain: it means they don't serve alcohol, not even a dry martini. Well SACS sort of sounds like sazerac, which was the first cocktail, and it was invented in New Orleans. Maybe I'll even have three, and then put a dead rodent on my head and kill me a beaaaaaaar.

Shoot! I just learned that Fess Parker played both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. I guess when TV needed an actor who looked good with a raccoon carcass on his head, he was a no brainer.

Later note: I could not find a sazerac in all of San Antonio, so I had a whiskey with club soda and a lemon. It was not as good as a sazerac. People tend to drink budweiser in San Antonio, and the only mixed drinks I saw were green apple martinis.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving Fight With My Mom about Gingerbread

My mom, Julie Homan, came to visit us over Thanksgiving weekend. The last time she was here was for Barkus 2005, so she hadn't been here since the flood. She was the first person to visit our renovated home, and it was great seeing her. Here you can see her playing Christmas songs on our piano with Kalypso, and me playing guitar. It's too bad her grandkids live so far away from her in Omaha, Nebraska. She doesn't feel like she knows them very well, and that they don't know her.
It's hard for her to visit us, as she has to leave behind her overweight dog Peaches with neighbors. And it is hard to live at someone else's house. I know it's hard for me to live elsewhere. Anyway, after a great Thanksgiving dinner at Howie's, we were home rolling out gingerbread dough to make, of course, gingerbread people. My mom kept repeating over and over that I needed to divide the dough, and I finally said "Christ, I hear you already, and look, I've divided the dough a long time ago, so can you please quit saying that." Then I said something about her being judgmental, as she had previously been repeating that we had too many animals and we don't take care of them. Well, she went to her room upset, and the visit wasn't the same after that. I doubt she'll be anxious to come back anytime soon, and God knows I dread dragging all four of us and two dogs in the car for 20 hours to Nebraska. So mom, if you get around to reading this, I love you, and I'm sorry I lost my patience about the gingerbread. But you should know we're thinking about getting a third dog.