Thursday, January 31, 2008

Office Mouse Strikes Again, Kills Bedouin Family

Earlier this month, an evil mouse ate the face off of my Moses action figure. Sadly, the mouse's killing spree has continued. This is a model of a Bedouin tent that I got in Jordan back in the late 90's.
It used to have a nice Bedouin couple living in it. They were happy, sitting there in the tent, perpetually drinking their tea. Now they're gone without a trace. There are mouse teeth marks everywhere, and I think I've found the Bedouin man's moustache and kafilla mixed in with mouse feces on the floor. I was fond of that tent and the Bedouin family. I did my dissertation on ancient tents, and then published a revised version with Brill Academic under the long title: To Your Tents, O Israel!: The Terminology, Function, Form, and Symbolism of Tents in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. It's not written for a general audience, though it got good reviews. It's currently listed as #3,179,731 in the sales rank. As part of the research I spent a great deal of time with real Bedouin in the south of Jordan, and this tent was a kitchy way for me to remember those times. The mouse is also chewing on my books.

So now my main goal in life is to bring this murderous mouse to judgement. You can see in the above picture that on the shelf in the background (upper right) that I have two types of mouse traps, the old fashioned kind with a tasty cheese bait, and then the new sticky surface kind, with some more cheese in the middle. I'm hoping he chooses the sticky surface kind, and then I will enjoy taunting him with my many other Bible and ancient Near East action figures who survived his killing spree. It is on, mouse!

When the Corps Can Do No Wrong

We were one of the 500,000 who filed claims against the Army Corps of Engineers for damages that arose when their crappy drainage walls and levees broke and flooded the city in August 2005. Our claim was for about $100,000, which covered the increased cost of living expenses that arose when we haven't been able to live in our house for the past 2 1/2 years, and also the funds we needed to rebuild that were not covered by Road Home money. But yesterday, Judge Stanwood Duval ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers is not liable for the damage they caused me, my neighbors, and the citizens of New Orleans. It's not that I expected that I'd ever receive money from the Corps, and it was a miracle that a year later they even acknowledged that their levees were awful, but once again the people are screwed and the entity that did all this damage isn't liable. The contractor rebuilding my house would certainly be liable if he built a bad ceiling that caved in, so why not the corps? Judge Duval did give the Corps a stern talking-to, and he said:
"Often, when the King can do no wrong, his subjects suffer the consequences. Such is the case here. This story -- 50 years in the making -- is heart-wrenching. Millions of dollars were squandered in building a levee system with respect to these outfall canals which was known to be inadequate by the corps' own calculations."

I'm sure the Corps feels just awful because of these scathing comments. Not bad enough to suspend or fire anyone, but sort of the shake your head up and down and promise to do better kind of feeling awful. Anyway, I need to put this behind me and get ready for the Muses parade tonight. And if you know anyone with an extra $100,000 laying around, send it my way.

Update: Muses and the other parades cancelled due to the massive thunder storms moving in, so we'll be at home watching the season premiere of Lost.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Barkus 2008 Pics

Barkus 2008 was a big success. We sure enjoyed the theme: Indiana Bones and the Raiders of the Lost Bark. Here are some pics:
Gilgamesh, Mosey, Kochise, and the idol.
Our float.
Kochise and the idol.
Group Photo.
Me dressed up as Indiana, but with B's suggestion, I now go by "Nebraska Homan."
Keith and Jeffrey.
Mark and Carol Gstohl.
Therese and Kalypso as belly dancers.
There were some big crowds.

Later Note Bailey, Mosey and Kalypso appear at the end of this video, and Howie's Barkus pics are here.

Friday, January 25, 2008


It's 11:30 on Friday and I'm the happiest I've been in some time.
I'm a cynical person who typically spreads depression. So why the smile? As you can see from the photo, I bought an iphone and now wonder how I ever lived without it. I'm also very excited about Barkus on Sunday. Our float and costumes look great, and moreover, its Indiana Jones theme is a dream for geeky Near Eastern archaeologists/historians like me. I tried unsuccessfully to explain this to my students today, about how Near Eastern archaeologists need to quote Indiana Jones movies in order to gain prestige. I remember being in the back of a Bedouin's pickup truck in the deserts of south Jordan, and as we passed another pickup, Craig Bowman yelled "Indie, throw me the idol, I throw you the whip." Everyone was impressed, except for the Bedouins. And at Petra, urrr I mean the Valley of the Crescent Moon, every self-respecting archaeologist needs to say repeatedly "Only the penitent man will pass." I'm also very excited that the super parade Endymion is returning to my Mid-City neighborhood next weekend. Moreover, I'm on my way to our house on South Alexander street to pay our general contractor $20,000 for the work he's done. After 2 1/2 years of nothing happening on our house, it is so great to see it progress. Plus the Jazzfest lineup this year looks fantastic, and I'm going to try to buy tickets to Rush tomorrow, which is coincidentally my 42nd birthday. I'll be celebrating on the parade route near Lee Circle. Stop by and say "Where Y'at?"

Life is good in New Orleans these days, at least it is for me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Best Krewe du Vieux Ever

Last night was amazing. Congratulations to all the Krewe du Vieux participants for creating such a great parade. Also thanks to Keith and Jeffrey for hosting such a great pre-KDV party once again.

Maybe it was the Magical Misery Tour theme (I'm a Beatles fan), or maybe it was that we have so many corrupt and horrible leaders to lampoon, but it was quite a bit of fun. I even got to see Allstate roasting in hell, which was cathartic.

Let me give you one example of why I love New Orleans so much.
This is Kim on the left, aka the blogger Dangerblond. She is studying law, and in a few short days she will be taking the BAR exam. But last night she put studying on the back burner and she marched with Mama Roux. I took this picture right before she gave me a jello shot and filled my mouth up with whipped cream. She was joined by Karen Gadbois, and all three of us are on the February 9th ballot for the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee. I also saw Mark Folse, Ray in New Orleans, Maitri (who gave me the best throw), Hammhawk. Didn't see Ashley, Dr A, or Adrastos, but my friends did.

If you are a huge Krewe du Vieux fan, or have an hour to kill and don't mind seeing photographs of fake phalluses, then check out my 140 photos on Flickr from last night.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Good Kings and Bad People

This is a plastic baby, and we shove it in King Cakes. It's supposed to represent the baby Jesus. Whoever gets the piece with the baby in it buys the next King Cake. Today is a major milestone in the Mardi Gras season, as Krewe du Vieux will be marching through the French Quarter later this evening. Their theme is the Magical Misery Tour, so there will be some great parody of Beatle's songs. So that's one good king, the baby that is. Another is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who has a holiday coming up Monday. I'm looking forward to honoring the man.

But this year, on Martin Luther King Jr Day, some white supremacists who go by the name of the Nationalist Movement will be armed and marching in Jena Louisiana to protest the earlier March in favor of justice and equality. They also made a banner saying "No Kings Over Us," which you can check out in this disturbing Youtube video. Let me guess . . ., I'll bet nooses are part of their theme.

It all makes me wish I had married an African-American woman. Still glad I don't own a gun.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bush's Beatitudes

President Bush visited the Mount of Beatitudes today. Amazingly yet thankfully, and with his lame duck status here, Bush has taken to see what he can do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I'm glad he's there, as I believe that the Bush administration's neglect of the Palestinians is the primary root of the world being such a dangerous place today. Bush's advisors felt that visiting the place where Jesus delivered the Beatitudes would symbolize to both sides the value of peace. Of course, Bush is a big fan of Jesus, but I am not sure he really understands the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes are basically 8 blessings delivered by Jesus near the Sea of Galilee as recorded in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. They're very useful tools in trying to figure out what Jesus meant when he spoke of "the kingdom of God." I thought it would be useful to compare Jesus' words to those of George W. Bush.

Jesus: "Blessed are the poor."
Bush: "Ike had lots to do. First off, he had to clean up the big mess left by Franklin Roosevelt, a President who wasted so much taxpayer money on needless and wasteful social programs that us Republicans had to impose a two-term limit."

Jesus: "Blessed are they who weep."
Bush: "It's amazing I won. I was running against peace, prosperity, and incumbency."

Jesus: "Blessed are the meek."
Bush: "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."

Jesus: "Blessed are those who hunger."
Bush: "America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Jesus: "Blessed are the merciful."
Bush: "I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind."

Jesus: "Blessed are the pure of heart."
Bush to Brazil's President: "Do you have blacks too?"

Jesus: "Blessed are the peacemakers."
Bush: "Yes, if you heard the bombs falling, you'll know that democracy is on the march in the Middle East."

Jesus: Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness."
Bush: "Eventually, these people [at Guantanamo] will have trials and they will have counsel and they will be represented in a court of law."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Plague of Mice

I have a pretty impressive collection of Bible action figures. But yesterday I discovered on the floor under my desk one of my Moses figures. He had a rough night.
Photo 2
It seems a mouse gnawed off his face, chewed on his robe, and even started chewing on the upper corner of the second tablet of the Ten Commandments. The mouse came close to wiping out the sixth commandment, which forbids murder. But the prohibition against murder still stands, even here in New Orleans, the murder capital of the U.S. Perhaps the mouse was trying to enforce the second commandment, which prohibits making idols, such as Moses figurines. But I'm not so worried. Luckily I have a second one still in the box.
Photo 3

Monday, January 07, 2008

Gambit's New Orleanian of the Year

Xavier's president and head of the LRA Norman Francis is the New Orleanian of the year 2007 according to the Gambit. Personally, I can't think of anyone who has done more for the recovery of New Orleans.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Good Fans

My roots are from Nebraska, where the fans cheer for the opposing team if they beat the Huskers, so maybe I'm naive. I have many lingering bad feelings about the way Saints fans were treated last January in Chicago when they lost to the Bears. I heard many stories about spit, thrown beers, punches, and some very mean Katrina-related words. Here's hoping that we in Louisiana and New Orleans can be good hosts to the many Ohio State fans who thankfully have flocked to our city. I can't wait for the game.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

When The Levee Breaks

I was very sorry to hear that a levee failed in Nevada after a couple inches of rain. The many people who suffered flooded homes, their lives will never be the same.

Q: What's High in the Middle and Round on Both Ends?

A: The giant buckeye-shaped bruise that will be swelling on the butt-cheeks of Ohio State's football team courtesy of LSU after Monday night's BCS championship game at the Superdome.
I'm very excited about Monday night's football game. Even Allstate's sponsorship won't ruin it for me. I've devised a drinking game where every time we see Allstate's spokesman Dennis Haysbert lie about the "good hands", we'll chug shots of a drink I've invented called "Dennis Hasybert will do anything for money" or "Allstate's $ whore" for short. I haven't figured out the recipe yet, just the name. I wonder how much money Dennis Haysbert has made off of Allstate screwing their customers? At least he's happy, as are the share holders. The people of Louisiana and Mississippi who had Allstate insurance when Katrina hit, well, we're not so happy. Even though I would rather Allstate had paid us in October of 2005, at least their money won't be going to fund suicide bombers. Instead that money will be used to advertise Monday. Allstate, Superdome, good hands, "that's Allstate's stand," etc. Damnit, I need to figure out the recipe for Allstate's $ whore soon, as writing this blog made me realize that I need a drink!. Gilgamesh and I today went to the Black and Gold shop and bought LSU shirts and hats, and we're going to watch the game at Howie's. That's where we saw LSU beat Oklahoma for the championship in 2003, so it has good karma. As Mr. Haysbert says in the picture above, Geaux Tigers!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Some Bowl Sponsorship Ideas

The people of New Orleans have been inundated with Allstate Insurance ads lately, as Allstate is sponsoring the Sugar Bowl and the BCS Championship game next Monday. The advertising campaign might be the most bold and callous spin jobs in history, as we're still suffering from the failure of insurers such as Allstate and State Farm now 2 1/2 years after the levees failed. But now Allstate wants people to look at the Superdome and to think about what a great company Allstate is.

Following Allstate's lead, here are some other brilliant bowl sponsorship ideas:

1. The Taliban Manhatten Bowl.
2. The Enron Texas Bowl.
3. The Exxon Valdez Alaska Bowl.
4. The Crack Cocaine Urban Bowl, or alternatively, the Crystal Meth Suburban Bowl.
5. The Enola Gay Hiroshima Bowl.
6. The Hutu Militia's Tutsi Bowl.
7. The Army Corps of Engineer's Levee Bowl.
8. The Fire and Brimstone Sodom Bowl.
9. The Vesuvius Pompeii Bowl.
10. The Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

2007 wasn't the happiest of years for me, primarily because my father passed away in February. I think about him every day. We also spent our third Christmas since Katrina outside of our home. But in 2007 there were some positive events: we settled with Allstate insurance, we raised our house and had a new foundation built. In the middle of 2008 we hope to move back into our home. Things by-and-large are slowly returning to "normal."