Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gods Behaving Badly

I just finished Marie Phillips's novel Gods Behaving Badly. I got it from the crawfishy library two days ago and couldn't put it down. It's about the Greek pantheon living in modern London, and it is very funny. I've always been a fan of ancient stories set in modern times.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ban on Crawfishy Hands

I saw this sign at the Mid-City library. Are oystery hands OK? What about lobstery? But seriously, there are crawfish everywhere this time of year. When I walk to work I see crawfish heads, tails, and pinchers all over the streets and sidewalks. The crawfishy carnage reminds me of the Eid al-Adha feasts in Jordan and Palestine, where you would see goat body parts all over the street for a couple of weeks. Speaking of goats, did you ever notice how Adrastos has "goaty" hands?

Later note: Adrastos plagiarizes this post and spells "library" incorrectly. What a malaka!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Richard Thompson's Newest Fan

I have recently become enchanted with the British songwriter and guitar player Richard Thompson. Don't know how I missed him my first 42 years, but glad he's on my radar now. I find his guitar playing to be pretty amazing, but it's his lyrics that I like the most. I've always been a fan of ballads.
My two favorite songs by him thus far are "Let it Blow" and "1952 Vincent Black Lightning." I've got to check out his earlier band, Fairport Convention.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beers and Boogaloos

For 13 hours yesterday I manned the Abita Beer stand at the 3rd annual Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo, and sold about 3,000 beers. Howie joined me for a few hours, but we had to replace him because he wasn't able to sell as many Abita Ambers as he was chugging. It was a decision based purely on profits.
Howie and Michael selling & drinking Abita Ambers

It was the biggest and best Boogaloo thus far. There were several thousands of people there, great New Orleans music, canoeing in the Bayou, Mardi Gras Indians, incredible food, and oh yeah, the cold Abita drafts.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Weezer's Pork and Beans

I find this video to be a truly awesome summary of internet videos:

Alien Objects

Unlike malakas such as Adrastos, I have never had an anal probe. Well, that's not entirely true, as about 10 years ago a physician checked me for prostate cancer. I haven't been back to see a doctor since.

Aliens have been on my mind lately for a trinity of reasons.

First, the official Vatican astronomer said he thought aliens existed. Plus, they don't need redemption. How is it that we earthling Catholics have to bust our butts with confession and rosaries and all that kneeling, and be doomed to poverty by having 20 kids, but these aliens get to fly around in cool spaceships and shoot things with radar guns? It's far from fair.

Second, yesterday I received a letter from Alex LaPerchia, who writes that since the Vatican has brought aliens out of the closet, that Catholics should share their views on the topic. He then shares, among other things, the connection between discs of fire in the Book of Ezekiel and UFO's. He invited me, so I'll invite you, to watch a lecture he wrote with his wife on the topic. Go ahead and watch it, I dare you, it's called "Alien (Angel and Demon) and UFO Encounters with Mankind."

Third, aliens play a big role in the newest Indiana Jones movie. But these aren't the kind of aliens I heard about growing up in Nebraska, who turned cows inside out and abducted farmers to probe their alimentary canals. These Spielberg aliens live in the "space between space," like in that stupid movie Contact. These aliens know so much that our inferior brains explode and our eyes catch on fire when we get just a smidgen of their knowledge. This concept mirrors ancient descriptions of gods and their superiority to humans. Somehow modern aliens have taken over where ancient gods left off. But whether it's an ancient god or a modern ET, I won't let them touch me in the swimsuit area.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones IV, Probably Best Movie EVER

I took the kids to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
My favorite parts were a cameo by the Ark of the Covenant, ancient Mayan archaeologists with collections from ancient Egypt and Babylon and China and everywhere, huge attacking ants and monkeys, and Indie telling students they have to get out of the library to be archaeologists. I'd tell you more but I wouldn't want to ALIENate anyone, and I want the spaceships, Area 51, and the new age archaeological fraud known as the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull to be a surprise. Ooops, I've said too much. At least I didn't tell you about about the huge surprise ending, where Sean Connery's skull is used as a bong by those crystal skeleton alien mofos. Oooops again.

Day Starting Off Well

I like to lay in bed when I first wake up, and listen to Morning Edition and read the Times-Picayune. And today on the front page was an article by David Hammer called "June 16 Last Day to Delcare Interest in Elevation Grants."

It seems we might be eligible to receive an additional $30,000 from FEMA for elevating our Katrina damaged home. We raised our house so that now we're just above the Katrina water line, or about 3 feet above Base Flood Elevation. I'm not sure just how high, as we haven't had a survey yet. Earlier we received a grant of $30,000 from the Louisiana Road Home to raise our house. But raising our house was expensive, and in the end cost $87,000. So I went to my old friend, surfed around, and the website said to contact my local State Hazard Mitigation Officer, Mr Casey Levy. So I did, and I have my fingers crossed.

Also, it is the last day of school for the kids. They get out at noon, and then we're going to see the Indiana Jones movie.

Update: The day is getting worse. Mr Casey Levy wrote back saying to call the Office of Community Development (225-219-9600). The lady on the phone at the OCD said that once you received $150,000 from the Road Home, that was it. She said there was no way I was eligible for any additional FEMA funds, and when I explained David Hammer's article, she said she didn't have time to read it, but said that the article was wrong based on what I was telling her. So now I've emailed David Hammer asking him if hIs article is in error, or if I misread what he wrote, or if the lady at the OCD is mistaken?

Update 2: David heard back from the LRA and FEMA and confirmed that they are separate, so the lady on the phone at the OCD was wrong and I am still eligible to apply. Now if I can only convince the people with the forms that their policy is in error and that they should send me an application. I'll work on this tomorrow.

Update 3: I called the Road Home Elevation Assistance Hotline (877-0234-1513) and the lady on the phone was very helpful. She thought I should have been mailed something recently about this, and if I don't hear from her or receive the letter, to contact her office next Tuesday.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Got A Basketball Jones

Tonight it's game 7, with the New Orleans Hornets up against the San Antonio Spurs. Adding to the drama is Robert Horry's cheap shot against David West in game 6, a dirty play reminiscent of Horry taking out Steve Nash last year. While David West lay in agony on the court the classy San Antonio fans chanted "Horry! Horry!" And nobody here has forgotten San Antonio tried to steal our football team immediately after Katrina. So there's a line in the sand, which reminds me, your whole Alamo story is a myth.

Update: Check out these videos of Spurs players flopping and even worse, Bowen playing dirty to injure other players.

Update: well it didn't happen. Congratulations to the Spurs, and go Lakers, though I won't be watching. The Spurs really outplayed the Hornets, especially with rebounding and bench play. Would have liked to see Chris Paul vs Kobe, though honestly I'm much more invested in the Obama vs. McCain debates. Hopefully after tomorrow's vote, that will be more likely.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dog Gone South

Well shut my fat ol' mouth and stuff me with chitlins, I just realized that many of my prejudices against Dixie stem from this fantastic Merrie Melodies cartoon by Chuck Jones called Dog Gone South (1950). Notice the lyrics "Oh boll my weevil and corn my pone, You'll never be lonely 'cause you're never alone, When you're way down south (click click) I said a way down south." Well yuck yuck yuck and a fiddle dee dee, and Oh Belvedere, Come here boy!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Than We Can Handle

Cancer is waging war on my friends and family. It took my dad's life just over a year ago. Currently I have three uncles with cancer, two aunts, two of my colleagues in the Theology department have wives who had breast cancer, and it remains active in one case, and a friend in Georgia just passed away from cancer. Today a good friend in New Orleans who beat her cancer a year ago just learned that the cancer has returned. The idea that "God never gives us more than we can handle" seems ridiculous for those dealing with cancer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Yankee Doodling in the Land of the Cotton

Photo by Editor B

While scootering around New Orleans today a pickup truck passed by, and Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama was blasting through the windows. There were several southern pride bumper stickers on the truck, most notably the Confederate Flag. As the truck raced by I took a long look at the Jefferson Davis statue on the boulevard named after the president of the Confederacy. I just don't get this Civil War pride vibe. As far as I'm concerned, it would be like wearing a swastika in post-war Germany. Sadly nobody has tagged Mr. Davis' statue with "Slave Owner" graffiti lately, but happily I know they will. I then got to thinking about two incidents recently that baffle me.

First, city councilwoman Stacy Head allegedly called a woman at Jazzfest a "Yankee bitch." The witness of the altercation then goes on to explain that the woman comes "from Kentucky with as strong a Southern heritage (and accent) as it comes." Others furthered the lady's defense in a similar fashion. Thus it seems in post Civil War Dixie, being called "Yankee" is far worse than being called a "bitch." (Note to self: don't try this experiment on Therese).

Second, my contractor and my neighbor have been feuding via email over a broken window on my neighbor's property. Our architect and project manager, stepping in as an abritrator, explained to my neighbor that the contractor is "from New York." My neighbor wrote back saying "that explained a lot."

This all reminds me of creating ethnicity and identity out of dislike. For example, much of what defines Canadians is a dislike of the United States. Cultural identity in ancient Israel came from focusing on a dislike of those not circumcised, even though the material cultures of Israel and her neighbors were nearly identical at times. Similarly here in Dixie, an alleged superior identity is molded out of a stereotype of Yankee blatant straight talk and razor sharp efficiency instead of taking the time for small talk and pleasantries. And those pesky standardized test scores that repeatedly mark Yankees as superior intellectually... well, daaaawwwwlin, those test scores be biased, bless their hearts.

By the way, "bless your heart" in Dixie really means "go to hell." So in the end, like Moses, I'm a stranger in a strange land. I love New Orleans and consider it my home. But people born here will never accept me. Like Joshua Clark writes in Heart Like Water, "If you are birthed in Baton Rouge, say, and move here [New Orleans] when you're two weeks old and stay here until you die at the age of 100, your obituary will state, 'Originally from Baton Rouge, So-and-so moved to New Orleans when he attended...'"

I'm a big Neil Young fan by the way. And I know from the lyrics that blasted out of the southern-pride truck, "a southern man don't need him around anyhow." Same southern man don't need me and my family around neither. But we'se stayin', and my bags are not made out of Katrina soaked carpet.

When Governments Impede Disaster Recovery

It's been a rough 10 days for millions of people. First Cyclone Nargis flooded Myanmar and the death toll is estimated to top 100,000, with more than a million people homeless. Then yesterday a major earthquake rocked China, and the current estimate of 10,000 dead is expected to climb. The people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast send their thoughts and prayers to those suffering from these two most recent natural disasters.

Government officials in the U.S. have been outspoken about how the inept governments of Myanmar and China will cause more death and suffering by delaying aid and recovery. I first heard this theme a week ago when I saw Laura Bush criticize Myanmar officials. But to me, the Bush administration has no street cred when it comes to handling disasters after their response to Katrina. I think of all the foreign aid offered to the Gulf Coast that our government ignored. And Laura Bush directly condemns Myanmar's government for not understanding the magnitude of the disaster, and I remember her husband saying "I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" after being repeatedly warned about this very thing.

I have no doubt that thousands will die because of the governments of China and Myanmar. But I would add that thousands died here because of our government's ineptitude, and people are still passing away because of the Federal Flood. For many it has been a slow and depressing death. And there is untold suffering. A recent survey conducted nearly 3 years after Katrina finds that two-thirds of the residents of Louisiana impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita feel they aren't close to recovery yet. I would put my family and I in that position.

As my friend Editor B pointed out two years ago, recovery after a major disaster is a marathon, not a sprint. But sadly governments can at times make the marathon even more difficult.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Purple Halfway House

Today marks the halfway point in the rebuilding of our house. We've thus far paid the contractor for 51.22% of the total contracted work. Yeah, and notice it's purple. We wanted the sort of house that if we didn't live in New Orleans, neighbors would complain. Plumbing and electrical are roughed in, and now it is HVAC and insulation and then drywall late next week. One more thing... All of this has been stressful... Very very stressful.

Response to a Student's Email

It's grading time at Xavier, and I just responded to a student with the following email:

Dear student's name, while I didn't fully understand your email request, it seems that you are begging that I give you a high grade because of the following reasons:

1. The registrar made a mistake and so that is why you missed the first three weeks of class,
2. Auto accident forced you to miss even more classes,
3. Ulcer required bed rest and you missed even more classes, and in the end you were absent for 68% of the classes,
4. Repeated bad advice from other students and your advisor talking you out of dropping the course.

Is there anything I'm missing? While I'm qualified at assigning marks based on the quality of research papers and performance on exams, I'm not sure how to grade based on the circumstances which you outline. Please advise.

Dr. Homan