Thursday, December 31, 2009


The past decade, with its wars, inhumanity, and government incompetence, was not a great one. I'll let others summarize the big picture. But here is a summary of things that happened to me personally during the past decade:
  • My son Gilgamesh was born in Jerusalem.
  • My daughter Kalypso became a teenager.
  • My father William Homan passed away from lung cancer. I miss him very much.
  • My mom Julie Homan became a septuagenarian. She also got a fat dog named Peaches, and this dog runs her house. I'm a big fan of Julie, but Peaches... not so much.
  • My brother Jim and my sister Chris seem to be doing well. We now own a farm together.
  • I met my birth parents and a sibling, and keep in regular contact with my birth mother Susan. This relationship is especially nice for Kali and Gil in that they have even more people who love them.
  • I received my Ph.D. in Ancient History from UCSD.
  • I got a job in the Theology Department at Xavier University of Louisiana, and we moved from Jerusalem to New Orleans. The Big Easy is a city that people either love or hate. Me, I love it. Now I have tenure and the rank of Associate Professor. For the most part, I like my job. My colleague Mark Gstohl is probably my second best friend. My best friend is Therese, and we've been married for 18 years.
  • We brought two dogs into our lives. Kochise and Mosey. Mosey a very stupid Weimaraner. Lucky for her, she is pretty. Kochise is a very smart West Highland Terrier. Neither dog enjoys the Mardi Gras parade Barkus.
  • Therese and I bought our first house, and it's where we still live at 215 S. Alexander Street in New Orleans. I believe this will be the house in which I die someday.
  • I swam to work one day in 2005 after the levees failed in New Orleans. I saw the complete breakdown of civilization, death, despair, and terrifying mayhem. These images still haunt me. I later spent some time in the Causeway Concentration Camp and eventually made it out of the city. These events have unfortunately defined my life for the past 4 years. I am hoping to move past these events during the next decade and get back to being a Bible scholar.
  • We spent 3 years rebuilding our flooded house. It took one year for the insurance company to say they weren't going to pay us. Then it took one year for a legal fight. During this time I was on CNN and in the NY Times, and I testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Shortly before the court date our insurance company settled. Then it took another year to rebuild our house.
  • I participated in several archaeological excavations in Israel and Jordan. My daughter thrice accompanied me, and this summer Gilgamesh will be going with me to dig in Jordan. In 2005 a stone-bowl inscribed with an ancient alphabet was found in the area which I supervised at Tel Zeitah. This was without question the most amazing archaeological discovery with which I have been involved. I published two books, including The Bible for Dummies written with my friend Jeff Geoghegan.
  • I started this blog in October of 2003. It was originally meant to make me a better teacher. I'm not sure that has happened. But it has been an interesting experience nonetheless. Blogging can be a powerful tool. Thanks to my new neighbor Editor B for helping me get started. And thanks to those of you who waste your time reading this.
Happy New Year, and may your teen decade be blessed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

$5,000 Christmas Picture from Santa

2009 was a Christmas to remember. Or to forget. Our car is still in Omaha. It needs a new transmission and drive axle. It will cost more than $5,000, and it won't be ready until late next week at the earliest. My father-in-law graciously allowed us to borrow his van to get back to New Orleans. School starts for the kids already next week, and we have many work related projects to complete before the New Year. But back to the Christmas from 2009:

My favorite gift was a Saints gnome. I also got fleur de lis cuff links and tattoo, a boot scraper, an oven liner, a blue vase, some dessert wine, an ornament, and some pistachios. I also got about $350 cash. I forget what else. All it cost me was three seventeen hour drives to Omaha and a $5,000 transmission.

Another way to look at is this picture, of the newest generation of Homans, cost $5000.
Sure it's cute. It's Kalypso, Cedric, Lena, Zane, and Gilgamesh. But for $5,000 Gilgamesh should have removed his face mask. But being that the high temperature was 5 degrees, who can blame him?

We also got this picture of my mom and my siblings:
Surely that's not worth $5,000. I like the picture though. And in any case, I could have taken the same picture next week when I have to drive back to Omaha to get my car, which needed a new transmission, which cost more than $5,000 as I might have mentioned earlier.

Screw you Santa! And Omaha, if and when I get my car back, you probably won't be seeing me for a while.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stuck in Omaha

We've been leaking transmission fluid in our car, and there has been a giant blizzard the past two days. We were supposed to be driving back to New Orleans today, after a week in Nebraska. Anyway, we took our car in today to La Vista Toyota, and they said we have a bad seal to the transmission pump. The won't be able to get one in stock until Tuesday. We tried to drive anyway thinking we could stop every 100 miles and add transmission fluid, but we only made it a couple of miles when we decided we'd better turn around. There were dozens of cars in the ditches, and the car wasn't handling right. When we pulled over the transmission fluid was nearly empty, so we put in transmission fluid and drove back to my mom's house. At 6 AM Monday we'll drop it off again at La Vista Toyota.

All of this creates several problems. One that I solved is that Howie will be using my Saints tickets. Howie suggested I email them to him and I was able to do this on the Saints website. We're still trying to get in touch with the neighborhood guy who has been taking care of our dogs. We need him to know he has to continue if possible and also check in on the guinea pig, the parrot, and the sugar glider. I had to cancel my doctor's appointment for Tuesday. We don't know what to do with the guys who are working on our solar panels. They were supposed to meet me early Monday. Anyway, we have several big headaches, and let me tell you, I know what it means to miss New Orleans. We are still more than 1000 miles away and wishing we never left.

Friday, December 18, 2009

If You're Curious About The Saints...

Read the article entitled Saints the Soul of America's City by Wright Thompson. It's a longer article than you are expecting, but he really captures what this team and this season mean to this amazing city.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rome and Dr Marion Nelson

I just finished watching the first season of HBO's series Rome. It's brilliant, and it reminded me of one of my favorite teachers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha: Dr Marion Nelson. Back in the late 1980's I took several courses from her, two of which were Roman Republic and Roman Empire. It was her passion for the past and her amazing ability to synthesize stories that persuaded me to major in history. Thanks Dr Nelson.

I can't wait to watch the second and final season, though I've heard from my friend Nana Friedman (a classicist from Oxford and a Jordanian dig buddy) that it's not quite as good as the first season.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Doctor Will See You Now

It's been about 20 years since I visited a physician for a check up. I'm not much of a fan of the modern American medical industry. My distaste comes from working at various hospitals and nursing homes when I was younger. I encountered quite a few medical shysters, and the way the system was set up with the insurance industry made me upset. I also don't like the enormous wait times and having to wear backless gowns. Plus, now I'm at the age where there will likely be something, either a finger or a probe, inserted into my backside. A couple of years ago I made an appointment to see Dr. Paul Gailiunas. I read quite a lot about him, and I was a huge fan. He seemed to clearly be in the medical field to help people. Dr Paul moved away in 2007 after his wife Helen Hill was murdered. So now that I'm in my mid-40's, I think it might be time to get checked out. I just made an appointment to see Dr Azikiwe Lombard with the Tulane Multispecialty Center on December 29th. I've never met Dr. Azikiwe, and I'm hoping the visit and the diagnosis go well.

Friday, December 04, 2009

More Evidence That We're Fighting Over the Soul of America

Yesterday in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a panel of health professionals asked for continued federal support for the damaged health care infrastructure in New Orleans. The following debate occurred:

"Is everyone so poor in Louisiana that the state cannot do more for you? Are you going to be a permanent ward of the federal government?"
Rep Darrell Issa, R-California
"You're trying to keep alive a health infrastructure to assist people, and we are getting ready to spend $160 billion next year on a stupid war in Afghanistan. If we can't see that New Orleans is still suffering, if we can't see that New Orleans has a health-care infrastructure that is not adequate to meet the needs of people who are still recovering from the hurricane, if New Orleans has to come with a tin cup to beg for money for clinics... Our country is falling apart, and what's happening in New Orlenas is a signal condition of where America's priorites are totally fouled up."
Rep Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Saints & Seagal

There are two things impacting my life right now in a very positive way. The first of course is the 11-0 Saints. I believe tight end Billy Miller when he writes that the Saints are New Orleans. Miller documents the many less-than-stellar backgrounds of players that somehow together make up the best team in football. It's such an amazing story.

Second, did you check out Steven Seagal: Lawman on A&E last night? It's zen, tasers, car chases, martial arts, and yellow-tinted-sunglass-wearing-ass-kicking in Jefferson Parish. The best part is that Seagal has no idea how ridiculous he is. People in the New Orleans area are now trying to find new ways to get arrested in Jefferson Parish just in case superstar lawman shows up, puts his boot on our necks, and gives us a much deserved lesson in martial arts and hair gel.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Loup Garous Soccer Team Ends Season

The Loup Garous played a great playoff game on a swampy field to end their season tonight. We fell behind 4-2, and came back to tie the game. The other team, the Spartans, went ahead, 5-4, and we came back to tie it. The Spartans had a goal right at the end to win the game. It was a hard loss for many of our players. About half of our team shed tears just after the final whistle blew. It was a great game, very hard fought, and a great way to end the season. I'm so proud of all of our players.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Beer Four for Christmas

Since my re-entry into home brewing, I've made an ESB, a nutbrown ale, a satsuma witbier, and today I'm making a chocolate cherry stout for Christmas. It's to celebrate three things: Kalypso came in first place in her final cross-country meet of the season, Gilgamesh's soccer team won their second game, and today the Saints are going to move up to 9-0.

Grains: .5 chocolate, .25 roast barley, .25 victory (Steep 30 minutes at 150 degrees)
Hops: 1 oz Columbus (14.2%) full 60 minute boil, 1 oz K Goldings (4.9%) last 15 minutes
Malt: 2 lbs Briess Dried Malt Extract traditional dark, 3 lbs muntons dark malt
1/2 pound unsweetened chocolate
2 lbs Sweet Cherry puree in primary fermentation, 1 lb in secondary fermentation (Oregon fruit products)
Safale US-05 dry yeast

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Woo Hoo! Loup Garous!

The Loup Garous soccer team just won their first game of the season by a score of 6-1. Previously we had lost all six of our games, often by a large margin. As their coach, and as a competitive person, I was so terrified that we'd go all season without a win. Tonight Gilgamesh gets to choose the restaurant, and we're going out to eat to celebrate. We have one regular season game left and then we're in the playoffs. Great job team!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cheese Eating Who Dats Say "Viva Las Vegas"

I just read that Vegas oddsmakers pick the Saints as favorites to win the Superbowl. The odds are 3-1, and at 3-2, the odds are even better to win the NFC championship. This Sunday we'll be biking to the Super Dome with Chef Who Dat and the mustache krewe. The Saints' run defense is going to have their hands full. Kalypso will be joining me in section 327, and the Dome will be rocking, especially if my voice can finally heal from the screaming last Monday night. Yes, it is good to be a Saints fan these days.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Answer is C

A. Should I be more worried about this hurricane:


B. Should I be more worried about this gun violence last night near Xavier:


C. I should be worried about both.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SBS Death Makes No Sense At All

I'm proud to work at Xavier University of Louisiana, a school founded by St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. I've been very inspired by the work of the Sisters over the past 8 years that I've been at Xavier. This past weekend, for the first time in the history of their order, one of the sisters, Marguerite Bartz, was murdered in Gallup, New Mexico. My friend and colleague Sr. Mary Ann mentioned today that the order has a 118 year history of taking their important mission to some very violent neighborhoods in America, but nothing like this has ever happened. There are very few details about the crime at this moment. I shake my head in disbelief at this senseless tragedy.

Ed Blakely Uncovers Secret Plot of White People

Amazingly, former New Orleans Recovery Czar Ed Blakely, who is not a Caucasian, has uncovered the secret ambition laid out in this city by me and my fellow pasty-skinned crackers. Says Blakely: "Now, the white community, there's blood in the water, and they can recapture the political apparatus and kind of put their foot back on black people's throats." That was clearly my motivation when I voted against Nagin and Jindal in recent elections, aspirations of ruining the lives of my students, friends, and neighbors. Blakely also announced that there is an upcoming race war to be waged in this city. Blakely hasn't discovered the details yet, but to all of my Caucasian readers: it's going to start Mardi Gras morning and will be led by the King of Rex, with the first strike to take out Zulu. The key will be to disarm the krewe of coconuts. I'd give you more details about the exact time of the race war, but as all Caucasians know, Zulu's parade is often late. And of course, please don't share this information with anyone who is non-Caucasian, the rule still being that 1/8 non-white equals non-Caucasian.

Two more things: Blakely said the city of New Orleans won't be around in 100 years. Speaking for all white people, as is my custom, I can assure you that's not a Caucasian plot. It might have something to do with the masons and/or Hubig's pies. Finally, when me and my multi-racial neighbors rebuilt our city block by block, house by house, and fought so hard to make the city a better place, Blakely summarizes our herculean efforts thusly: “New Orleanians expected someone else to do it [rebuild city] all along…. They never expected to do it themselves.” He took our money, a lot of it, and then says he never believed in our recovery. Can't such megalomaniacs just fade away to Ayer's Rock and keep their mouths shut? A dingo ate my blakely. I wish.

Monday, October 26, 2009

God Answers My Prayers with a Saint's Tibia from an Alleged Prostitute

I was feeling emotionally and spiritually drained after the Saints amazing come from behind victory over the Dolphins yesterday. This morning I asked God for a little help, a sign. And then seconds later I read that Saint Mary Magdalene's tibia is touring around the U.S. and Saturday it will be at St. Anthony of Padua's church, very close to my house. Mary Magdalene has been linked to prostitution over the past 2,000 years; however, this is more legendary than historical, as there is nothing in the Bible or early historical sources that mention this. But back to God's sign for me, even more amazing, St. Anthony of Padua is only a block away from the Canal Street Brothel where Senator David Vitter hired prostitutes. This is historical, but I should point out, there is nothing in the Bible that condemns diaper fetishes with prostitutes named Wendy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Satsuma Witbier to Celebrate Saints

Satsumas are on sale, and we're playing the Dolphins today who wear orange on their jerseys. So I just made a satsuma witbier. This is the third batch I've made since I started homebrewing again on the 4th anniversary of the flood. The Katrina 4 year anniversary extra special bitter is great. My nut brown ale is bottled and almost ready to drink. And this satsuma beer should be ready for Thanksgiving if all goes well.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Threatening to Kill Presidents

Gregory Broussard of Louisiana was sentenced to a year in prison, and then another year in a half-way house and home arrest, because in 2008 he told a social worker in an emergency room that he intended to kill former president George W. Bush. But what about all of the people who are threatening to assassinate Obama? A few examples I've read about in the past year:

  • The New York Post cartoon that depicts a dead health-care reforming chimp shot by police officers.

  • These lovely kids on a schoolbus who chanted "assassinate Obama."

  • This newspaper in Pennsylvania which ran an ad to assassinate Obama.

  • The people who started the Facebook poll "Should Obama be killed?"
  • Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Dreaming of Werewolves and Alligators

    Four days ago I had the second scariest dream of my life. The scariest dream of my life came when I was about 6 years old. I dreamed I was in our backyard, and a werewolf came by and asked to see my siblings. I knew he wanted to eat all of us, so I lied, and then sprinted to the house. During this dream I was sleep running, as I came from my room in the basement to my parents' room upstairs, with the werewolf biting my leg as I dove onto my parents' bed.

    The second scariest dream is as follows. I was near a small area of water where two giant alligators were eating birds at the opposite end of the swamp, about 30 feet away from me. It was muddy and though I tried not to I gradually slid into the water. I couldn't get out. It was too slippery, and I needed help. Therese was nearby but she was talking to someone. I said "Therese, please, I need some help here." When I said that, one of the alligators turned its head as it noticed me and started swimming towards me. Therese continued her conversation ignoring me. I repeated "Therese, I really really need some help, this is very very important." Therese kept on with her conversation. I noticed the alligator was about 15 feet away at this point. I raised my voice and said loudly that I needed help from Therese. The alligator at this point dove under water. I screamed "Therese, I really need some help here!" Just as Therese was saying goodbye and noticing me in the water the alligator bit my leg.

    Butler University Sues Anonymous Student Blogger

    Jess Zimmerman, a junior at Butler University, is being sued by his school's administration for "libelous and defamatory statements" made about Butler's administration in a blog entitled "TrueBU Blog." The blog was removed earlier this year by Zimmerman. Butler's administration seem to suggest that the alleged crime here is that he was publishing his opinion pieces anonymously as "Soodo Nym." Zimmerman has chronicled his story at "I Am John Doe."

    As a non-anonymous blogger who at times questions decisions made by my university, I'm terrified that this sort of thing is happening. Due I suspect to the negative publicity this has generated for Butler, the president of Butler has recently said that they will not sue Jess Zimmerman, but the lawsuit has not been dropped.

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Do Vitter and Melancon Let Black People Use Their Bathrooms?

    Louisiana politicians, for good reason, have been rushing to call for the ousting of Louisiana justice of the peace Keith Bardwell in Tangipahoa Parish. Bardwell made national headlines by refusing to marry a white woman to a black man earlier this month because he believes that most interracial marriages end in divorce. The best part is when he stated "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way, I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else." The justice of the peace in question, is a Republican, so of course state democrats have loudly called for his termination. But here Republican leaders as well have voiced their opposition, including Governor Bobby Jindal.

    Why then has David Vitter said nothing? Could it be that he would purposely remain silent in hopes of a large racist turnout come election day in 2010? But then again come to think of it, his Democratic challenger Charlie Melancon has said nothing also.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Why Larry Csonka Will Cry On February 7th

    I didn't want to say anything, being the humble guy that I am, until the Saints dominated all three teams from the New York/New Jersey area. But after yesterday's 48-27 pounding over the Giants, I'm pretty sure now that the Saints are going to go undefeated this season. What will be especially sweet about this feat will be that the Super Bowl is in Miami, so if any of the 1972 Dolphins are still alive, they won't be able to have their annual champagne toast when the last undefeated team gets beat. Stay healthy old timers. And get comfortable in Miami this weekend Saints players. You'll be back down there in a few months. Who dat?

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Welcome Back to New Orleans, Mr Skinny President

    President Obama will be arriving in New Orleans in a couple of hours. He's scheduled to visit a charter school in the 9th ward, and then have a town-hall meeting at the University of New Orleans. Many are complaining that he'll be here just over three hours, or that he won't be visiting Mississippi or other areas hit hard along the gulf coast, or he won't bring enough of a spotlight to coastal erosion. Personally, I'm thankful he'll be here, and I am especially happy that Leah Chase is going to make sure he eats well. According to the Times-Picayune: "Because of the hurried nature of the trip no meals were built into his schedule.
    Worried about this, and knowing "how skinny" the president is to start with, Chase let it be known that she would love to put together a to-go order for him." Chase stated: "I know he likes gumbo, so there will be gumbo; I know he likes shrimp Creole so there will be shrimp Creole; I know he likes fried chicken, so there will be chicken."

    About a year ago I had the privilege of hearing Leah Chase speak at Xavier. I can't think of anyone better suited to prepare a meal for the president. Her cooking is the opposite of fast food, and embodies so much of what I love about New Orleans. Here's a plate she made for me one day not too long ago:

    Thursday, October 01, 2009

    Eat the Cheese, Saints Fans. Eat it!

    Coach Sean Payton says not to, but I can't help it. I plan on eating plenty of cheese between now and Sunday when the Saints return to the Superdome to beat the Jets and go 4-0 into their bye week.

    However, eating the cheese may not be the best prescription for every Saints fan, including Howie, as Reggie Bush astutely observed "if you eat too much cheese you may get sick ... especially if you're lactose intolerant.'' Because Howie will be sitting next to me in section 327 row 13 seat 11 on Sunday, and because at times he claims to be lactose intolerant, I'm hoping he keeps his cheese eating in check.

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Saints, Katrina, Jets, Twin Towers & A Question

    I had mixed emotions last Sunday when Fox Sports, during the Saints vs Buffalo football game, showed video of New Orleans under water four years ago. I believe it is important to let people across the country know that we still need help rebuilding. But at what point will we be able to watch a football game and not have to hear about Katrina? At the same time, my passion for the Saints is inextricably tied to my experiences during the flood and afterwards.

    We play the NY Jets this Sunday. Why is it appropriate to show our city under water after the federally maintained levees gave way, but not appropriate to show the twin towers collapsing?

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    An Update On My Life For A Friend In San Diego

    A very good friend of mine just asked me how me and my family are doing, and here is a slightly edited version of my response. Please note this is only for those very interested in me and my family, and will be a waste of time for the casual reader:

    Great to hear from you J. I'm busy this semester teaching with 4 preps for the first time in my life. I hate it. It's too much. I love teaching, love my students, but 4 preps is more than I can handle. I think I might apply for a sabbatical next year. But I work less hard at publishing these days, and spend more time with the family when I can. I used to work on Saturdays and Sundays, about 20 hours. Now I find myself just working for about 4 hours over the weekend. At one time I thought I could "publish my way out" of my university, but it never happened. I had always thought of myself as working at a division I research institution. I do like living in New Orleans overall, and overall I would say that me and my school are a very good fit. I have great colleagues in my department and elsewhere, and I love that our university's mission involves social justice. I guess that has become my new focus, trying to make the world a better place. But it is hard and perhaps foolish at times. Living in New Orleans is too far from my family in Nebraska though. Kalypso is a teenager. She's 14. It's good and bad. I'm just trying my best to keep her safe as she tries to distance herself from me, or get independent. She is interested and very gifted at piano and violin. Her ability to speak French is amazing. She went to an all French program grades K-4. You should see this video we made in Paris. Gil is great and at such a fun age. I'm his soccer coach, and I'm finding it challenging to communicate to 8 year old boys. He is very much into skateboarding and handstands. I wish that both of my children had more focus, but I'm very proud of them. Therese, as a school teacher, is overworked and doesn't have as much time for me and the kids as I would like, but she is doing very noble work in my opinion. Marriage isn't easy, we have to work at it, but I love her very much. Our dogs are getting older. I see them walking slower up the steps, much like me. We have a parrot who only mimics Therese's yelling at the kids. So as far as animals, we have two dogs, a sugar glider, a guinea pig, and I think that is it for now, but I'm never sure. I still think of my dad every day, even though he passed away 2 1/2 years ago. I wish my dad could see my children grow up. My mom is doing well, but I know it would be a much better world if she could see her grandkids more. We're going back for Christmas, but as usual, we spend about 5 days there is all. My mom unfortunately doesn't like to travel much, so she rarely comes to see us, which would be easier and cheaper. I don't see my brother and sister very often, but with email I keep in touch with them. This blog also keeps them up to date with our activities. I think you know I met my birth parents and my birth brother. I'm very thankful for that. I keep in very regular contact with my birth mother via email. I'm hoping to take Gilgamesh on an archaeological excavation next summer, just like I've done with Kalypso three times. Then after this summer I think I might want to take some time off from excavating and spend summers with the family. This summer I'll be digging a Midianite structure, Iron I, in Edom. I'm VERY much looking forward to that. I believe that this year is the Saints' year. I can feel it. I bought season tickets the day they signed Drew Brees. Now it's several years later. Reggie Bush has not lived up to potential, but we have such an amazing offense. It's quite a bit of fun, and a great distraction. The flood/levee failure, or as others call it, Hurricane Katrina, sadly still dominates my life. But not as much as it used to. And in many ways, it's for a positive return. I know my neighbors much better now, having all struggled to rebuild. My house is much nicer, but the mortgage and insurance are much higher. I feel older, much older than I did four years ago. I'm tired, but can't think of living anywhere else.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    Lions & Tigers & Loup Garous, O My!

    It's been a sports-filled weekend at the Homan house. Kalypso ran in her first cross-country event for the Lusher Lions at City Park. She ran two miles in 18:13, coming in 16th in a field of about 100.
    Then we had our first soccer game for the Loup Garous, with Gilgamesh playing and Therese and me coaching. I'm finding it is challenging to communicate to a group of 8 and 9-year-old boys, but fascinating at the same time. We were down 4-0 in the first two quarters, came back to tie it going into the final quarter, but we wound up losing 7-4. Luckily it was a practice game, and we learned quite a bit about positions.
    Then I watched the Huskers give away a game to Virginia Tech, the LSU Tigers struggle to beat an 2nd-rate team, and now I'm getting ready to watch the Saints play the Eagles. It's only the second game, but many are saying this game could well have playoff implications, as these two NFC predicted powerhouses might meet in the playoffs, and God knows we'd rather play at the Sacredome. One more picture:
    The Loup Garous Soccer Team 2009

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Homan's Saints Living a Fantasy

    For the first time in my life I'm in a fantasy football league at yahoo called "The Khanate of Football." My team consists of all Saints players, plus Bret Favre on the bench. So my fantasy football team isn't really much of a fantasy but rather, more of a fantastic reality. We're currently in second place. Here's the roster:
    QB-Drew Brees
    WR-Marques Colston
    WR-Lance Moore
    WR-Devery Henderson
    RB-Reggie Bush
    RB-Pierre Thomas
    TE-Jeremy Shockey
    BN-Robert Meachem
    BN-Billy Miller
    BN-Mark Brunell
    BN-Joey Harrington
    BN-Brett Favre

    K-John Carney
    BN-Garrett Hartley
    DEF-New Orleans

    Last Sunday Therese and I biked in the rain to join Dillyberto and Oyster for pregame rituals involving quail eggs in bloody marys. At the dome we got a very cool Lions voodoo doll from Howie's wife Shirley. The voodoo doll worked, as the Saints won 45-27. The next home game against the Jets we'll be hanging out with Chef Who Dat and the moustached cyclers. Who Dat!

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Holt Cemetery To Be Invaded by Archaeologists

    The American Schools of Oriental Research are holding their 2009 annual meeting in New Orleans at the Astor-Crowne hotel. On Wednesday, November 18th, 9AM-2PM, several of us will be working with Save Our Cemeteries at Holt Cemetery. We'll be surveying the grave markers and taking pictures to establish a database which will later be compared to pictures taken prior to the levee failures of 2005.

    Thus far 14 people have signed up, including moi, Howie Luvzus & Yo & Mo. If you are interested in hanging out with archaeologists at a cemetery, and hey, who isn't???, well then you should join us. More information on volunteering can be found on ASOR's blog. You don't need to be a member of ASOR to participate.

    Holt Cemetery Sepia
    Picture of Holt Cemetery taken today after rainstorm.

    Sunday, September 06, 2009

    Cars and Beer

    Therese was in a car wreck today. Luckily nobody was hurt. The car suffered some damage though:
    All of this reminds me that I need to keep drinking beer. By the way, I've been making progress on my Katrina Anniversary ESB. Here is the wort from last week:
    Here are the ingredients I used:
    3 lb liquid amber malt
    3 lb Mutons Light dried malt extract
    .5 lbs Crystal 80, .25 CaraPils, .25 lbs CaraRed, .1 lbs Chocolate (steeped 20 minutes)
    Kent Goldings Hops 1 0z 4.5% average alpha (last 15 minutes)
    Nugget Hops 1 Oz AA 13.7% Full boil 60 minutes
    Nottingham Brewing Yeast

    Today I transferred it from the primary fermentation glass carboy to the secondary one.
    In one week it will be ready for bottling.

    Friday, September 04, 2009

    America: The Greatest Show On Earth

    Bill Moyers has some very erudite comments on the current health care debate: (link).

    A First Amendment Weekend

    This weekend in Louisiana, while we still pay 9% tax on items such as food and school clothes for our kids, there will be no sales tax collected for guns (including assault rifles), ammunition, and even ATVs if you can show that you'll use it for hunting. What is even worse, the legislation is called "Second Amendment Weekend." We have State Senator Rob Marionneaux to thank for this remarkable legislation, and Governor Bobby Jindal, who signed it into law in July.

    The second amendment reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It says nothing about Jindal's right to recruit political support from northern Louisiana, or how to be the National Rifle Association's bitch.

    Perhaps they would consider a "First Amendment Weekend," where Jindal refused to use tax dollars to pay for his helicopter trips to distant Lousiana churches on Sundays. James Gil brilliantly sums up this breach of the separation of church and state.

    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    80% Recovered at Xavier

    This story reports that enrollment at Xavier University of Louisiana is at a post-Katrina high. We now have 3,330 students. Before Katrina we had 4,190. That's just under 80%, but seems like a healthy number. Next Spring we'll have the smallest graduating class I've seen in my 9 years here.

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Dry House Preferable, But Not Too Dry

    Four years ago today, this is what our house looked like.
    Our house is much better today, though the past four years have been difficult for so many of us.

    I'm sorry to hear about the fires in California. Hope not too many lose their homes, and those that do, I wish them the best as they rebuild their lives.

    Saturday, August 29, 2009


    Evil or not, the mayor gave a pretty good speech today on the 4th anniversary of the levee failure. I'll always remember his radio interview with Garland Robinette while the city was underwater. I remain grateful that the mayor was angry and emotional that day.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Making Beer on Katrina's 4th Anniversary

    I spent quite a bit of time researching planned commemorations around New Orleans to mark the 4th anniversary of Katrina this Saturday. I'll bike with the kids to the annual event at the Katrina memorial on Canal Street, it's not too far from our house. Bells ring from 9-10:30 AM to symbolically memorialize the moment when the various levees broke. After that, I thought about going to the Hands Around the Dome or the Second Line in the Lower Ninth Ward. I though about making a sign and standing in front of the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters. Instead, I think I'll stay at home and make some beer.

    I used to be an avid home brewer. I made a wicked IPA, a great nut brown ale, a solid ESB and some fun seasonal beers like pumpkin stout and Cubbies Curse (only my sister Chris knows about this). I also made batches of beers based on recipes from the ancient Near East. I published a few articles on the topic of ancient Near Eastern beer, the best two of which were "Beer and Its Drinkers: An Ancient Near Eastern Love Story in Near Eastern Archaeology and "Baking and Brewing Beer in the Israelite Household: A Study
    of Women's Cooking Technology" co-authored with my friend Jennie Ebeling in the book The World of Women in the Ancient and Classical Near East.

    But all of that was before the flood. I haven't made any beer since. Come to think of it, while New Orleans was flooded and I lived upstairs during the chaotic weeks of late August/early September 2005, the most dominant part of my diet consisted of warm beers that I had previously brewed. I even thought about living for a month with ancient homebrew as my only food source in order to prove that beer was a super-food, which it is and was, of course. I thought I could use the tragedy to benefit my academic field. My mind was a bit scattered back then. It wasn't too much home brew. It had much more to do with listening to the radio and hearing people panic because they were trapped in their house and soon to die. It had much more to do with seeing drowned people whom I had known and seeing families pulling elderly relatives in flotation devices to higher ground. It had much more to do with the complete breakdown of civilization, to seeing the Causeway Concentration Camp. That place could have used some home brew, to be sure.

    So today I learned that there is a homebrew shop called Brewstock that has opened on Oak Street. I used to frequent Brew Ha Ha on Magazine Street but they haven't been open since the flood. My home brewing equipment was on our second floor 4 years ago, and it survived, but has been packed away and stored under our house. Here is a picture of it taken minutes ago:
    So Saturday I plan on going to Brewstock and making a beer to commemorate a tragedy. Of course there is a long history of alcohol used to acknowledge death and disaster, from "Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (Isaiah 22:13) to gang bangers pouring out a 40 oz beer for dead homies. I think it will be healthy to commemorate the levee breach by doing something that will return my life to the way it was before the flood, to what people here call a "return to normal." I'll make beer and in about a month drink it, but still, not an hour of my life since August 29th, 2005 has transpired without thinking about Katrina and its tragedy. I remember so vividly after a windy night standing outside my house on August 29th at about 9 AM and speaking with my neighbors on a dry street about how we had "dodged the bullet." I'll make sure to give those neighbors one of my Katrina memorial beers.

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    New Health Care Commercials in Louisiana

    As an avid viewer of the national evening news, tonight I noticed a substantial increase in advertisements relating to the health care debate. I deduce that this is due to the announcement that "moderate" Democrat Mary Landrieu will play a large part in the final decision. The most disturbing angles in the commercials advertised that with the proposed health care reform, so many new people will need health care that there won't be enough doctors, so everyone will have to wait longer and old people will die. Then they advise people to contact Mary Landrieu and tell her to vote against health care reform. The other angle is to tell people that the country is going through hard financial times and we should wait to reform until we are more stable.

    I often am angry with this country, but sometimes I really detest it. The same people who brag about how this is the best country on earth vote against giving health care to all children. Most people are stupid, all people are greedy, insurance companies are evil, and many physicians and pharmacists chose their vocations due to economics and not empathy. But still, perhaps foolishly, I hope to live in a country where families don't have to declare bankruptcy due to illness, and where children born into poor families can still have preventative health care.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    Running Out of Time

    Classes start tomorrow for the Fall semester, and emotionally I am not yet ready to teach. I am not excited about this semester, I am not looking forward to seeing hundreds of 18 year olds who don't want to be in my class but have to because it is part of the core curriculum. I am dreading an 11:00 class where after 11:30 I'm sure I'll have plenty of student enter wearing headphones and sit in the back and then text for 15 minutes and then line up at 11:50 when the class is over so that they can ask me to count them as present and then they'll be angry because I'll tell them I only take roll at the beginning of class.

    But somehow between now and tomorrow I believe I'll find a better attitude and actually be enthusiastic about teaching. I continue to believe, perhaps naively, that teaching students at Xavier University of Louisiana about biblical studies and ancient Near Eastern religions is pretty important stuff.

    Rising Tide IV Highlights

    I had a very good time at the Rising Tide IV Conference on Saturday. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it a success. There were two highlights for me. The first was during a discussion about food and culture, and how food impacts us more here than it would in other cities. The panelist Susan Tucker was talking about obituaries, and how they often mention food here in New Orleans. One obituary in particular spoke about a resident's Muslim devotion and it went on to say that he never ate pork, unless it was in a Muffuletta sandwich. I thought that made quite a bit of sense and it made me proud to live here.

    Second, Harry Shearer spoke eloquently about how we in New Orleans lost the media battle about what happened here in August 2005. Four years after the city flooded, the rest of the nation and world believes that 80% of the city flooded because of a giant storm named Katrina, and not because of crappy levees built by the army corps of engineers. Shearer talked about how the modern news focused on emotion and not information. His talk was insightful but also depressing in that it doesn't seem New Orleans will ever have a quality levee system, one where we learn to live with water much like the system the Dutch have developed.

    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    Therese's Birthday Jackalope

    On this day, August 15th, some 43 years ago, Therese was born. To celebrate this anniversary the kids and I cleaned the house, got her some jewelry from Aqaba, and most important, we got her this birthday Jackalope. I have never owned a Jackalope, but as a fan of all things kitschy, I felt we needed to have at least one in the house. Happy birthday deer, I mean dear.

    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    My Uncle Owen's Memorial Service & The Battle of Kadesh

    I just returned from San Jose, where I attended the memorial service for my uncle, Owen Hawkins. He led a remarkable life, and like my dad, he passed away after a long battle with cancer. Owen was always very supportive of my mom and our family, and I'm sad too him go. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children. It was nice seeing so many of my relatives in California. The highlight for me was meeting my cousin Kim's new spouse, Mike Loades who is a historical weapons expert. He knows more about chariots than anyone I've ever met. At the reception, when I found out he shared my geeky love of ancient military history, we reenacted the Battle of Kadesh with chop sticks as the Orontes River, a cookie as Tell Kadesh, 4 salt shakers representing the Egytpian army divisions, and a couple of hidden pepper shakers representing the Hittites. Some of my relatives were impressed. Most were horrified.

    Checks for "Public" Charter Schools

    We just had to write a check for more than $700 to Lusher Charter School in order to cover Kalypso's "fees" for her first year of high school. These include test taking fees for advances classes, fees for being in an arts program at a school that is allegedly focussed on the arts, and various other expenses. This is of course on top of having to buy hundreds of dollars worth of supplies for the classroom, and having to write a check for Gilgamesh's "fees" as well. While we thankfully can afford these charges, many families can't, and I'm sad to see access to quality free public education slip away. Moreover, Lusher has a famous crawfish boil every spring, and I believe it is one of the largest fundraising events in the city. I wish Lusher was more transparent about how much money they raised and how they will spend the funds. But with the charter school model, salaries for administrators increase dramatically, while parents and teachers are asked to do considerably more work to keep the quality school running. Some parents such as ourselves fought pretty hard to get our kids into a quality "public" school like Lusher, and I've noticed with many Lusher parents a tendency to avoid complaining out of fear and other reasons. The feeling is that while our kids are there, we need to fully support the school. I need to do some research to find out if families at RSD schools need to write checks as well, and what happens if the parents are not able to provide the funds. Anyway, I sure wish K-12 education was a quality product entirely funded by taxes, but that is apparently crazy socialism talk.

    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    Yahweh's Edomite Hood

    Yahweh it turns out is a pretty popular deity, with more than half of the world's population worshipping him today. There are a couple of passages in the Hebrew Bible that seem to indicate a notion that Yahweh originally came from southern Jordan, or what was called Edom during the Iron Age. One example is Judges 5:4, one of the oldest poems in the Bible:
    "Yahweh, when you went out of Seir, when you marched out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water."

    I think you can learn quite a bit about a person by visiting their home. So it was nice to return to southern Jordan this summer, an area where I spent quite a bit of time in the late 90's. I very much enjoy walking around in the desert, and I don't find it surprising to read about so many people in history having encounters with Yahweh in the desert, including Moses, Jesus, Paul and Mohammad. Heck, even Billy Jack had religious experiences in the desert, though I don't think it was with Yahweh. Anyway, Yahweh's home is a beautiful, serene, and harsh environment. While I didn't hear Yahweh's voice, or even see a burning bush, it was a pleasant experience just the same. Plus, I'm glad God didn't appear to me and ask me to deliver any messages. I'm pretty busy getting ready for the Fall semester. Here is a picture of Yahweh's home, taken early one morning, and yes there is a bush there, but it wasn't on fire...

    Rising Tide IV

    Kalypso and I just registered for Rising Tide IV, an annual conference about "new" media, blogging, and rebuilding New Orleans after the levees failed. I'm looking forward to hearing the keynote speaker Harry Shearer.
    Rising Tide IV

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Out of the Loop and in the Wadi

    Kalypso and I are just about finished with our survey work in the Barqa area near Wadi Feinan, Jordan. About another week left. We're currently in Aqaba and will do some snorkeling later, but for me the big news is as follows: I just survived 25 days without internet, newspaper, television, radio or any media. I feared that my first contact with the outside world would reveal something like "President Biden declares war on Mexico". Luckily, that never happened. I also just went through more than 1,000 emails. We're looking forward to heading back to New Orleans on August 1st, but for now, we'll just have to keep walking around and looking for flint and pottery.

    Here are a few pics before I run, or swim as the case might be:
    First, a very angry camel. Can't get enough of the camels out here.
    Second, here is what the spectacular desert terrain looks like in our survey area. It was unusual for there to be clouds that morning.
    Third, here is Kalypso on a sand dune.
    Lastly, here is a picture of me and my team trying to figure out where to go survey next.

    Saturday, June 27, 2009

    Bonjour Paris

    Kalypso and I are in Paris trying to blend in with the locals.
    We've found Paris to be very expensive, so we tried to make some of what the locals call $ argent $ by playing French music near the Eiffel Tower. It didn't work, so we tried to pretend that I had Tourette's Syndrome. Still no money from the stingy Parisians. Sacre Bleu! Watch and learn mes amis:

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    Back to Jordan

    Kalypso and I are heading off to Jordan. Tomorrow we fly to Paris where we'll stay for a few days, and then we're off to Jordan. We'll be joining some old friends in the south of Jordan conducting an archaeological survey in the Wadi Barqa. Haven't been in Jordan for about 10 years, and can't wait to get back. It's such a magical place.

    Saturday, June 06, 2009

    Jury Duty, Wasps, and Allegations of a Supreme Court Nominee's Racism

    Jury duty is finally over, thank God. It was emotionally draining and I continue to think about the ramifications of the verdicts upon which I voted. We were asked to make decisions after being presented with a very limited amount of information. We could ask no questions, and we couldn't even take notes. Moreover, I don't have much confidence in the idea that people are tried by a jury of their peers. I vividly remember being in the jury pool room and suddenly the entire room broke into applause. Turns out some guy had spun some wheel on the game show Price is Right and he won $1,000 or something. I wouldn't want game show fans to decide my fate. Also, the worlds that I heard about while serving on juries, a world where children have access to drugs and guns on a daily basis, where friends and family are lost to gun violence, I don't consider myself a peer to people from that world. I can empathize but I have no idea about the hard realities of that life. The experience reminded me of Aristophane's famous comedy Wasps, where the elder Philocleon gains pleasure from bringing guilty verdicts on the younger generation. However, I gained no pleasure.

    My bad experiences on jury duty also make me think of the controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. She said in a previous speech "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Some have called her a racist for this statement. But I agree with her. Her experiences would make her better suited than me to judge others from that background. I by no means am advocating separate courts for separate classes, but I would argue that there needs to be diversity on all levels of the judicial system.

    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    Hurricane Party & Anniversary & Celebration

    June 1st if the beginning of hurricane season, but it's also the day Therese and I got married back in 1991. Moreover, tomorrow we're celebrating the promotion and reception of tenure of my good friend Mark Gstohl. Come by to celebrate anytime after 5 PM. 215 S. Alexander Street. Kids are welcome, and we'll have Woody the oyster shucker/SUCKER, red beans and rice (it's Monday), crawfish Kalypso, plenty of beer, wine, booze, and assorted things that most of America would frown upon. The more fun we have, the less likely we are to flood. Any questions can be directed to my cell phone, 504 377 7284. See you soon.

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    Sticking My Saints Neck Way Out There

    Reports from the Saints training camp tell of a new attitude with the Saints defense under the leadership of Greg Williams. Like many Saints fans, I have been more than frustrated with the play of cornerback Jason David. He's currently listed on the second team, and he's broken so many hearts so many times giving up the big play that I couldn't believe he's still on the roster. But what if, and this is a big what if, but what if Jason David has a great year due to better pass rush and linebacker containment. With the return of their explosive offense and what seems to be the skeleton of a good defense, I've got a good feeling about 2009 at this early date. Hope springs eternal.

    Bart's Bike Trail

    Congratulations to Bart Everson, president of the Friends of Lafitte Corridor. I just heard that the Louisiana Legislator's budget has allocated $2.6 million for the trail. The goal is to be able to bike/walk from Armstrong Park to City Park along an abandoned rail line. My family and I will be marching in the 5th annual Hike of the Lafitte Corridor. Fee free to join us.
    Here's a picture of the hike in 2006:

    Funeral Shift

    I've noticed lately that the funerals I attend have changed. It used to be that friends of my parents were passing away. Such is the case with my Uncle Dick, who passed away last week. He was my dad's younger brother. That generation of Homan siblings has gone from four down to one. We are driving to Nebraska to attend his funeral on Monday. I have many fond memories of him, as his family had a cabin on the Platte River very close to our cabin. I mostly remember him laughing. He had a great laugh, and very kind eyes. But gradually these types of funerals have been replaced with funerals for friends and people my age. Such is the case with the wife of a Xavier colleague who passed away last week. She was one of the kindest people I know, and her passing after a long battle with cancer seems pointless. Next week Therese will be attending the funeral of a Lusher Middle School student, someone she used to teach just a few short years ago. That just makes me angry. At the age of 43, I am now entering the age at which people stop saying "He died way too young" and entering the realm of "He led a full life." Like King Gilgamesh realized 5,000 years before me, death sure sucks.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009


    Usually I'm cynical about such things, but how could this not be destiny? Six bars, six beers, six miles. I've been training my whole life for two of those three things. Therese has vowed to beat me. We shall see...

    Jury Duty Weighs Heavily

    On Tuesdays and Thursdays in May, I report at 8:30 AM to Broad and Tulane where I check in to the jury pool at the Orleans Parish criminal court. I have never been asked to do jury service prior to this. Twice I have gone through the Voir Dire process, and last week I was chosen to sit on a jury during a criminal trial for a young man charged with possession of heroin and possession of a firearm by an ex-con. The trial lasted two days, and when we deliberated, I spent several hours convincing the other jurors that the accused was in fact guilty, and that the police were not setting him up. In the end we handed down a guilty verdict for the heroin charge, and the jury was one vote shy of a guilty verdict on the firearm, so in essence we were "hung."

    I feel bad for the young man who will no doubt return to prison, a place where he has spent several years already. I am upset with him for putting me in the position to have to decide his fate. He has clearly made some poor choices. On the other hand, he has grown up in a world that is very foreign to me, a world where guns and drugs and violence are commonplace. I am also upset with the system. Juries are asked to make decisions without being privy to important factors in the case. I would have liked to have asked several questions to both the defense and prosecution. In the end it was like we were given a few glimpses into the events that transpired but we couldn't have access to everything. So I played a key role in sending another young African American man to prison in New Orleans, where we have more people locked up per capita than anywhere else in the world. I feel bad about that. I would feel worse perhaps if worked to free the defendant and then one day read about him hurting someone at a future date. That's a lot of speculation, I realize, and probably shouldn't be relevant. People can change.

    I was happy to be excused from the jury yesterday. I believe I was excused as I stated I had previously served on a jury that did not reach a guilty verdict. Fine by me. I report again for the fourth time tomorrow, and then I'll be half-way finished.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Why It's Important to Live in Retarded States Like Louisiana

    I've been busy and mentally drained with jury service, but I wanted to bring up three recent decisions by legislatures in our state capital that have me upset but at the same time thankful that I live on the front lines of the battle for the soul of America.

    First, the House passed a bill with the margin of 77-18 that the state of Louisiana will not issue birth certificates for adopted children born in Louisiana that list the names of two parents if they are unmarried. Read: screw you gay couples. Of course Governor Bobby Jindal supports this legislation. I was adopted, and this bill is mean spirited and will hurt children. It will hurt the kids later on when they need health care or admittance into hospitals and schools. Great job mean people.

    Second, the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice passed a bill that would allow concealed handguns on university campuses by those with permits. Again, great job reps. Jindal supports this also, of course. How about this, allow guns in the House, Senate, and Capital building in Baton Rouge. Of course you do what the NRA says, will you go this far?

    Third, a Louisiana Senate Panel voted to outlaw the creation of mutant hybrids of humans and other animals, such as some of my heros including Ratboy, Molepeople, and the wee "help me, help me" dude in The Fly. So much for my mermaid fantasy.

    Sunday, May 10, 2009

    Happy Mother's Day

    Happy Momma's Day to all the moms out there. Here at the Mishkan we took our mother Therese to see Star Trek on the imax screen. Pretty cool flick. Now we're cleaning and thinking about what to cook for dinner.

    Monday, May 04, 2009

    Neil Young's Parents

    We had a great time at Jazzfest. I was able to go with Kalypso and Gilgamesh on Friday and Sunday. On Sunday, a real highlight for me was seeing Neil Young. As you can see, it wasn't such a highlight for my kids. For much of the set Kalypso was sleeping and Gil was playing Pocket God with my iphone.
    Anyway, in many years when Neil Young is dead, they'll claim they were interested. Maybe it was a result of all of the second hand marijuana, but while Neil Young was playing Old Man I started thinking he sure looked a lot like the Predator. Then during Keep On Rockin' in the Free World he looked more like a Wampa. But with his smirk, sideburns, rock-star-glasses and gray balding head I'm sure he's related to Jack Nicholson. Here's my best attempt at a family tree:

    Sunday, May 03, 2009

    Jane Jacobs Walk

    Yesterday, in honor of Jane Jacobs, there were walks in urban areas all over the country. Several took place in New Orleans. We joined one that went from the Odd Fellow's Cemetery to the Long Vue Gardens along the Metairie Ridge. We had a great time.

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Graceland En Route to St Louis & Back

    Over the weekend we drove to St. Louis to celebrate my Uncle Greg and Aunt Margaret's 40-year-wedding anniversary. I haven't seen them in many years, and most of my relatives there had never met Gilgamesh. We had a great time. Here's the whole group with Greg and Margaret seated in the center:
    Along the way we stopped in Memphis to see Graceland, Cape Girardeau to see the river mural, and then at the St. Louis Arch.
    I had been to Graceland about 10 times before, mostly when I was in my 20's. I think it does a great job of representing America, for better or for worse. It's one of the few places I can hang out and feel pretty thin.

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Quetzalcoatl and Jesus and 2012

    It was Apocalyptic literature day in my Intro to Biblical Studies class. We got to talking about this popular theory that the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 because of the Mayan calendar. Supposedly this winged serpent deity Quetzalcoatl is going to come back and wreak havoc. It's all baloney, but it will be fun. My students can be very superstitious.

    I've been doing some research on Quetzalcoatl. Turns out Mormons believe that Mayan descriptions of Quetzalcoatl are really talking about Jesus who was visiting the Americas way back when. The Latter Day Prophet John Taylor writes "The story of the life of the Mexican divinity, Quetzalcoatl, closely resembles that of the Savior; so closely, indeed, that we can come to no other conclusion than that Quetzalcoatl and Christ are the same being."

    Me, well no offense, but I sort of don't see the connection. Perhaps a visual aid might help distinguish the two for the prophet Taylor.

    Here are two pictures, this one is Jesus:

    Here is another picture. This one is the winged serpent deity Quetzalcoatl.

    Sure they both have fingers sticking up on their right hands, but I think they're two totally separate dudes. And finally, I'm pretty sure neither one is showing up on earth just a few days before Christmas in 2012. At least I hope not. Anyway, I plan on coming up with a brilliant scheme to cash in on the upcoming Quetzalcoatl immanent doom event. Maybe a special Jesus arrow to defeat the Mayan god???

    Archbishop Hughes Boycotting Xavier's Graduation

    Today we learn that Archbishop Hughes will be boycotting Xavier's graduation because of his disapproval of our choice of Donna Brazile as the graduation speaker. Here's a link to Hughes' letter to Xavier president Norman C. Francis. I think it's a fairly well written letter, but I'm troubled by the 2004 document which declares that Catholic institutions "should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." Do they think that all future speakers at Catholic universities need to be pro-life? Hughes also points out that "contraceptive practice actually leads men to be less responsible toward women." Are we to believe that women are treated with more respect in societies that don't have access to birth control?

    I can't wait until June, when this graduation speaker/abortion issue will be but a memory. Mostly I see the vocal disdain for graduation speakers such as Brazile and Obama as keeping conservative Catholic donors happy, so it's about money, and also it's a wedge issue used to attract media attention. Sadly that part is working. May 17th in South Bend is going to be a circus.

    What It Takes to Miss Jazzfest

    We're driving to St. Louis Friday the celebrate the 40-year-wedding-anniversary of my aunt and uncle. I haven't seen some of these relatives in quite some time. Amazingly, my aunts and uncles and cousins have never met Gilgamesh. If we weren't doing that, we'd be celebrating the 40-year-priesthood-anniversary of our dear and favorite priest, Phillip. And if we weren't doing that, we'd be going to Jazzfest. Sadly, Therese will be in Chicago next weekend, so this year she won't get to go to Jazzfest at all. Me on the other hand, I plan on going every day next weekend.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Is Catholicism A One Issue Religion?

    When I first heard that Donna Brazile was going to be the featured speaker at Xavier University of Louisiana's commencement, I was thrilled. I'm a big fan of hers. But trouble is brewing. Several Catholic news organizations, including, are critical of the choice. Notice the headline: "Pro-Abortion Political Activist to Speak at Xavier University."

    The article goes on to state that Xavier University of Louisiana is Jesuit, which its not, and then it quotes Patrick Reilly, the President of the Cardinal Newman Society (the group trying to get Obama banned from Notre Dame): “Given New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ strong condemnation of Notre Dame’s honor of pro-abortion President Barack Obama, it is surprising and saddening that Xavier University would honor a prominent figure opposed to Catholic moral teachings."

    While I have never met Donna Brazile, I will go out on a limb and claim that she doesn't advocate abortion. I've never met anyone who did. Instead, Brazile supports a woman's right to choose. And not one of our graduates and none of our faculty are in total compliance with Catholic moral teachings, so why focus obsessively on this one issue? I for one thought the Pope would have been better suited to talk about the problems of poverty on his recent trip to Africa instead of trying to abolish condoms.

    So outspoken Catholic moral dogma idealogues, where were your protests back in 2001 when George W. Bush was Notre Dame's commencement speaker? Or do things like advocating war and capital punishment no longer go against the realm of Catholic moral teachings?

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Washing Feet on Craigslist

    First a little background: Rahab is a biblical prostitute mentioned in Joshua 2 and James 2:25, and biblical authors at times used the word "foot" as a euphemism for a penis (e.g. Isa 6:2; 7:20), and certain passages use the expression "Wash your feet" to describe sexual intercourse. Such appears to be the case in 2 Samuel 11, where David tells Uriah to go to Miss Bun in the Oven Bathsheba and "wash your feet" so he'll believe the ensuing pregnancy was caused by said "foot washing" and the real father David will be off the hook.

    Fast forward 3000 years and we're in class today talking about the Letter of James chapter 3 which translates: "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." Some students took this further explaining that an education brings with it greater responsibility. I said "Yeah, like the media is having a field day with the fact that the Craigslist Killer suspect is supposed to be med student." Well one student didn't know what Craigslist was, amazingly, and so we talked about that, and even a little bit about the erotic section of Craigslist through which the killer found his female victims. Students explained that prostitutes couldn't advertise prostitution, instead they advertised legal things like massages. Then one of my best students said it was as if Rahab would advertise "foot washing."

    I was so proud.

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Shut Down Comments on

    Another tragedy has been unfolding these past two days in New Orleans. Two 19-year-old college students were kidnapped early Sunday morning, and just now we're learning that their dead bodies have been discovered only a few blocks from my office. The story recently appeared on, and as of now there are 78 comments. Many of them are posted by racists claiming all sorts of ignorant and hateful conclusions in the aftermath of this tragic death. While I'm an advocate for freedom of speech, I don't believe these jerks need such a large forum, a forum they haven't created but one which they leach onto. Please join me in emailing the editor of,, and ask them to take the comments down and not give their anonymous readers the opportunity to post hateful and ignorant comments on stories such as this.

    I hope none of the victims' loved-ones ever have to read such vitriol.

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Holy Peeps Monster Fails to Stop Buckmoth Caterpillar Plague

    Like Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, New Orleans is plagued this time of year. But we don't have bloody rivers or frogs--we should be so lucky; instead we suffer stinging buckmoth caterpillars, or Hemileuca maia as I like to call them when I've been drinking. Here is a picture of the evil beast:
    Because it's Passover, and because it's Holy Saturday, and because I'm the patriarch of a family of evil geniuses, today we decided to not take this plague passively. So we purchased the Caterpillar Kryptonite: Peeps:
    Knowing full well that one peep would not survive a buckmoth caterpillar attack, Gilgamesh and Kalypso set to work combining the strongest elements of each Peep into a SuperPeep, sort of like Steve Austin, Frankenstein's Monster, and Robocop all in one. Here is our evil Easter laboratory:
    Using pink chick peeps as feet was a no brainer, but then we went for yellow bunny body legs, with blue earless bunnies for the midsection. That was the evil genius part. Nobody would have ever thought of that. Muhaha!
    In the end SuperPeep had three heads, a purple one, a yellow one in the middle, and on the other side, a blue head. In his right marshmellow hand he held an evil umbrella, in his left, a magic toothpick of insect death.
    We brought the caterpillar to the Easter battle basket:
    Instantly the caterpillar sprang to the jugular vein of the purple head on the peeps right, the caterpillar's left. The head came right off.
    I know all about "science", so we all took detailed notes in a scientific journal.
    We had to write fast though, because in 30 seconds the whole thing was over. There were peep parts everywhere. It was a horrifying marshmellowy carnage, though the smell was pleasant enough and reminded me of shmores minus the chocolate and graham.
    So the caterpillar won this round, but we'll study our notes and be ready next year. As a bonus, what better pedagogical tool could anyone think of to better explain to my children the true meaning of Easter. That is of course if the Peeps tomb is empty tomorrow.

    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    Return I Will to Old Brazile

    I was happy to learn that Donna Brazile will be giving the keynote address at Xavier's graduation ceremony on May 9th. She's a native New Orleanian with a giant brain and such amazing political experiences. But gasp, she's a pro-choice Catholic, and Archbishop Alfred Hughes has been making a lot of waves complaining about pro-choice Obama speaking at Catholic Notre Dame's graduation. Mind you, Hughes appeared perfectly fine sharing the stage with Obama when he addressed Xavier graduates in 2006. But if it comes to Brazile v. Hughes fist-a-cuffs on the graduation stage, nobody need fear for the students' safety, because Forest "Ghost Dog" Whitaker will also be getting an honorary degree, and he's a freakin' Samurai.

    Sunday, April 05, 2009

    The Loss of a Farmer's Wife

    A good friend of mine in Nebraska, whom I met when my father was ill, just lost his wife. He farms in rural Nebraska, and last night they had a blizzard that cut power. Blizzards this time of year involve very wet and heavy snow, and it often breaks power lines. His wife had been ill for quite some time, and needed a constant supply of oxygen. With the power out due to the blizzard, her oxygen machine quit working, so they used oxygen bottles while my friend went to get his brother's generator. On the way he got his truck stuck in a snowbank, but somehow he got the generator to their house. They got the generator started but the electrical output was sporadic, and wound up frying circuit breakers and light bulbs. Moreover the snow kept blowing into the circuits and shorting out. Around 4 AM his wife began having difficulty breathing and she passed away shortly thereafter. Much has changed since Willa Cather wrote about Nebraska, but I'm reminded of the harsh conditions farmers face even today on the Great Plains. My prayers are with my friend, and his son, and the rest of their family. I know the poor woman suffered for so many years, and in the words of my friend she "is at peace," but death of a loved one is always a tragedy. RIP S.K.

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    Uncle Mike

    Henry Stewart Fitzpatrick recently joined the world, and I'd like to welcome him to earth and offer my congratulations to my brother-in-law Craig and his wife Jennifier. They live in New York city. Maybe I'll call him "Yankee Henry" when he gets older.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    Katrina Compared to Every U.S. Flood for the Rest of My Life

    First, why I hate America...
    Fargo is still on the verge of massive flooding and my prayers are with those people. But today I discovered that Neal Boortz is comparing Fargo's Red River to New Orleans' Katrina. Says Boortz: "Let's keep some score. Let's see how well the residents of Fargo handle this disaster vs. the residents of New Orleans. The parasite quotient in New Orleans gives a huge lead to the denizens of the frozen north. I'm guessing that three and one-half years from now you will not see many Fargo residents living in motels as guests of the taxpayers."
    What is worse is the comments below. Seems people really hate New Orleans and feel no guilt about the way the government handled this situation. And this blaming New Orleanians is the same thing that happened when Iowa flooded, with Rush Limbaugh characterizing us as whiners, rapists, and murderers, while Iowa and Illinois represented "the backbone of America."

    This same comparison will happen with every flood for the rest of my life. If your city does better than New Orleans did during our flood than congratulations, but you really ought to set your standards higher. Then there is the apples to oranges comparison due to historical and social context, but that is far too complicated to impact the uncurious.

    Second, why I have hope for America...
    After the University of Iowa campus flooded, students at my school raised money for their campus. Students at my school also spent their Spring Break in Galveston helping to gut homes after Hurricane Ike. Plus I've met many of the thousands of Americans who have come to New Orleans these past 3 years to help us rebuild.

    To the people of Fargo, I can assure that the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are thinking about you and hoping for the best. And if you flood, we will help you in any way we can.

    2 Cool Things

    My life is dramatically better today because I wisely purchased two products to change the quality of my life.

    Exhibit A is this Indiana Jones Voodoo Doll keychain I just got from Geek World:

    Exhibit B is a swim-suit clad buxom rubber chicken with bunny ears. It honks when you squeeze it, our dog Kochise both hates it and loves it, and I call it "Therese." We got it at Petcetera on Magazine Street, and I see they sell it online. They call it the Playbunny Chicken: