Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Southerners Without Accents

The website AmIAnnoying.com had this to say about North Carolina native son Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"):

He's a Southerner without a trace of a Southern accent (therefore he must be at least a little pretentious).

A few months ago, gentle reader/actor Cajun Boy was turned down for a role because a casting director said his imitation of a Cajun accent was inaccurate. Now, given Caj's origins in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, my guess is that he nailed the accent perfectly. As for me, when I started law school in St. Louis, some of my new friends asked where my Cajun accent was. I didn't feel like explaining that 1) my ancestors were from England and Scotland, and the British were the historic oppressors of the French-Canadian Acadians, so it would be most odd for me to have a Cajun accent; 2) people in other parts of Louisiana have other Southern accents--and then there's New Orleans, with it's own unique speech sounds; and 3) I grew up in Oklahoma, which is only kinda sorta in the South, though my parents were from Louisiana. So I said I just never acquired a Southern accent, which is probably all I should have said in this post.

There are some prominent individuals from the South who lack accents. Faux news commentator/presidential candidate Stephen Colbert (South Carolina); Fox news commentator Shepard Smith (Mississippi); hot actress Reese Witherspoon (Tennessee); and scorching hot actress Mary Louise Parker (South Carolina) come to mind. Some of them probably never acquired an accent; others probably worked at ridding themselves of theirs.

I think we Southerners Without Accents need to band together. Sure, we're humble men and women of the people just like everyone else, and not pretentious in the least, but we don't sound like the other people in our community. Perhaps we should have annual meetings at each others' yacht clubs and listen to each others' melodious, unaccented, speaking voices.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Other Game in Town

The New Orleans Hornets had their return-to-town rally in the park across the street from my office at noon today. It was nicely done, with free food, the Rebirth Brass, a parade, attractive cheerleaders, and NBA players singing "I Believe I Can Fly" while making airplane-wing arm motions. I took my cellphone over and snapped a few photos.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Haunted House

We wil be visiting the Haunted Mortuary later this week. I have a disturbing tendency to laugh at these kinds of things while others scream. It should be fun.

ETA: We made it out of the mortuary alive last night. It is very nicely done, and the setting is an old funeral home next to a group of cemetaries. There are a number of neat little tricks; my favorites being the dining room table that sprung open to have a ghost pop out and a rusty old toilet that sprayed water on some of the other visitors while I stood there laughing. The house had a few unnerving collapsed tunnels made of fan-blown fabric that we had to push our way through; the small girl behind me was truly terrified. The strobe lights and fake corpses were nicely designed, and the live actors timed their jumps and screams to scare the crap out of the more vulnerable-looking visitors in the group. I noticed that DW was targeted by one or two of those actors, but she only flinched once. DW was almost disappointed by the absence of one absolutely necessary element of any haunted house, then the guy with the chainsaw jumped out from an alcove as we were walking through the final passageway. The Mortuary is a job well done.

As we were driving home, I was amused once again that the parking lot of Slidell's local strip club is clearly visible from I-10. I used to look over to see if I recognized anybody's car over there. I never did, but the thought that a divorce or two might have been caused by that parking lot's placement has always struck me as funny. At least the porn store next door is situated such that one has to park out front of the leather/marijuana paraphernalia/cigar store and walk around back. Anybody whose car might be seen in that lot could be doing something entirely respectable.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It happened again!

Yesterday, DW and I attended our boys' planning conferences for the upcoming year. They're doing very well on their objectives, and we're confident that they will continue to achieve the goals that have been established for them.

On the way home, we stopped off in Lecompte, Louisiana, at the regionally renowned Lea's Lunchroom, which has dubbed itself the Pie Capital of Louisiana. As we were walking in, DW pointed at the sky to our south. Down somewhere around Bunkie or Cheneyville, there was a single beam of light shining through the clouds and, evidently, down to the ground. Last week's experience with beams of light convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt that we were observing another apparition. However, I wanted a slice of pecan pie, so I went inside the restaurant instead of jumping right back into the car and driving down to the sacred site.

Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, is rural, and much of the land is devoted to cotton cultivation, so I am assuming that that any apparition occurred in a cotton field somewhat like the one pictured above.

This is not a cotton field, but it's the best representation I could find in a two minute google search of an apparition by light beam, or, if you prefer, by a pillar of light. Coincidentally, this happens to be a representation of the most famous vision I learned about in Sunday School. Anyhow, someone in that Avoyelles Parish cotton patch must have had a vision somewhat like this one.

My source in the Vatican Apparition Investivation Agency tells me that it went down something like this. Jeanne d'Arc decided to appear next to her statue in New Orleans' French Market to proclaim the truth of the Sacred Feminine, and Mary Magdalene's status as the true Holy Grail. St. Jeanne, however, was either rusty on her apparating skills, or she wanted to pick up a pie at Lea's. In either event, she ended up in a cotton field.

My source tells me that St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of the Opus Dei, had been embroiled in a long-running controversy with St. Jeanne and other feminist saints over the issue of the Sacred Feminine. St. Josemaria discovered St. Jeanne's plan to travel to New Orleans, and he hatched a plot to stop her from ever making her proclamation. Josemaria had the Opus Dei headquarters send interception teams to every town in Louisiana and Mississippi, in the event that St. Jeanne appeared. The team in Avoyelles Parish was ready and waiting when she appeared in the cotton patch. The team quickly re-embodied St. Jeanne by sprinkling her with Katrina water. Once she was in her physical body, the Opus Dei team quickly stabbed her to death and placed her body parts in three hefty bags. The bags were flown to Rome, and the body parts will be placed under various buildings in that city. The clues to finding those body parts will be embedded in a childrens' television program on Nick Jr., in which a dog leaves clues for a man-child and his audience to figure out various puzzles. Dan Brown will write a novel about the whole story and make lots of money.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ave Maria

Last Sunday's apparition of Our Lady of the Lake on the lawn of the state capitol has proved accurate. Congressman Bobby Jindal was elected governor yesterday, with 54% of the votes. His closest rival came in at 18%. I watched the returns online, as LSU defeated Auburn with a Hail Mary pass as time ran out. Well, technically, it may not have been a Hail Mary, but it sure was dramatic.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Weekend Fun

I tried using the video-uploading tool, but I got a couple of those squares with the little red "x" in the corner, so I'm using still photos instead.

You know, a lot happens in an elevator, and I'm not just talking about people doing things on a dare in tall structures like the Sears Tower or Empire State Building. Any of you gentle readers who may have done such things, did you get away with it?

I would never have broken it all down until I watched my son, T, obsessing on the elements of elevators. You push a button, and a light comes on either on the button itself of on a symbol immediately above or below it. When the car arrives, a light goes on outside of it to alert you to its presence. The doors open, and, usually, a light dings on either immediately inside the car or on the wall above it to let you know which direction it will be going. You get inside and push the button for the floor you want, turning on another light. The doors close, and the ride starts. Usually, a light dings on inside giving you the direction, and the numbers ding on and off as you pass the various floors. Finally, the doors open, and a light dings on indicating in what direction the car will go next.

T's other obsession right now is shopping carts. He also likes to listen to store intercoms. Those two came together nicely for me Saturday night, when T wanted to go to Academy Sports. He pushed a cart around the store as I listened to LSU's three overtime periods with Kentucky over the intercom. Alas, LSU lost, but it was an interesting way to listen to the game.

My younger son, A, was a bundle of laughs on Sunday afternoon. He had a great time at St. Mary's over the weekend while T. was down here. There was a lot going on, and A enjoyed all of it. He was very fun to be around on Sunday. A is developing quite a fun, mischeiveous personality, as T has become more serious and analytical about the things he likes.

Killers Anonymous?

This season of "Dexter" is turning out to be more of a guilty pleasure than last season was, to the extent you feel guilty about laughing out loud at dark comedy done to perfection. The most recent episode, "An Inconvenient Lie," is a perfect case in point. Dex's girlfriend Rita, convinced that he is addicted to heroin, coerces him into a 12-step NarcAnon program. Dex's first sharing moment is so stereotypical that one of his fellow attendees asks whether he downloaded it from "addict.com." The two have a conversation, during which she describes the Urge in such fabulously seductive detail that he has to leave. We don't know her addiction yet; we know his is killing people. Dex's next sharing moment at NarcAnon is absolutely honest, except that everybody else in the room believes that his "dark passenger" is a compulsion to use drugs. He also reveals, for the first time, something that viewers of the show know already--that Dex the monster is becoming fully human for the first time in his life. Michael C. Hall pulls off Dex's poignant moment of truth perfectly, and the moment that follows with human bloodhound Sgt. Doakes brings us back to dark comedy done right. Dexter's "inconvenient lie" turns out to be most convenient, as he ends up with 1) a forum in which he can, risk-free, explore truths about himself; 2) his girlfriend appeased; and 3) Doakes no longer following him so he's free to go about the business of killing people. Oh, and nice play on Al Gore's book title.

Monday, October 15, 2007

King Arthur Revisited?

DW and I were driving across the Basin Bridge yesterday, and the sky ahead of us was such that it appeared as if a single beam of light was shining down on Baton Rouge. DW suggested that it might be an apparition, and I came up with the idea for the following story:

Once upon a time, a young man named Bobby Jindal visited the State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, towards the end of a long campaign for Governor. He walked onto the lawn to pay respects at the grave of Louisiana’s secular saint/ruthless dictator Huey P. Long. A beam of light shone down from the heavens, and the statue of Long was transfigured into Our Lady of the Lake. Young Bobby knelt reverently, and Our Lady began to speak.

Our Lady: Thou art Bobby, in whom Our Father is well pleased.

Bobby: I am Bobby, though I am called Piyush by the local Democratic Party, so as to suggest that people of fairer complexions should not vote for me.

Our Lady: Tsk, tsk. Thou art not judged by the color of thy skin. Unless thou liveth in Jena, which thou dost not.

Bobby: What message dost thou bear, oh Holy Mother?

Our Lady: I cannot speak in the presence of those who art knowing one another under a bush. What is it with these grounds? This place doth appear as the mens' room in the Minneapolis airport soundeth like. Canst these people rent a room?

Bobby: Hey, you guys! Show a little respect!

Two men stand, pull up their pants, and run off.

Our Lady: Bobby, I bear good tidings. Thou hast been called to govern this State of Louisiana, and, if thine poll numbers art accurate, thy calling shalt be confirmed on this Saturday hence.

Bobby: Thank you, Holy Mother. But why are you here?

Our Lady: There is much to be done. Thou must build up this state from its state of decay and make sure they do a better job building levees around here. Thou shalt bring new businesses into the state, other than ginormous sporting goods stores on the edges of thy capital city. Thou shalt smite those who hold office for the benefit of themselves and their friends. Thou shalt transform New Orleans into a shining city on a hill. Thou shalt moderate the less tolerant amongst thy fellow Republican political travelers. Thou shalt . . .

Bobby: Those are big things. I mean, I have a platform and I'm really smart and all, but how are you sure I’ll get it all done? And there aren’t any hills in New Orleans. And how am I going to make that city shiny, other than working with that garbage collector from down in da Parish that all the women want to take off their clothes for?

Our Lady: Do not worry. Behold, I bring thee Excalibur!

Our Lady holds out a tiny fingernail clipper.

Bobby: Um, it doesn’t look like a sword to me.

Our Lady: TSA regulations prohibit me from apparating from the sky with weapons. What canst thou do?

Bobby: Okey dokey.

Bobby takes Excalibur in his trembling hands and vows to rule as a just prince. Louisiana is saved!

Monday, October 08, 2007

International Boob Tube

I've noticed a few U.K. flags on my site counter recently, and I just happen to be working through the BBC version of The Office on DVD. It's a brilliant show, and one that was able to be adapted for American TV with few major modifications--it's more like NBC fine-tuned the show a bit and even improved on it.

My question to the gentle puddle readers who live outside of the United States this: What American shows do you watch, and what do you like about them? To you gentle readers inside the United States, what non-American shows do you like? Just curious.

ETA--my own favorite imports from Britain are Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers--which may be the funniest show ever made--All Creatures Great and Small, and To the Manor Born. I really should watch BBC America for some newer shows. I've never even seen the Helen Mirren cop drama. From Canada, I've liked Second City Television and Kids in the Hall. SCTV's Way to Go Woman! feature about Mother Theresa, and its Battle of the PBS Stars, are as funny as any of Monty Python's famous skits.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Puddle of Paddling

My wife gave me a kayak for Christmas in 2002. With everything that's gone on in our household the past few years, the kayak sat in the garage, unused, until this morning. I took it to Bayou Lacombe and paddled around for a couple of hours. The water there is calm enough for a rusty paddler like me to move around. It was enjoyable watching the fish jumping and the pelicans dive-bombing the bayou. I'm looking forward to more kayaking, and I may even take a class and learn how to do it properly.

Friday, October 05, 2007

All-American Kids

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Fun New Show

DW and I watched "Pushing Daisies" last night on ABC. I pretty much forgot that network even existed. Anyhow, it's a clever show that reminds me of Showtime's most excellent-but-cancelled "Dead Like Me." The main character of the show can revive the dead by touching them, but only at the cost of someone else dying. He strikes a deal with a private detective to revive murder victims, discover who killed them, make them dead again, then collect any reward money. The show takes a romantic twist early-on, and I kind of wonder whether they can sustain it for long under the circumstances--but then, they kept Jim and Pam in a state of sexual tension for three seasons on "The Office." The colors on the show are vivid and fantasyland-ish, and the voiceover reminds me of old Christmas movies.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Courage and Hope

I'm reminded frequently that my kids are extremely courageous. We had a nice visit with both of them in Alexandria, LA, this past weekend. T. got to ride the elevator at the local hotel, and both kids had a great time in the hotel's outdoor swimming pool. As we drove T. past the local hospital, where he is obsessive/compulsive about wanting to go play with the multi-storied elevators therein, we could hear him talking to himself--"okay, be quiet; okay, be quiet." He maintained his self-control, and we made it around the corner and down the street to WalMart without incident. It took guts for him to keep it together as we drove past that hospital.

Is it really almost Halloween? Well, how could I not know this, seeing how WalMart and Target have had their Halloween stuff out since late August.

We visited the newly refurbished St. Mary's miniature golf course on Sunday afternoon. The course was recently redone by the parents' group, and since we're parents, we accepted an invitation to walk over and have a look at it. We also visited a new group home for young adult men; it is nicer than our house inside. The improvements and additions up there give me hope for the future.

Republicans (not) on Parade

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dexter, sharpest knife in the drawer--updated

Season Two of Showtime's very dark comedy "Dexter" begins this coming Sunday night. The first season featured Dexter's journey of self-discovery, starting off very comfortably faking emotions he didn't have, then gradually becoming uncomfortably human and emotional as the Ice Truck Killer led him to the truth about his being "born free" of everything that is human. There were some moderately uncomfortable moments for me as I noticed similarities between Dexter and myself--though, I must point out, I am not a serial killer. No doubt other somewhat socially maladjusted people felt the same way.

Evidently, Season Two will consist mostly of an investigation of Dexter's own kills. The interaction between Dexter and Sgt. Doakes, a killer himself, will be fun to watch, and Keith Carradine should be interesting as the lead investigator. I wonder how much Dexter's cop sister Deborah will figure out, and I'm curious as to where the show will go with Dexter's internal monologue--and that monologue was a major feature of Season One--now that he knows himself better.

ETA--watch the first episode of Season Two for free here. "Bowl 'til you bleed." Hee!