Monday, February 29, 2016

The Geography of Profanity

The United States is a wide, diverse country, with different preferred cuisines (if you can call hotdish or Cincinnati chili cuisines, for God's sake!), regional accents, dialects, political orientations (the usual suspects), customs, and even religions. People have already noted that sugary beverages may be referred to as soda, pop, or coke in different sections of the country. Still, there are pressures towards homogeneity: breakfast burritos and sausage with gravy are pretty widely served.

But Jack Grieve, a British forensic linguist at Aston University, has looked into the American geography of profanity. Now here we have some surprises. For  instance, the word shit is widespread from East Texas up the Southern and Atlantic coasts until New York City. By way of contrast, it is infrequently used in Maine, the Appalachian region, the mountainous West, and parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

(Areas in orange use the word more; areas in blue use it less.)




Contrast this with the usage of the F-bomb. There's a fuck belt running from Brownsville to New Orleans. This picks up near Atlanta and runs along the Eastern seaboard up well into Maine. And Californians are well comfortable with this word. Apparently, it is more taboo in the inland states



Or the use of the word asshole. Very clearly New Englanders, New Yorkers, and Pennsylvanians use that word collectively more often while Southerners less so. I think that in the South that word falls into the category of fighting word. I remember some research in which Southerners were more likely to respond autonomically to that stimulus.

The word damn seems to have high potency across the Deep South. Maybe this is from that old time religion, or the penchant of some to refer to damned Yankees. (There was actually a play with that title about the Bronx Bombers, specifically).



And, looking at  minced profane word, gosh definitely has a regional usage, more frequently used in Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky, Texas, and Oklahoma. It's almost unheard in New England. 


So what can we generalize from this? Well, the Eastern states are, relatively speaking, profane; while those in the Rockies are relatively frugal with their cussing. Or they have more to be profane about.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dog and Cat Cartoons

It's time to have a little dog and cat humor. After all, most of us have a house pet of some kind. They can be incredibly funny until they spray or upchuck, So here goes . . . .

Dogs can have savior faire and know what water goes with meals:


Every dog has its day. Unfortunately, this dog isn't having it today.


A little couch time can be therapeutic for dogs:


Sometimes there is canine infidelity in the suburbs:


Dogs like nice-smelling surroundings too:


Bob and Steve finally look carefully at their surroundings.


Even dogs can be compulsive at times:


Fido keeps up with Jones Cat in indoor luxuries:


Even the Army K-9 Corps experiences budget cuts:


Dogs can be embarrassed too:


Pedro cat fails at being a noted diary writer based on his passion to live more energetically:



The perils of being the new cat in town:


Cats getting a relief from erectile disorder with Viagra:


Tiger believes in feeding the hungry:


Whiskers would have preferred an Irish wake, though:

Cuddles had a sixth sense of what gifts are appropriate:


Dinner specials in the Cat Café:






Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Are Women Who Wear Body Paint as a Swimsuit Naked or Clothed?

The latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue managed to be a topic for the weekly coffee and beignet session of some New Orleans ladies needing their caffeine and sucrose fix, not to mention a light discussion. Seeing that several of them were attendees at St. Cletus's Parish, the topic came soon to morality.

Specifically, some of the models depicted had 'swimsuits' that were wholly or partly body painted. The question were, are they naked or clothed? Another one was is it sinful to wear body paint instead of a swimsuit?  The discussion was in general terms; but there was a sense that some were willing to break ground with this new sartorial trend. Specifically, Madeline DuprĂ©, Missy Chauvin, and Clotilde Badeaux seemed particularly supportive. Suzette Picou said she tried that at work; but got fewer tips.

Just then, a Catholic priest, Father Tim Devereaux, and a Baptist minister, Brother Bob Bates, came in for their daily caffeine jolt. Despite being of different denominations, they enjoyed their times together and often discussed sports, politics, or other topics that we won't go into!

The girls saw them, and waved them over. The clerics were pleased to have coffee with some pretty ladies. The coffee session was entirely convivial and not stressful, so the body paint questions were raised. 

Both clerics owned up to having seen the latest SI swimsuit; and both missed the hypothetical nudity that had appeared. As a matter of fact, Brother Bob Bates admitted never reading the captions! Father Devereaux comment that he must be getting old, as he missed that tantalizing detail but he would go back tonight and inspect the rectory's copy which he gotten earlier to find suitable sermon material in it.

Brother Bob, thinking this was easy, answered the questions first: "Well, in the usual circumstances, they are not naked because they are wearing concealment in the right places. I think that being covered with paint in those same places serves as well. Both are opaque, so they're not naked. But what do you think, Tim?"

Father Devereaux answered, "That's the way I see it too. They're clothed; they're not immodestly dressed."

"So, apparently immodesty is in the eyes of the beholder?" asked Clotilde. 

"Yes, Clotilde. If you're likely to be offended, don't go to South Beach or St. Tropez," said Brother Bob.

Tim Devereaux decided that there is something to situational ethics after all.

Madeline said, "Cool! I'll surprise Pete when we go to Pass Christian next weekend!"








Monday, February 22, 2016

Kanye West in the News Again!

Kanye West has a remarkable ability to surf the faux news spectrum, with his antics and offhand remarks. Since he horned in on Taylor Swift's accepting a Grammy years ago, he has managed some startling examples of attention-seeking. Recently, he has declared that he would boycott the Grammys if he was not named for Best Album! Also, he seems never to have given up on Taylor: recently he was quoted in Rolling Stone as singing, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous/Goddamn, I made that bitch famous." Taylor shot him down at the Grammys in no uncertain terms, but in a classy way.






Dude! Aren't you still married and have two kids? Whoa! And calling women "bitch" is a turn-off, didn't your Mama tell you?  President Obama himself once commented "Kanye West is still a jackass." Even Donald Trump didn't merit that accolade yet! Don't you get the message?

Most recently he has claimed that he's $53 million dollars in the hole, and a GoFundMe Campaign has been inspired by his Twittering. He even claimed that "hedge fund billionaires" chipped into his funding! What's in it for those guys? .

Gee, is that all it takes? I remember a few years ago a young woman raised $5000 for breast augmentation surgery through her "Give Boobs" campaign on the internet; promising to send before and after pictures to all donators. Somehow, that sounded more effective than raising money by holding up a sign on a highway:








Sunday, February 21, 2016

"Oops I Did It Again" -- BOTB Results


A few days ago, I posted four different versions of the 2000 song, "Oops, I Did It Again," performed by Britney Spears and three other performers. Twelve of you were kind enough to listen and give feedback. A special salute is given to brave souls that listened all the way through all four!

Anyway, here are the number of votes cast by artist:

Glee Cast --- 7

Britney Spears --- 3

Max Raabe --- 1

Louis Armstrong --- 1

I would have to go with the majority, and vote with the Glee Cast also, giving them 8. It's a real feat when a group doing a cover version tops the original version.

Anyway, thanks for participating; I hope you enjoyed it.













Friday, February 19, 2016

The Great Campus T-P Scandal

Campus life can be bizarre at times, even back in the days when goldfish-swallowing and panty raids were in vogue. But to combine a small complaint with a peaceful protest has a lot of win to it.

It all started quite unexpectedly. In both the dorms and the classroom toilets a coarse brand of one-ply toilet paper that was routinely used was the norm. Older faculty members would refer to it as John Wayne toilet paper. Now, gentle reader, you might be wondering why, so let me enlighten you:

It's called that because it's rough, it's tough, and it takes no crap off of anyone.

Anyway, Megan, a sophomore journalism major, slipped into a faculty rest room in the Administration building for a quick visit that was, technically, in space that was illicit to those of her lowly status. The room had cloth cloths, hot and cold faucets that both work, sufficient heat, potpourri, and....oh my blessed heaven!....soft-two ply toilet paper!

Megan realized the potentially scandalous implications of this, so she smuggled the special rolls of toilet paper out of the administrators' Ladies' room and went directly to the campus newspaper office, where she informed the student editor of the shocking find!

Even better, the Faculty Advisor was out of town, on a weekend tryst with the Department Secretary. So the story could be written and set in print without being seen by the gimlet eyes of the Advisor.

The paper was duly printed; and delivered by 10 A.M. on Monday morning. A few copies were picked up; and by the time a copy circulated up to the administration, the cat was metaphorically out of the bag! (A journalism major would never write that it was literally out of the bag.)

So a few students grumbled, and a steering committee was formed to protest the John Wayne toilet paper, as it became known. (A cinema professor was pleased that many students learned about that great Hollywood thespian; others learned also that a thespian was an actor, and was not someone who engaged in an unnatural, lurid act!)

Anyway, circulars were printed, banners were produced, and 2000 students mobilized to protest coarse institutional toilet paper!

The Faculty got into the act when they realized that ordinary faculty had to be content with the cheap stuff, and the Faculty Senate formed a committee to study the toilet paper situation at the University. They at least mused that their hineys deserved soft toilet paper because they had Ph.D. degrees!

Anyway, the Administration dealt with the problem in the usual way. They promised to shift over to soft, two-ply toilet paper for all as soon as the supply of the old ran out. That bought them time; and they raised student parking permit prices to offset the increased cost.

And some supple intellects among the students saw this as a demonstration of how government worked.



I wrote this as a story. But strangely enough, Ryerson University in Canada actually did have a protest over toilet paper.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Familiar Spirits

The concept of witches having cats is a trope that has been around for centuries. Particularly black cats. There's something furtive and witchy about them, even in anime witch representations:




However, centuries ago there were people who were more likely to look askance at women, especially poor older women, who had unusual pets. This is before the days of the talking parakeets, gerbils, or ferrets. Befriending a homely-looking mutt or having a pet toad might not be a good idea back during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled Witch Finder General, found several instances of witches having unusual pets, with curious names.

One witch had a short-legged terrier, named Jarmara, black bunny named Sacke and Sugar, and a greyhound with an ox's head named Vinegar Tom. Another witch had Pyewackett, a cat familiar, and Grizzled Greedigut,

These animal familiars served as spies, pranksters, and all around sidekicks when witchy business was to take place. Toads were sometimes said to be witches' familiars. They were castigated as a source of warts for centuries.




I wonder how much demand there is for a Cajun witch. Surely more than a Cajun bitch! After all, there are herbalists, traiteurs, and traiteuses that lurk unrestrained by the Medical Practice Act. And curses are rife in the Bayou subculture, even outside of election season. (The Gubernatorial race takes place in the year before the Presidential race.)

But some practice the Dark Arts. And, if they want a familiar spirit, they would probably have a nutria. But still, the greyhound with an ox's head is kind of cool.

Monday, February 15, 2016

"Oops! . . . . I Did It Again: BOTB

"Oops! . . . . I Did It Again" was Britney Spears's hit from her second album, released in 2002; It's rather glitzy; and features Britney in a cat suit. This one, just like "Baby One More Time," almost screams for a parody:


Here's Lea and the cast from Glee, doing the same song:




Having listened to both of these versions, which one do you prefer: The Spears original or the Glee cast one?

And to make things a little more interesting, here is one allegedly performed by Louis Armstrong back in 1932:



And here is a cover version done by Max Raabe as a German cabaret song:


I think these four versions give some range of possibilities for this song. So, after having heard at least snatches of each, which one do you like best:

_____ The Britney Spears version
_____ The Glee version
_____ The 'Louis Armstrong' version
_____ The Max Raabe Version.

Please vote for your preference. I will post totals ion Feb. 21.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Women's Issues Making the News

Oh my gosh! It seems like there's a surfeit of woman-related controversy in the news lately.

We begin with politics rearing its ugly head. Last week Madeline Albright voiced the opinion that there was a special place in Hell for younger women who Berned for Bernie instead of voting for the establishment Hillary. I'm glad the lady expressed a concern for my immortal soul, but I figure that whoever does the 11 A.M. Sunday Mass or even Madeline the Prophetess is a worthy spiritual advisor for me. 

It's a quaint notion, that I should vote for someone because we might on occasion share a rest room, if Her Ladyship Hillary were to use the same proletarian powder rooms as me! (I feel lucky if there's tissue and soap, much less two-ply.)

Another lady at the same time implied that my possible Berning was due to estrogen-based attraction to cute guys rather than economics or pure political reasoning. Yeah, cute guys get me all the time!

Now to another topic. Wednesday Bilbo reported on John-Louis Rouillon, a French researcher who found evidence that bras were inconsequential for female breast support, they did not serve to stay sagging. However, he took the usual researcher line that a larger sample, perhaps of 300,000 women, would be needed. (This is usually cited when a researcher is jockeying for a larger grant!) Anyway, this is welcome news for those plagued with underwiring or the need to wear strapless bras if true.

Actually, his idea is with merit. All breasts are not equal. Breasts of a 34A size* are likely to show less downward displacement and bounce anyway than those that are 42F! In short, for some of us, the wearing of bras is optional. Then the only problem is concealing tell-tale bumps and avoiding translucent fabrics (if desired). Pro Tip: Good girls don't show. Sweaters are an option combining comfort with modesty.

For Caucasian women, an inexpensive solution then would be to wear Band-Aids. Or you can go with nipple covers. Or just brazen it out.

Actually, going full topless on the beach is too daring for me!

As an encore of my N.F.L. jersey post earlier, I found that N.F.L. fans can also get swimsuits for their favorite team! Even though swimsuit season and pro football coincide very little. This bikini top might work!



If the Saints win the Super Bowl again, this might inspire a parallel line of guys' bikini fashions for the Gulf Coast beaches! Considering the boobs and moobs of New Orleans, this might be a good thing.

*Like mine.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Swamp Girl

Swamp Girls, real or faux, definitely have a popular image as a sexy exotic, possibly also dangerous. You don't wanna mess around with them; both because of LSU fan big brothers or the Swamp Monster (occasionally appearing at a nearby Waffle House).

In reality, Swamp Girls are more demure exotics, maybe not quite dressed for Mass but maybe for a hamburger stand or taking pictures with tourists (and the Swamp Monster, if available.) These are typically college students who adopt the persona and accent to go with the show.

Hardly savage, do you think?


That wouldn't sell pulp magazines in the 1950's, would it? This might:




This might serve to depict her as a strange, fairy-like creature in a hyperromanticism of reality:


Monday, February 8, 2016

Literary Barbs

Authors have a way with words; and sometimes they are outspoken about other authors or literature in general.

The British have long had a taste for bad books; but they like them well-written.
                    --Malcolm Bradbury

[On Henry James] One of the nicest old ladies I have ever met.
                    --William Faulkner

Most new books are forgotten within a year, especially by those who borrow them.
                    --Evan Esar

Robert Benchley has a style that is weak and frequently lies down to rest.
                     --Max Eastman

A good book tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad book tells the truth about its author.
                     --G. K. Chesterton              

[On Ben Jonson] Reading him is like wading through glue.
                     --Alfred Lord Tennyson

A sequel is an admission that you've been reduced to repeating yourself.
                     -- Don Marquis

[On Norman Mailer] He is now what he wanted to be: the patron saint of bad journalism.
                     -- Gore Vidal

[On Charlotte Bronte] I wish her characters would talk less like the heroes and heroines of police reports.
                      -- George Eliot

[Joseph] Conrad spent the whole day finding the mot juste, then killed it.
                      -- Ford Madox Ford

A classic is something that everyone wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
                     -- Mark Twain

[On P. G. Wodehouse] English literature's performing flea.
                     -- Sean O'Casey

The big advantage of a book is that it's easy to rewind. Close it and you're right back at the beginning.
                     -- Jerry Steinfeld

[Evelyn] Waugh is an antique in search of a period, a snob in search of a class.
                     -- Malcolm Muggeridge

A literary movement consists of five or six people who live in the same town and hate each other cordially.
                     -- George Moore

To cay that Agatha [Christie]'s characters are like cardboard cut-outs is an insult to cardboard.
                     -- Ruth Rendell

I always wanted to write a book that ended with the word 'mayonnaise.'
                     -- Richard Brautigan

My  father [Kingsley] always had doubts about the Booker Prize although they evaporated on the announcement that he had won it.
                     -- Martin Amis

[On E. M. Forster] He is limp and damp and mild as the breath of a cow.
                     -- Virginia Woolf.

[On Aldous Huxley] The stupid person's idea of a clever person.
                     -- Elizabeth Bowen



Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Line-up in New Orleans

Around Carnival happenings can take on surreal forms. Here are a few crashers to a carnival ball. For some reason, the captain of the Krewe in question wondered if they were not members of the Krewe or guests. Maybe the fact that wearing of costumes is allowed only on Mardi Gras Day could be a reason. Still, the person on the extreme left might be a debutante!


The one in the chicken costume might have lost an election bet; and the topless one in the center is a State Senator from Mississippi.

The dapper one next to him may run for President in 2020. After this year's Presidential perp walk, anyone will look good.

The last one? I don't really know. But he might be Megyn Kelly's familiar. Is that a shaggy dog story?

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Jersey of a Different Color

Often high school students are subjected to rules regarding conduct and dress by the Powers that Be of the school. There may be rules forbidding the chewing of gum, leaving the school grounds at lunchtime for Happy Meals (including freely translating burritos in that category as they also induce culinary happiness), wearing certain clothes as low-cut jeans, legible t-shirts, short shorts, and bizarre accessories. Of course, some schools require uniforms. Those that do don't have to worry about bare midriffs!

It seems to be an occasional fantasy of the naughty private school girl wearing a too-short school uniform, as this music video illustrates.

But lately there has been a some heat regarding the wearing of Confederate flag images on t-shirts. Often banning these is motivated by a desire to avoid possible occasions for provocation. And I can't find much fault with this thinking. On the other hand, is there a First Amendment issue at stake also? Free speech is not limited to speech that others approve of.

But what about pro team athletic jerseys?  I can imagine the desire of boys in Colorado to show their Denver Bronco partisanship by wearing a Broncho jersey; preferably #18 (Payton Manning's). And likewise Carolina guys would patriotically sport a #1 Panther jersey (Cam Newton's). But what about the Colorado nonconformist who sports a Panther jersey or the Carolina provocateur who dares to wear a Bronco jersey? Will the impact of this be a mild tweaking against social conformity; or a true social provocation? The school district in Everett, WA decided it could be the latter: it banned non-Seattle area professional sports teams from being worn on school premises. The reason: they thought it could be used as gang identifiers. After all, big, aggressive guys sport those colors most Sundays in the Fall!

Since these jerseys can be pricy (some $100 apiece or more), this can be a real factor if they are excluded from some wardrobes. 

Let's look at it a bit further: what if some odd duck in those places showed up wearing a Tennessee Titans jersey in either Denver or Charlotte? Or (horrors!) a Dallas Cowboys one! Those are not conforming clothes; but other possibilities that may rise to the occasion. One reason why this might occur is because some teens like to jerk the chains of adult authority figures.


On the other hand, some might just like to wear a football jersey along with some cool accessories:



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Bird With the Sexy Dance

Different species of birds are characterized by sexual dimorphism in which males are larger, more colorful, or more brightly plumed than the females. Typically, females in those species choose whom to mate with, based on characteristics which presumably are associated with better genes. Thus, the peahen is biologically disposed to choose the peacock with more iridescent colors and larger tail displays; and this story goes on in other species.




With the splendid bird of paradise, a species found in New Guinea, the male has brighter plumage than the female; but he also knows how to use dancing to win a gal's heart. Here's the courtship dance of the splendid bird of paradise:


Isn't he a splendid mate? Apparently she thought not. Maybe there was something wrong with his colors, or moves, or impetuousness. Anyway, he looks crestfallen! Sorry, Big Dude.

Maybe he needs to follow the advice of the Contours and really learn to dance:



Monday, February 1, 2016

How Mermaids Are Represented

Mermaids are not real. This is unfortunate because so many tales of encountering these fantastic creatures make it into a cryptozoological category by itself. And typically, how these are represented has fallen into specific fashions.

First of all, mermaids are usually represented as young females. Where do old mermaids go? Do they retire at 30; or do they hang around less favored settings, unlike some Hollywood actresses or singers who constantly make the news.

Their hair is usually long and flowing. No bobs, braids, or buzz cuts. Have you ever seen a buzz cut mermaid? And mermaids are mostly brunettes but with some blondes too. A few redheads, like Ariel in the Disney movie, may appear.  


Almost always are they depicted as wearing a top of some kind; often a pair of seashells. Like party girls wearing faux seashells for modesty's sake. Suffice it to say, topfree has not penetrated the ranks of mermaids, except possibly at South Beach.

And mermaids are usually depicted as ethereally thin; but a zaftig mermaid sometimes appears.

And there's teratology depictions of mermaids. Sometimes they're depicted with two tails, like on the old Starbucks' logo. We must assume that two-tailed mermaids are some kind of genetic mutation. It would certainly cause them to swim differently.

But my point is that maybe it's time for some mermaid diversity. Why not zaftig mermaids? Or mermaids with buns or even 1960's style bouffant 'dos? Not to mention racial diversity? And give some mermaids a Southern accent. Or, even a Jersey one!


At least there are no Republican or Democrat mermaids!