Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pop Quiz: Beardo-Lit

Behold the Bearded Hipster, a specimen commonly seen in coffee shops with lax smoking prohibitions, identifiable by the following traits:

Pop quiz: What's he reading?*

* I ask because I really don't know. What keeps the bearded set turning the pages these days?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

My lady is a good lady, but she has one fatal flaw: she doesn't always finish her coffee.

Not infrequently, as I pick up around the house, I find her long-forgotten morning mug with coffee still in the bottom—an inch, sometimes more. For shame. Waste coffee? There are children in Africa having a hard time waking up right now! She says she doesn't want it anymore once it gets cold. I say: cold coffee, where's the problem? And I can't throw it away, so—like a teenager getting drunk on the dregs of his parents' cocktails—I swig it down.

I confess, though, I'm not motivated merely by coffee-frugality. I actually get excited when I find a tiddle in the bottom. (Ooh, there's more!) That doesn't make me in the addict, does it?*

* This morning, I married the remnants of three separate mugs and happily walked out the door with a new almost full Franken-mug. That doesn't make me an addict, does it?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Les Brusiers, Circle Bar, Saturday!

Drag your sun-baked, beer-soaked, fest-headed self on over there. Yee-ah!

Note: I don't know about anyone else, but I find the thought of Jason with dreadlocks endlessly amusing.

Socialists San Cee-gars

The other day, as I left the coffice, I saw a funny thing: two young collegiate socialists (wearing small spectacles and collegiate-socialist sandals) standing over their table of socialist literature, earnestly debating with an archetypal fat capitalist (wearing leisure-golf attire and archetypal-fat-capitalist-on-his-day-off sandals). As the capitalist made his points ("So you're telling me that even with a guaranteed income, people will want to work? Where are you from?"), he gestured emphatically with a massive cigar. The socialists, entirely lacking cigars with which to gesture, were at a clear disadvantage.

And I thought to myself, why can't the socialists and the cigar-wielders just get along and live in unity? Imagine a world where the socialists too have cigars with which to emphatically gesture. And then I thought to myself, oh yeah... Cuba.

When did the cigar become so asymmetrically emblematic of the right? Is the lack of socialist cigar parity symptomatic of the failure of the Cuban regime? Is a cigar ever really just a cigar? So many questions.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Etch-A-Vernacular: "That went over like a fart in church." (I hope, craic-head, it's everything you dreamed and hoped for.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Un-Chartered Territory

Earlier this week, the T-P ran an article touching closely on my little corner of the public school landscape: Our sister school, the New Orleans Free Academy, has the unfortunate distinction of being the first charter school in New Orleans to close. Like my school, McDonogh City Park Academy, it became a charter after the storm. Like my school, it struggled for two years. But this year, under a new principal and largely new staff, MCPA made substantial improvements. The Free Academy, troubled by a series of leadership disruptions, didn't. So the board made the decision to surrender the charter—and to fire the for-profit company that has been managing both schools.*

I met the staff of the Free Academy on several occasions. They had many talented, dedicated professionals. And maybe, with time—and viable management—they could have turned it around. We won't find out.

I think—I hope—that good things will come from the current petri dish of New Orleans schools, but the closing is a reminder that charters (and privatization) aren't a magic panacea for the entrenched and profound problems in public education.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sean, late afternoon. (I spent my Christmas money—I'm slow that way—on a new pocket camera. It matches my not-quite-so-new-anymore non-pocket camera. It's lovely. And the old pocket camera becomes the new kid camera. So the cycle continues...)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I'd like to identify a category of movies: Movies-I-Feel-Like-I-Ought-To-Watch-But-In-Reality-Somehow-Can't-Quite-Be-Bothered (MIFLIOTWBIRSCQBB).

It used to be, MIFLIOTWBIRSCQBBs were relatively harmless. You passed one on the shelf of the video store, felt vaguely shallow for not renting it, then grabbed the latest Rush Hour sequel.* (Jackie: so nimble! Chris: so wacky!)

But in this era of Netflix, they come to us, invited by us, tacked to the end of our queue in a long forgotten idealistic yesteryear: "Of course—at some indeterminate date in the future—I'll want to watch an incisive and savagely honest documentary about the ravages of the Vietnam war!"

So they arrive like red-enveloped stepchildren, silently beseeching us, "Watch me now," and we go on ignoring them, "I'm just not in the mood." Another month passes. Another twenty dollars is sacrificed to the Netflix gods.

"Rashomon" has been sitting by our DVD player for over a month. I'm sure it's excellent. I like Kurosawa a bunch—"Seven Samurai", "Ran", even the one about the old man dying of cancer. (And until I watch it, I can't, with full conviction, use the term "Rashomon-esque".) But somehow, there hasn't been a single night in the past few weeks when I've been in the mood to watch a feudal Japanese court procedural. (Though I'm completely current on "The Office" and "30 Rock". Hmm.)


* Insert your low-brow movie preference here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I saw this* yesterday:

Dang! Now I've got to find a different name for my new start-up venture, (formerly) Insult-Tech:
A provider of quality insult-driven technology solutions. How do you know we're the best? Because we we tell you. We will constantly remind of exactly how extremely smart and knowledgeable we are while simultaneously enumerating all the ways in which you are amazingly ignorant of all things technological. And what on Earth were you thinking when you tried to manually configure your LAN settings, because it so obviously needs to be dynamic—not static—IP, and you should probably just stick to configuring your screen saver, if you can even handle that. Snort! That's the Insult-Tech guarantee!
And I'd already had the custom shirts made. Dang!

* I'm assuming that's an insulation company.

"Dogs Off Their Chains" Redux

Zena has requested an illustration of "It's blowing the dogs off their chains out there," and I'm happy (if slow) to oblige. Voilà!

Poor things.

Perhaps we should do a series of illustrations of obscure sayings and quaint vernaculars. What's next?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

That's So Louisiana

Did you know the Louisiana tax code has a military hunting credit?*
"A refundable credit is allowed against income tax for the military service members and their dependents who purchase Louisiana hunting or fishing licenses."
That's so Louisiana. (Can we start a TV show: "That's So Louisiana"? Just like "That's So Raven". It'll be huge on Disney.)

* I didn't either until we were doing our taxes tonight? Ugh. (Though taxes aren't quite as bad with martinis.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Touch of Class

This catalog arrived in the mail today:*

Can you read that? "Touch of Class."** Hmm. I'll go ahead and say it: Damn! Sometimes there's such a thing as too much class.

* I wonder how we wound up on this mailing list. I suppose our classy-reputation proceeds us.

** A "touch"? More like a vicious to-the-brink-of-death bludgeoning... of class. (A classy bludgeoning, after which, one is tied up in a classy sack full of classy rocks, then thrown into a classy river where one sinks to the classy depths, gasping one's last classy breath before the classy lights go out forever.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Angry Victorian

Louise was cranky this afternoon (too much of the wrong kind of snacks, not enough of the right). When I turned down her demand for more Chex Mix, she scornfully retorted, "Well, good day to you," turned sharply on her heels, and marched out of the room.

I suppose I'm lucky she didn't throw down her glove and challenge me to a duel.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

"Gold Laying in the Streets"

As previously mentioned, in this household, we're ridiculously huge "The Wire" fans . It's the best-est ever-est thing ever. And we're ridiculously excited* that David Simon's next endeavor "Treme" is set here, "about a group of New Orleans musicians picking up the pieces after the flood".** The New York Times has a short article about it. Best quote from the article? David Simon asserting that:
“The way people here talk is like gold laying in the street.”
Yeah, ya'right.

* It's taken all my restraint not to lapse into a stalker-frenzy. On a couple of occasions, I've passed the crew filming street scenes for the pilot, and I deeply wanted to rush past the security detail, bust into the scene, and start hollering, "Is Bunk here? Bunk? Where are you? What about Lester? Where is he? I wanna hug 'em!" (Both Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters have roles in the new series.)

** But I confess, I worry: What if Simon get's sucked into the shuck-'n'-jive myth-muck of New Orleans story telling? And I have reason to worry. Almost (but not quite) every story, book, movie, or TV show ever set here has become hopelessly entangled in Spanish moss, voodoo, and distant saxophones blowing in the jasmine-scented air. But I'll trust that Simon's perceptive eyes and ears will help him navigate these perilous waters. (It would be nice to, once and for all, have a depiction of our city to which locals could point and say, "That's right.")

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ratted Out

I just realized that I no longer see the rats running on the wires past the house. Should we take this as a sign that the post-Katrina recovery of New Orleans is complete? (Or at least, as complete as it's going to get?)

I kind of miss them.

"Dogs Off Their Chains"

Our weather has gone bipolar. Yesterday, the highs were in the eighties. Tonight, the lows will hover around freezing. And it's windy as bejeezus. This morning I heard somebody say, "It's blowing the dogs off their chains out there." I like it. (The saying that is. And I kind of like the wind too—as long as I don't get brained by an airborne projectile.)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Cheetos car. You might think this car is sponsored by the finger-staining orange snack treat. Not so. It's an example of a local custom car trend (is it just local? I'm actually not sure) in which the owners trick out their rides in the logos and stylings of a favored brand: Cheetos, Sprite... I recently saw one done up Nerds candy-style. It even had a two-tone paint job: pink on one half, grape on the other, just like the Nerds boxes. Hilarious. And strange. (Update: Apparently, I lied.) (Updated update: Apparently, I didn't lie. I looked for that article when I was writing this post, but the website is so heinously organized, it's almost impossible to find anything. But I'm glad to see it again; those videos are fascinating.)

Flouncy Timbers

There's a pirate convention in town. Really. Well sort of really. I don't think any are actual pirates. To best of my knowledge, none arrived on gunboats from the coastal waters of Somalia. But there are lots of people in tri-cornered hats, vests, and tights roaming around the French Quarter, riding the streetcar, etc.

No disrespect intended,* but I confess, I don' quite get it. Any aesthetic built around the flouncy shirt ("flouncy"—good word) is fundamentally alien to me.** But if pirate-based tourism is a key building block in the reconstruction of our post-Katrina economy, then count me in. Shiver me flouncy timbers!

* Well, maybe a teeny bit. I went to see Charlie Louvin last night (whoo!), and parking cost double because of all the pirates in town. Arr!

** Jerry Seinfeld may have committed many fashion sins, but I'm with him on this one.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Today's Debate Topic: World-Eclectic Jazz Flute

Flautist by Slim. Colors by June.

Today's debate topic:
"World-eclectic jazz flute just doesn't get the chicks like it used to."
Defend or refute, your choice. Points will be awarded for thoroughness, consistency, daring, and scalawaggery.

I hear you, man. I hear you.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Slang Sling: "Get My Lick Back"

Our fifth and sixth graders are mired in constant petty grudges and grievances, eternally flinging taunts and sneaking blows* back and forth as opportunities permit. Which brings us to today's slang sling:
"get my lick back"
Student A sneaks a lick (smack or punch) on Student B. Student B decides to retaliate and return the smack or punch, declaring that he or she is going to "get my lick back".

As an educator trying to maintain decorum it's infuriating—the tit for tat back and forth. But as an armchair linguist, I have to admire the hilariously evocative imagery of the construct: the notion of a barter-based economy of licks, where each participant "bargains" for their rightful share, seeking lick-equilibrium.

Infuriating and hilariously evocative—I'd say that sums many of the students up pretty well too.**

* "Sneak" is another key term in their jargon of youthful warfare: "I'm gonna sneak him." Which is to say, "I'm gonna punch him when he's not looking."

** Speaking of which, I saw "The Class" tonight. Damn fine movie.