I’M BACK BECAUSE I GOT BORED!

I'm Back!
I’m Back!

I’m back because I got bored! I can’t remember the reason I stopped updating cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS a couple of years ago.  It wasn’t because I died or anything like that, I would have known if that happened. I think.  And it wasn’t that both of my followers went on to bigger and better things; maybe it was because they died?  That I wouldn’t have known about.  Maybe I ran out of gas and was stranded in the middle of the desert and it took a long time for me to be rescued.  Who knows.  Well, I decided it was time to dust off the old Smith Corona and get going again  commenting on trivial stuff you wouldn’t waste your time on.

 

Let’s see what I can muse about.  Hmmm, no not that … umm … What the heck!  Well, it’s now 2015 and a lot has happened since we last sat together around the campfire and sang Koom-By-Yah and other stirring campfire songs.  Kim Kardashian has gotten married, twice, and had a baby, Miley Cyrus has been a member of a wrecking crew and decided to ride a ten ton ball naked and Barf Darkle has … oh, wait a minute he is a character in a children’s book I’m writing.  Mmmmm…Scratch him.

THIS CLOWN IS DOING WHAT??????

“Wow!” I can just hear you say as I hunt and peck here on my keyboard.  “Jay is writing a children’s book!  I’ll have to start watching what my kids and grandkids are reading in the future.”

Yes, I admit in addition to my prowess in the sphere of cyberspace, I’m also a literary aficionado.  You might say that I’m a jack-of all-trades-master-of-none. That and now that I’m the proud grandfather of 12 grandkids, it’s a cheap way to hand out gifts for birthdays and Christmas.

IT AINT EASY BEING GREEN

I’ve been dabbling in the world of children’s stories for sometime now and one of the first morsels of advice you are given when you enter into the realm of writing is to write about what you know. I mean when you have the mind of twelve year old as I do, it’s not a far trip and  because you’re a big boy now, your mommy let’s you go by your self. 

I have a vivid imagination (if you’re familiar with my writing, you won’t be surprised.  If you’re not familiar, I’m sorry) and sometime all I need to do is have something as simple as a strange name pop into my head.  Take Barf Darkle for instance.  Now this is not my real character’s name, but it does have possibilities.  I can build a story based just on that, a bizarre name, the rest is history.

For those of you who have written anything of consequence you’ll understand that once you start writing, the words just automatically type themselves out onto the page or monitor screen.  You probably don’t even know nothing bout writ’n proper English grammar correctly, but you don’t never let that stop you, huh? In your twisted mind, the end justifies the means.

When you are finished, you believe that you have the “great American novel.”  Now all you have to do is get published, right?  Wrong oh Remington Rand breath!  Well you would be partially right.  All you have to do is get published, and that my good friend is where the fun begins.

 BREAK IT TO ME GENTLY

One of the first things that you should do is get some honest to goodness real live critiques of your opus.  This is where the fun really begins.  I was able to find a local group of authors and author wannabes that were willing to review my drafts and offer constructive advice on how to get them ready for publishing.  Let me warn you, you must have thick skin because they don’t hold any punches.  If it is a legitimate organization, they will literally tear your work apart the way that I imagine an editor would. But if you are serious, you can handle it, that’s because you’re a  you’re a writer!  And, if they are serious, they will be professional in their comments and advice.  The group I belong to is highly professional and has offered constructive and helpful advice.  I do appreciate their candor.

A few good places to start looking for local writer’s groups are:

1) Internet search

2) Local bookstores

3) Local libraries

I chose my old standby, the internet.

GETTING PUBLISHED

If you are writing a picture book don’t include your art work with your initial submissions.  The reason being is if you are fortunate enough to get an offer to publish your work, the publisher will handle the tasks associated with graphics placement.

Since this is my first foray into the world of literature in a serious vane, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to submit any work for consideration,  So with that in mind I plan to do follow-up blog entries in the future tracking my progress or lack thereof.

One thing worth considering when your work is finished would be to “self publish.” The reasons being ease of such, return on investment (ROI) and exposure to real publishers.  Let me expand on the above.

If you are a savvy computer user, uploading to a seller’s website should be easy.

With the popularity and low costs of electronic readers such as Amazon’s Kindle(c), Android readers et. al., you have an almost unlimited audience.  And the only overhead you experience in getting your work out is often minimal.  Then there is the pricing of your book.  If you want you can offer it to the public for $0.00 or as little as $0.99 and you get to keep a larger portion of the proceeds; sometimes as much as 70%!

Many times the big boys in the industry find their next great American novel online.

DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT

Now since I’ve not had many of the above experiences as of yet, what do I know, right? I suggest that you do some investigating on your own.  One good place to start is at http://www.clarkhoward.com .  Clark, as many of you may know, is a radio/tv talk show host gifted in many aspects of life in general and is a big proponent of self publishing.  So much so that he devotes a section of his website to the subject. I’ve provided a link here  clarkhowardselfpublishing to make it easier for you to start your search.

As always, comments are welcome at cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS especially if you have any regarding writing a book whether it be a children’s book or traditional novel.  I’d be interested in hearing about your experience(s).

Well, I see by the time, that I’ve over stayed my welcome in your humble “cyber” space, and besides, I hear my easy chair calling my name.  No, wait that’s my smart phone’s ringtone with my wife’s voice!

TTYL!

BLOGGER’S NOTE: NOTHING WRITTEN ABOVE SHOULD BE VIEWED AS, OR CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE.  SEEK COMPETENT LEGAL COUNSEL BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY PUBLISHING CONTRACT OR AGREEMENT FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING OR SELF PUBLISHING.

Jay

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LEGAL STUFF: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL! All original written material or original graphics are my property (unless otherwise noted), can only be used or reproduced with my written permission and must contain a link or reference to https://contemporarymusings.wordpress.com when use is permitted. ALL LINKS REFERENCED ON cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS ARE UNSOLICITED AND THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG IS NOT COMPENSATED IN ANY FORM, MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE FOR INCLUDING THEM IN ANY POST.  SOME ADS APPEAR AS A CONDITION OF USE OF WORDPRESS.COM’S SOFTWARE AND SERVER SPACE AND THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG IS IN NO WAY RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR APPEARANCE AND HAS ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER THEIR APPEARANCE IN contemporarymusings.

HOW HARD CAN IT BE? VENTING WITH RANDY LOONEY

21ST CENTURY TECHNOLOGY AT IT BEST????
21ST CENTURY TECHNOLOGY AT IT BEST????

All right!  This time I’m really venting!

HOW HARD CAN IT BE . . . ?

If you’re like me, you don’t like to be inconvenienced uselessly.  Case in point: The other day I called a major home improvement store to find out some basic information by asking a simple question;  “Do you have any…?”  I finally hung up in disgust after pressing three, four, five, six, seven , etc., and talking to two people, one twice.  The reason I ended the call abruptly was because neither could get me to the correct department, the Garden Center.  How hard could it be?  This store is not the size of the state of Texas, they have a public address system and all the sales staff have walkie talkies!

AUTOMATED TELEPHONE HELL RELIEF!
AUTOMATED TELEPHONE HELL RELIEF!

Why do these stores have the dreaded “Automated Phone Hell”  to begin with? Most of us will not know these as a Hosted Phone System . They do nothing but alienate customers before they even get in the store or whatever establishment it happens to be.  How hard could it be to hire someone to sit on the switchboard? You younger folks will have to ask grandma what a switchboard is.  I’ll give you a hint:  it doesn’t have wheels  and it not something you take to the park to “catch some air” with.  What with people being out of work or jobs being outsourced to East Rawminda Poo Poo India, you would think that it would be easy to hire people to make customers feel important.

HOW HARD CAN IT BE? . . .

Fast Food drive-thrus are also a pet peeve of mine.  Have you ever driven through the local “Clown E. Burger” and had to raise your voice and speak in syllables?  You know what I’m talking about.  “NO!!!!!!! I WANT YOUR CLOWN-EEEEEEEY CHEEEEE-ZEEEZZZ BURGEE, A SMALLLL-EEEEEE ORDER OF FRENNNNNN-CHHH-EEEEEEEEE FRYYYYYYY-ZEEE-EEEEZZZZZ AND A YOU-MUNGGGGG-EEEEEE KOH-KEEEEE-EEEEYYYY KOOOOHHHHH-LEEEEEE! NOT THE BAY-KKKKKEEEENNNNNNN-EEEE CHICK-KENNNNNNY MIDGE-YETTTE SAMMMMMEEEEEEE-WHIIIIICCCCHHHH-EEEEEEYYYYYY”

Then you have to deal with the attendant’s response again. “I’M SORRY WE ON’T HAVE ANY XYZWER% OODAY.  BUT WE CAN SUBSTITUTE A KEI7*< IN A KER^5___ WITH @JRO8&?2”

First of all, why can’t they get a TWO-WAY communications system that doesn’t require the transmission to be bounced off of the moon and re-transmitted back to earth?  It would be easier just to sit in your car and scream your order directly to the order window rather than go through all the other trouble.  Secondly, why can’t they hire people who speak English.  Now before you go calling me a “Racist” or an “Elitist”, let me clarify.  I’ am talking about people who can speak English in an understandable manner.  It’s hard enough when the company uses poor communications equipment, why make it more difficult when the person using it can’t speak clearly.  Whatever happened to driving up to a window and talking directly to a human?

HOW HARD CAN IT BE? . . .

I love it when I call someone who I know at least “likes” me and I have to leave them a voicemail.  Within seconds I receive a text message asking “What’s up?”  DUH! How hard would it have been to answer the phone?  Or at least listen to my voicemail.

If the person is busy and can’t talk at that I moment, I understand.  But if they’re not, it takes just as much time to text back a message as it does to answer the phone in the first place.  That’s why it’s called a TELEPHONE! It enables two or more people to conduct a conversation using audible words, not three or four capital letters that are visible abbreviations for words. DYKWIM?

MY POINT

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m an OWG.  For those of you who are my generation, go ask your teenager, they’ll be glad to tell you what it stands for.  I guess that maybe it’s my generation’s fault that we’ve managed to raise offspring that have not learned the art of communication.  Whether it be calling a business to find out information, ordering burgers or talking on the phone.  We were the ones responsible for inventing the technology and processes that makes it possible for our kids and grandkids to whiz by us on their skateboards or jet-skis, briefly waving to us a smile in three capital letters.

Maybe it’s just that the younger people of today just don’t want to talk because they feel that they have nothing to say that would take more three capital letters.  If that’s the case, that’s scary.  What does that mean for the future?  As communications technology increases, will verbal conversation eventually become unnecessary and be lost all together.  We’ve already abandoned letter writing as a form of communication to the extent that future generations will not know us intimately and how we felt about each other.  That is unless they are able to preserve the billions and billions of text messages and e-mails and the technology that will enable them to be displayed.  I’m surprised that we still make paper and pencils today.

Maybe our generation has failed to teach our children how to communicate properly because we were so busy creating technology and processes that we abbreviated our communications with them.  A familiar saying attributed to Alexander Pope states “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree” (paraphrased) sums it up best.  If in the case as stated above we are responsible because of our actions, then payback really is a bitch.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.

Whatever the reason, it is what it is and I’ll just have to live with it.  I don’t have to like it, but then I don’t like broccoli either..

R. L.OONEY

CAUTION: IF YOU HAPPEN TO SPOT AN OWG WALKING DOWN THE STREET LOOKING DISHEVELED IN A THREE PIECE SUIT, WEARING A BOW TIE, CALL 1-555-WITEKOTE.  RANDY’S WANDERED AWAY FROM SUNSHINE MANOR AGAIN.  DON’T TAKE ANY ADVICE FROM HIM.

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LEGAL STUFF: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL! All original written material or original graphics are my property (unless otherwise noted), can only be used or reproduced with my written permission and must contain a link or reference to https://contemporarymusings.wordpress.com when use is permitted. ALL LINKS REFERENCED ON cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS ARE UNSOLICITED AND THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG IS NOT COMPENSATED IN ANY FORM, MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE FOR INCLUDING THEM IN ANY POST.

ST. PADDY’S DAY

LEPRECHAUNS, YAH GOTT LUV 'EM!
LEPRECHAUNS, YAH GOTTA LUV ‘EM!

Ah,yes.  Once again it’s St. Paddy’s day, a foine, foine day fer the wearin’ ‘o tha green! And ya know me foine lads and lassie’s, Oi can say that with a really bad Barry Fitzgerald accent, ’cause Oive, got a bit o’ the ole green sod running through me veins!  Me grandmother’s name was Margaret Fitzgerald.  That probably accounts for me having ta have two open hart surgeries.  That green sod sure can clog up yer caranary system quicker than a Leprechaun jumpin’ in ol’ widow O’Brien’s lap after partakin’ a few snarts ‘o Old Bushmill’s foinest!

Who doesn’t love the Irish?  They gave us Leprechauns, shamrocks, Old Bushmill’s Irish Liquor, and of course dear old St. Patrick, the man who  chased the snakes out of Ireland.  Well, at least according to legend; truth is, Ireland never had any snakes to chase away!  Also, he wasn’t from Ireland.  He was of Romano-British birth meaning he was from England.  But who cares where he was from.  He’s the reason that of lot of Irishmen, and others not of Irish descent, set aside one day a year to drink green beer and wear tee shirts that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!”

Oh, yes he was a Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the primary patron saint of the island along with Saints Brigid and Columba.

TRADITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH MARCH 17th

With the above in mind, I thought that I’d take a look at some traditions associated with the feast day of St. Patrick.

MADE IN THE U.S.A?

“St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans.”

Irish-American history expert Timothy Meagher said Irish charitable organizations originally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with banquets in places such as Boston, Massachusetts; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina.

Eighteenth-century Irish soldiers fighting with the British in the U.S. Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick’s Day parades. Some soldiers, for example, marched through New York City in 1762 to reconnect with their Irish roots.

Other parades followed in the years and decades after, including well-known celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, primarily in flourishing Irish immigrant communities.

“It becomes a way to honor the saint but also to confirm ethnic identity and to create bonds of solidarity,” said Meagher, of Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

NEW YAWK, NEW YAWK

Since the festive day falls on a Sunday this year, the annual parade will be held on Saturday the 16th.  The first official St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City was held in 1766 by Irish military men serving in the American colonies. The parade goes up 5th Avenue from 44th to 79th Streets. Despite not allowing floats, autos or exhibits, there are over 150,000 marchers every year.

Until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a minor religious holiday. A priest would acknowledge the feast day, and families would celebrate with a big meal, but that was about it.

NEW ORLEANS

Even though the city was settled by the French, ceded to the Spanish then given back to the French, there is a huge Irish population living there.  Back around the early 1800’s to the beginning of the 20th century,  Irish immigrants began pouring into the Crescent City for a number of reasons.   Many of them settled into an area in the vicinity of the Garden District called the “Irish Channel”.

So naturally this is where most of the activity takes place on March 17th.  Since New Orleans is well known for it’s celebration of Mardi Gras, it stands to reason that it would give as much attention to the patron saint of Erin.  And it does.  Again, “lots ‘o green beer is consumed in the celebration” as well as numerous parades in and around the area.

SHY-TOWN

Probably one of the best known traditions relating to St. Patrick’s day takes place in the city of Chicago, IL. There they fill the Chicago River with green dye.  Just like the recipe for Coca Cola, it’s a closely guarded secret! But seriously, the formula has been thoroughly tested by independent chemists and has been proven safe for the environment.

Unlike other cities, the Parade always occurs on a Saturday. If Saint Patrick’s Day does not fall on a Saturday, the Parade is held the Saturday before. This year’s Parade will be on Saint Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 16th 2013. The Parade always steps off at noon.

What about parade cancellation? Never! Snow, rain or arctic cold, the parade goes on no matter what.

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

Savannah’s Irish connection goes back to the founding of the Georgia colony, a legacy that is honored by a month-long celebration in the coastal city that loves a good time. Groups of Irish were among the diverse group of folks who helped colonize Georgia, so Savannah has a long connection to Ireland. The Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee says the city’s first parade honoring the Irish saint was held in 1813, and it has grown to what is considered the second largest parade in the U.S., behind only New York City. It lasts 3½ hours and attracts about 1 million people, and with the holiday falling on a weekend this year, Savannah’s party might leave other cities green with envy.

I BELIEVE I’LL HAVE ANOTHER

On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout brand, are consumed around the world.

But on St. Patrick’s Day, that number more than doubles to 13 million pints, said Beth Davies Ryan, global corporate-relations director of Guinness.

OTHER IRISH TRADITIONS

I'VE KISSED THE BLRNEY STONE AND I CAN'T GET UP!  I’VE KISSED THE BLARNEY STONE AND I CAN’T GET UP!
OI THINK OIVE DOIED AND GONE TO DOOBLIN!
OI THINK OIVE DOIED AND GONE TO DOOBLIN!
USED BY THE HOLY MAN HIMSELF TO DESCRIBE THE HOLY TRINITY
SHAMROCKS, USED BY THE HOLY MAN HIMSELF TO DESCRIBE THE HOLY TRINITY

Well there you have it. A bird’s-eye view of one of our most beloved Saints and his very own holiday.  Whether you are Catholic or not, Irish or not you really should wear green on March 17th, otherwise if I see you, I’ll pinch you. Top ‘o the day to yah now!

J. O’Boudreaux

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PHOTO CREDITS: BLARNEY STONE, CORNED BEEF, SHAMROCKS

INFORMATION FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES ARE INDICTED BY LINKS TO THOSE SOURCES THROUGHOUT THIS POSTING.

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LEGAL STUFF: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL! All original written material or original graphics are my property (unless otherwise noted), can only be used or reproduced with my written permission and must contain a link or reference to https://contemporarymusings.wordpress.com when use is permitted. ALL LINKS REFERENCED ON cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS ARE UNSOLICITED AND THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG IS NOT COMPENSATED IN ANY FORM, MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE FOR INCLUDING THEM IN ANY POST.

ODDZENENDZ

WARNING: A BRAIN CAN BE A DNGEROUS THING
WARNING: A BRAIN CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING

We’ve all heard the old saying “CAUTION: PUT BRAIN IN GEAR BEFORE SETTING MOUTH IN MOTION” and know that it did not necessarily come from the mind of some wise sage or classical philosopher such as Aristotle.  It probably originated back in the ’50’s when 15-year-old Suzie lashed out at her mother because ” . . . You never let me go to the drive-in-movies with Bobby!”  As we all  know, Bobby was a 16-year-old walking, talking container of raging adolescent male hormones with skin wrapped around it.  You’ll have to trust me on that one!

It got me thinking about some of the phrases that are in common use today in the English language and their origins.  So as I often do, I went to the public library known as the internet.

WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?

HOW MANY YARDS?

How many times a month do we hear the phrase “the whole nine yards” to describe something in its entirety?  I thought that it came from WWII machine gunners in US aircraft in Europe.  When finished with a machine gun belt previously loaded with ammunition, the common response to the question as to whether or not the flier was finished  was “Yes, the whole nine yards. Come to find out it could have, but it aint necessarily so.  Seems that that explanation is one of several possible.

Other speculation ranges from the capacity of a cement truck, to sailing ships and their  deployed sails.  The possibilities are numerous.  Here are just a few:

1.  The amount of cloth in the queen’s bridal train

2. The Shroud of Turin.

3. A joke about a prodigiously well-endowed Scotsman who gets his kilt caught in a door.  (What does a Scotsman wear under his kilt anyway?)

4. A fourth-down play in football.

One explanation is that it is a variation on an old Southern axiom from the turn of the 20th century of similar description, “the whole six yards”, which could describe the length of a parachute line, the diameter of a pitcher’s mound or the amount of material in a Varanasi Sari.  The latter being a woven Indian garment made out of fine silk and bearing elaborate golden embroidery either along the border or all over.  That’s a “stretch” from baseball and skydiving.*

A THORN IN THE FLESH

“A thorn in the flesh” –  This is a phrase of biblical origin which  means a continuous source of difficulty or trouble. The phrase itself can be  found in 2 Corinthians 12:7 where the Apostle Paul writes “To keep me from  becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was  given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (NIV  Version).

No, that one explanation does not count as your bible reading for the day!

HAPPY CLAM CHOWDER ANYONE?

Why would clams be happy? It has been suggested that open clams give the appearance of smiling. The derivation more likely comes from the fuller version of the phrase, now rarely heard – ‘as happy as a clam at high water’. Hide tide is when clams are free from the attentions of predators; surely the happiest of times in the bivalve mollusc world. The phrase originated in the north-eastern states of the USA in the early 19th century. The earliest citation that I can find is from a frontier memoir The Harpe’s Head – A Legend of Kentucky, 1833:

OH SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I'VE FOUND YOU!
OH SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I’VE FOUND YOU!

THE BIRDS AND THE BEES

And I thought it was from Bart Simpson.

This phrase is the name of parents’ traditional responses to their children’s question “where do babies come from?”.  According to an article from phrases.org.uk, “Not that parents usually resort to describing the actual mating of avians or insects – the name is just a generalised allusion to using the habits of creatures that children may be familiar with. I suppose it’s one step further on from ‘the stork brings them’, which was the commonplace reply in the UK when I was a lad. The euphemistic avoidance technique, which may call on references to eggs or the mysterious ‘pollination’, is of course just confusing to children, who are well able to cope with the real ‘facts of life’. This was satirised in The Simpson’s cartoon show, in the episode Homer vs. Patty and Selma, which was first broadcast in February, 1995. The episode includes a scene featuring the ten year old Bart Simpson in happy mood:

Bart: What a day, eh, Milhouse? The sun is out, birds are singing, bees are trying to have sex with them – as is my understanding…

The origin of this phrase is uncertain, which is odd for what is such a common phrase and one that appears to be of fairly recent coinage. A work which is sometimes cited as making the link between birds and bees and human sexuality is Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Work without Hope, 1825:

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair – The bees are stirring – birds are on the wing – And Winter, slumbering in the open air, Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring! And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing, Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.”

AMERICAN GOOD LUCK SIGN?

In January 1968 the American Naval Electronic surveillance Ship, The Pubelo was captured in international waters by the North Koreans and the crew held captive until December of the same year.  While in captivity the crew was photographed giving what they told their captors was a Hawaiian “good luck sign” to indicate to the world that they were okay.  The “good luck” sign was nothing other than the familiar “one finger salute” used today to convey to fellow highway drivers our “best wishes” for a safe journey after they have cut just us off in traffic.

The origin of this popular gesture is in question, but I like the explanation given in the website truthorfiction.com.  Since this is a”G” rated blog, I’ll let you decide if you want to go there or not.  It does have something to do with “Plucking Yew” trees . . . if you catch my drift!

STICK ‘EM UP PARDNER!

The common phrase used to indicate that one desires to sit in the passenger seat of an automobile “riding shotgun” goes back to the Old West . . . well to us boomers who were brought up on Gene, Roy and Hoppy anyway. For those of you reading this who don’t understand, ask Gramps, he’ll give you the lowdown.

In the movies of the forties and eventually tv, riding shotgun meant that one was sitting atop the front end of a stagecoach, next to the driver guarding a strong box laden with gold bullion or coins destined as payroll for the miners, railroad workers, or a deposit for the local First Bank of Dry Gulch.

WET BEHIND THE EARS

To the best of my remembrances, this phrase is usually uttered when someone new has just been assigned to a new group.  Primarily a military outfit.  Imagine the following conversion:

Admiral:  Captain, we’ve just been assigned some new recruits from headquarters.

Captain:  Yes, Admiral, I’ve heard.  A bunch of wet nosed kids, still wet behind the ears.

The term is an allusion to an infant,  immediately after the birth process, being still “wet behind the ears”.

SIGH-O-NARA

That word goes back . . . wait a minute, it’s the Japanese word for goodbye.  Never mind.  Well, that’s all I have time for today kids.  Well, not really.  I’ve got a million more of ’em, but I know that most of you all have real lives.  They’ll be more of them in the future, so don’t despair.

*THE WHOLE NINE YARDS OF WHAT?

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LEGAL STUFF: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL! All original written material or original graphics are my property (unless otherwise noted), can only be used or reproduced with my written permission and must contain a link or reference to https://contemporarymusings.wordpress.com when use is permitted. ALL LINKS REFERENCED ON cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS ARE UNSOLICITED AND THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG IS NOT COMPENSATED IN ANY FORM, MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE FOR INCLUDING THEM IN ANY POST.

VALENTINE’$ DAY

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY 2013
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY 2013

Valentine’s Day.  Ah yes, yet another greeting card/candy/floral industry fabricated holiday to accompany such memorable occasions as Grandparents Day, St. Patrick’s day and, let’s not forget Groundhog day!  I know, I know, we don’t send cards to each other or buy chocolate groundhogs to hand out as gifts to one another, so I won’t blame that one on Hallmark or Russell Stover! 

According to my favorite anonymous source, there really was a guy named Valentinus who was arrested by the Romans because he was performing weddings for soldiers and ministering to the Christians both of  which at the time were against Roman law.  Apparently the first “Valentine” was his farewell note to a young lady he was said to have healed of a sickness while he was in prison.  It was appropriately signed “from your Valentine. “

Oddly enough, it’s not just a memorable day in the west, but also in Scandinavia and Asia.  That’s right my fellow American males, we’re not the only ones responsible for shoring up the economy just after the Christmas madness and wreaking havoc in our “Romantic” relationships!

Since both Christmas and Mardi Gras are behind us, I thought it appropriate to recognize the day that “is considered by some to be a Hallmark holiday (NOT MY WORDS FOLKS) due to its commercialization.”  Note the last word in that last sentence!  So in honor of all our capitalist cronies, I thought that I would list some of the worst Valentine’s Day (which by the way this year falls on February 14th) gifts and ideas that I could muster up!  Enjoy.

WARNING: MINE FIELD AHEAD!
WARNING: MINE FIELD AHEAD!

MY LIST OF TEN WORST VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS AND IDEAS

10.  A Valentine’s Day card to your boyfriend with the following verse:

“Thank you for the fun I had, now you’re going to be a Dad!”

9.  An item of sexy lingerie, size 12 when you know for a fact that she is a size 6.

8. Making a “FaceTime” cellphone call on Valentine’s Day from inside “The Velvet Bunny” gentlemen’s club telling her that you are going to be late for her party.

7.  Giving her a Shotgun.

6.  Forgetting that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and having to make up some lame excuse to run out of the house at the last minute to pay an exorbitant, obscene amount of cash for picked over candy and a card.

5.  Asking her to lend you some money while you run into the florist for a minute . . . on February 14th.

4.  Putting the wrong name with the wrong address on your two girlfriend’s Valentine’s Day cards.

3.  Having a woman who can cook, make mad passionate love, use a chainsaw and drink you under the table and running into all four at the same lounge at the same time on Valentine’s Day.

2. Sending her a four-foot high Teddy Bear (unless it is holding a small box containing no less than a five carat diamond ring).

AND THE NUMBER ONE REALLY, REALLY STUPID MOVE . . .

1. Chocolate . . . in any form!  She may be a “chocaholic”, but you won’t have to feel responsible when she asks  you to answer the question “Honey, do these jeans make me look fat?”

Well, there you have it.  My spin on St. Valentine’s day.  I hope your’s is everything you hoped it would be.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS and I hope that if you liked what you saw, you’ll tell a friend.  If you didn’t, call my customer service hot line at 1-800-555-tufluck.  They’ll send you to Helen Waite, so go to Helen Waite.  Either way, Happy Valentine’s Day.

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2012 AWARDS

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LEGAL STUFF: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL! All original written material or original graphics are my property (unless otherwise noted), can only be used or reproduced with my written permission and must contain a link or reference to https://contemporarymusings.wordpress.com when use is permitted. ALL LINKS REFERENCED ON cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS ARE UNSOLICITED AND THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG IS NOT COMPENSATED IN ANY FORM, MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE FOR INCLUDING THEM IN ANY POST.

MARDI GRAS – A LOCAL’S VIEW – A REPOST FROM 2012

WELL, NOW THAT THE HOOPLA IS OVER, THE COMMERICALS SHOWN, THE RAVENS VICTORIOUS AND THE LIGHTS HAVE BEEN TURNED OUT (THIS TIME ON PURPOSE) AT THE SUPERDOME, IT’S TIME TO GET ON WITH REAL LIFE . . . IT’S MARDI GRAS TIME IN THE BIG EASY!

Not to be lazy or anything like that, I just thought that I’d re-post this one for any new readers that may have found their way to cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS since last year.  Enjoy!

THE MARDI GRAS COLORS

Since posting this several days ago, I ran across a clip from delish.com featuring more Cajun Mardi Gras from Mamou, Louisiana.  Once again, enjoy!

FAT TUESDAY

The traditional day in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana (and a number of other cities in the deep south including Mobile, Alabama) when the locals and tourists prepare for the next forty days of fasting and sacrifice by eating, drinking and making merry.  It’s also goes by the name that many of us are familiar with, Mardi Gras, which translated into English means Fat Tuesday.

There are numerous websites available in cyberspace that you can access to find out the general history of the holiday, but few will explain it from a local’s point of view.

What a lot of folks don’t realize is that Mardi Gras day is really the culmination of many weeks of parades and parties that began on January 6th, Kings Day.  From then until Mardi Gras day, glittery, sometimes lighted, street parades are presented to the citizenry, balls (elaborate dances) are held and the ever popular King cake parties are hosted by individuals fortunate enough to have discovered the plastic baby from the previous week’s party.

This blog is intended to give the reader a glimpse of what the season looks like to native New Orleanians and an explanation of some of the customs a visitor might encounter on their visit to the “Big Easy”.  So, without further ado, I present to you a “Local’s View of Carnival.”

NEW ORLEANS AT ITS PRETTIEST, NEW ORLEANS AT IT’S UGLIEST.  NEW ORLEANS AT ITS BEST, NEW ORLEANS AT ITS WORST.

I say the above with all of the reverence of a new mother fawning over her first offspring.  The Crescent City is one of America’s most interesting cities.  As a matter of fact that was the way it was billed in media publicity about the city for years.  Settled by the French, sold to the Spanish, then given back to the French by the Spanish, its culture is steeped in two historic backgrounds.  The architecture, one of the beautiful qualities, the food and colorful people are all a part of the festivities.

But on the other side of the coin, or in the case of Mardi Gras the doubloon, is the seedy side of the season. The public drunkenness, the rampant use of illegal substances in open spaces, the lewdness, are all part of the ugly side.  I will say, you have to give the NOPD credit for handling well over 3 million people during the entire season and doing it in an orderly fashion.

PURPLE FOR JUSTICE

THE PAGENTRY

The history of Mardi Gras would not be complete without mentioning the parades and the balls.  As a rule, the two go hand in hand, but not always.  A group of individuals, traditionally men,  form a club called a Krewe for which their sole purpose for existing is to celebrate the Mardi Gras season with a parade and a ball.  But, like I said, that is not always the case.  Some Krewes forgo the ball and opt only to have a parade.  In either case, both the ball and the parade are opulent, gaudy, sparkly affairs filled with pageantry fit for a king and queen.  Which, by the way, just happen to preside over both should the Krewe choose to present both.  It’s a known fact that in the cemeteries of New Orleans, more kings and queens are buried than anywhere else in the world.

At one time balls were by invitation only, however today there are many that are open to the public for the price of admission.  The king and queen are presented at court during the ball, then honored on an elaborate float at the head of the ensuing parade.  Sometimes the parades precede the balls.

MARDI GRAS INDIANS

Another unique custom found in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, and on St. Joseph’s Day, is the marching of the Mardi Gras Indians.  If you followed the series TREME on HBO recently, the Indians were  heavily featured.  Legend has it that the slaves who were able to escape the plantations in and around the New Orleans area honored the Indians (mostly Choctaw who lived north of the area) by replicating their garb and customs.  Their hand-made costumes today are some of the most flamboyant exhibited on Fat Tuesday.  Definitely a “must see!”

PARADES

There are things that I could tell you about parades that would make your jaw drop and you would call me a liar to my face.  I usually just chuckle and tell people that you can believe me or not.  Go see for yourself.

One of the more popular traditions is doubloons, colored aluminum coins commemorating the current year’s parade and its theme.  But don’t get in the way of the little old ladies scurrying to retrieve the “precious” booty . . . they’ll stamp on and break your fingers in their attempt!

Or how about the beads?  Some are just plain colored plastic, some are elaborately designed and decorated treasures and they are thrown from the maskers on the floats by the hundreds of dozens.  Sometimes, if you know someone on a float, you can get an entire bag (about the size of a baby pillow or bigger) tossed your way.  What’s funny is that you might live right next door to that person and he could have handed that bag to you in the driveway.  But when he, or she, is on that float they become “Hey Mister!” and catching that bag is a lot more exciting than getting it in the driveway.  Go figure!

Then there is the tawdry side of parades.  You wouldn’t believe what some women will do for a pair of beads.  Yep, certain upper human torsos exposed to a masker on a float will result in copious quantities of beads landing right in the “bosom” of Mardi Gras, if you catch my drift.  I told you, you have to see it to believe it.

And the trash.  You can just imagine the amount of litter left behind after the parades have passed and everyone departs for points beyond.  At one time there was a group which followed parades picking up recyclable waste such as plastic and aluminum.  Amusingly enough they called themselves Committee Recycling After Parades or just CRAP for short.  Of course, they followed the sanitation workers who would clean up the road apples left by the hundreds of horses used by the Krewes and police.  One way for the city to judge just how successful Mardi Gras day was and how much fun was had by all is to weigh the amount of garbage collected on Bourbon Street on Wednesday morning just after midnight.

And we cannot forget about the Flambeau Carriers.  At one time, before street lights and lighted floats, night-time parades illuminated their floats with kerosene torches (flambeaus) mounted atop wooden poles which were carried by African-Americans who were paid a minimum wage for their service.  To add a little excitement to the festivities, the carriers would dance in time to the music of the marching bands.  Spectators who were entertained would throw coins to reward them for their entertainment.  The tradition is still carried on today by many of the Krewes who parade in the evening.

KING CAKES

Basically a coffee cake, whether stuffed with fruit filling, cream cheese or plain, are a must for the locals and visitors alike.  They are baked in an oval shape and decorated with the traditional colors of Mardi Gras which are purple, green and gold and glazing similar to that of a common doughnut.  The unique characteristic of a king cake is the baby, pecan or bean hidden inside.  Tradition has it that the person finding the object is expected to host the next party.  King cakes are not diet food by any stretch of the imagination and can be purchased from any bakery, sometimes year round, in the greater New Orleans area.  When in the city, you have to try a piece, or maybe two.

Flambeau Carrier and Fireman

BOURBON STREET

Remember what I told you about calling me a liar?  Just go down to Bourbon Street in the heart of the Vieux Carre (French for Old Square).  That’s if you can get on Bourbon Street.  During the height of the crowds on Fat Tuesday, there is no way that you could possibly fall down on the ground.  And if you do happen to fall down, just make sure you have good medical coverage.

Body parts, both real and of the costume variety, abound on the street not named for the liquor, but for the Bourbon Kings of France.  Just don’t take the kids there if you don’t want them to see “Grey’s Anatomy” (and a few other people’s anatomy) first hand.  Women up on the balconies of the hotels show off their . . . er . . . how do I put this gently???? . . . er . . . womanhood, yes, womanhood,  at the requests of onlookers on the ground.  Yeah, I know I can hear you now, “J. You’re a liar!!!!!”  Hah, hah, hah, chuckle, chuckle.  Don’t believe me??? Okay I won’t even begin to tell you about the . . . oh, oh here we go again, drag que . . . er. . . fake women!  BTW, the men get in on the body parts exposure by responding to “Where’s the beef?”

GOLD FOR POWER

CAJUN MARDI GRAS

In the communities to the south and southwest of New Orleans, in the land of the “Cajuns”, Mardi Gras traditions vary from those in the big city.  One custom is for masked horseback riders to travel from farmhouse to farmhouse, guns ablazing, demanding from the inhabitants ingredients to make native food dishes.  Most of the time the result is a  pot of delicious, hot, gumbo to which all the ingredient suppliers were invited to partake.  Of course, as with many Cajun customs, it’s all done in the spirit of fun.  Laisse Le Bon Ton Rouler, chere’!

FINALLY

CLICK HERE FOR A BRIEF GLIMPSE INTO THE MADNESS featuring the Krewe of ZULU and the Southern University Marching Band

SEE I TOLD YOU YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE ME!

MARDI GRAS 2013 FEBRUARY 12th

So there you have it, a local’s view of the celebration of Mardi Gras New Orleans style.  If you are planning to go this year and stay right in the middle of the hubbub, you’re too late.  You should have made your reservations last Mardi Gras day.  You might be lucky enough to get a room in St. Louis, but that’s kind of a long way off!  But if you do go, have a great time and don’t take any wooden nickels.  On second thought, yes, do take wooden nickels, sometimes they’re thrown from the floats as souvenirs.

For more information see:

Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide

New Orleans Online

New Orleans Visitors and Convention Bureau

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LEGAL STUFF: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. All original written material or original graphics are my property (unless otherwise noted), can only be used or reproduced with my written permission and must contain a link or reference to https://contemporarymusings.wordpress.com when use is permitted. ALL LINKS REFERENCED ON cONTEMPORARY mUSINGS ARE UNSOLICITED AND THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG IS NOT COMPENSATED IN ANY FORM, MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE.

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PHOTOGRAPHS: WWW.FREEFOTO.COM  — FLAMBEAU CARRIERS – http://blog.carnivalneworleans.com/?p=166  — VIDEO  WWW.YOUTUBE.COM