Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

My apologies for the lack of posting the past few days.  In fact, I was on traveling on biznay this week and forgot to mention it beforehand.   Now that I’m back, how about a little wander-random?

***  Robbo’s biznay took him to the great state of Louisiana this time, a place I’ve never visited before.  I know that my sample size was very small, but everyone I talked to there eventually got round to a little lecture on the fact that Louisiana is really three states in one:  the northern part (north of I-10), which is essentially an extension of the Deep South, the Creole culchah of Noo Awlins and surrounding environment, and the Cajun rest-of-the-south-that-ain’t-Noo Awlins.  In fact, I’ve heard and read this a number of times before, including in the writings of my favorite modern Catholic Apologist, John Zmirak.  I won’t say that I picked up any actual animosity from the champeens of each region toward the others, but there was some pretty healthy jockying for pride of place.

***Curious, that.  As regular friends of the decanter will know, ol’ Robbo grew up in Texas, a state that can easily be split into five distinct regions.  Folks all knew about this, but I don’t recall people carrying on about it so much.  Perhaps it’s because Looziana is so much smaller that people there feel the need to elbow more.

***One fellah went a step further, noting that northwestern Looziana was part of an even more particular sub-culchah, the so-called Ark-La-Tex socio-economic region.  “Oh, yes,” I replied brightly, “I’m a big fan of Charles Portis – the fellah who wrote True Grit?  He’s a native, you know, and incorporates the Ark-La-Tex history and ethos into much of his writing.”  At this, the fellah’s eyes took on a wary, hunted look.  I get that a lot.

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention, for those Portis sharks out there, that teh Mothe tipped me off to a book she just discovered: Rooster: The Life and Time of the Real Rooster Cogburn, the Man Who Inspired True Grit by Brett Cogburn.  She reports that this book, if nothing else, uncovers the enormous depth of research that Portis did in order to get T.G. absolutely bang right.

***Anyhoo, I flew in and out of Shreveport.  From what I saw of it from the highway, it seems to consist primarily of casinos.  Sigh.  To me, that’s a mark of economic desperation, as well as being the municipal equivalent of selling one’s soul to the devil.  I’ve no problem with gambling per se (although I’ve no interest in it either), but on an industrial basis, I consider it to be very, very wicked.

*** Oh, and speaking of flying,  I’ve spent a goodish bit of time in recent years in and out of various regional airports – Shreveport, Mobile, Montgomery, even Des Moines for that matter – and I can’t help noticing that they all look very, very much alike.   (Not that this is a phenom confined to smaller cities.  A few years back, I had to fly in and out of Tampa repeatedly.  In the midst of these journeys, I also had to fly once to Orlando.  The airport there looks so much like the one in Tampa that for one hideous moment I thought I’d got on the wrong flight by accident.)

***Also speaking of flying, may I just point out to the editors of the ‘Murican Airlines in-flight magazine crossword that on a sailing vessel, a mast is not a beam, dammit.

***And on the subject of crosswords, has anyone else noticed how the books of said puzzles are rapidly vanishing from airport bookstores?  I had to hunt through half a dozen such stores in three different airports before I finally found a decent one.  (Note to self:  Order some from the devil’s website ahead of time next trip.)   It was lucky that I did, too.  Because of the nasty weather across the Mississippi and Ohio valleys last evening, my flight home from Dallas got vectored along teh Gulf Coast, not hooking north until we got to Florida, so what is normally a flying time of two hours and change turned into three plus.   I managed to snag what turned out to be the last mini-bottle of merlot and buried myself in my crosswords for the duration.  What I would have  done otherwise, I can’t imagine.

*** I stayed in a Holiday Inn-Express that was clean, quiet and quite comfy, although they seemed to think that one had absolutely no business being in one’s room during the middle of the day.  Anyhoo, I don’t know if this is the case elsewhere, but I couldn’t help noticing that the pillowcases on my bed were embroidered, embroidered mind you! with the words “soft” and “firm”.   Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you!  Have we really reached the point of infantilization in this country where somebody feels the pillows need to be labeled in order for us to figure them out?  (Years ago, Letterman had a top ten list that included a joke about socks coming with instructions.  It was funny.  Then.)

***And speaking of infantilization, I once again couldn’t help reflecting that if people who consider themselves to be “informed” get their news from CNN and USELESS Today, no wonder we’re in the state we are.

***Finally, a curious and amusing pair of incidents.   Wednesday lunchtime found me standing in line at a Wendy’s, gawping myopically at the menu and trying to decide whether the ol’ tummy could handle teh spicy chicken sammich.   Realizing I was in the way, I waved the people behind me – a woman and her teenaged daughter – ahead.  A few minutes later, as I was waiting for my order, the woman leaned over and said, “My daughter thinks you look like a professor.”  It was a college town.  And I was dressed in khakis and a button-down Oxford with rolled up sleeves.  And my hair does need cutting.  And I was wearing my fish-bowl glasses.  So I suppose the mistake was natural.  Nonetheless, as I always had daydreams about going into academics¹, I could have shaken the kid’s hand if I didn’t think it would cause alarum and confusion.  Instead, I smiled and said, “Oh! Well, actually not.  But thank you!”

Next day, as I was coming down the elevator at the hotel to leave, I got passing the time of day with a lanky, craggy old man who let on that he was a soon-to-be-retired mashed potato salesman.  (I kid you not.)  I was again dressed in Oxford shirt and khakis, with blazer over arm and bags hung about me.  The fellah eyed me and said, “By the look of ye, I’d reckon you’re in a similar business yourself.”   This time, I simply chuckled to myself and said, “Oh…..something like that.”

Cheers!

¹ Not that I would consider it now.  For one thing, I’ve long known that I have almost no talent for teaching whatsoever.  (It’s a gift.  You’re either born with it or not.  Mrs. R has it in spades.)  For another, the transmogrification of the Liberal Arts from the study and appreciation of the canon of Western Civilization to balkanized grievance-mongering is almost complete.  For a third, there is no more vicious a shark tank than that of academic politics – and I say this as a lawyer of many years’ experience.

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