28 February 2010

Funny Talented Dancing Traffic Cop

From Denny: You are going to enjoy this talented guy. He finds ways to chase away the boredom of the job - and stays in shape doing it!

This video comes from CBS Sunday Morning show. They had profiled the Rhode Island, USA, traffic officer back last summer. CBS followed up with comedian Mo Rocca interviewing him this past Christmas season.

Here I am in February - and still laughing!

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27 February 2010

Funny Best of the Week Political Cartoons 27 Feb 2010

From Denny: Every week I collect the best political cartoons and roll them into one funny post. To best enjoy them on a wider blog template that displays well, go here:

Funny Political Cartoons: Political Olympics, Broken Government, Lampooning Toyota - 27 Feb 2010

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26 February 2010

7 Quick Tips to Happiness: Banish Late Winter Blues

From Denny: I'm lucky enought to be living in south Louisiana this winter. We had a little snow that melted off, unlike the rest of the country that got buried in snow. Even the nation's capitol had to shut down Congress for all the heavy snow.

A few days ago I heard a bird singing for the first time in months. For south Louisiana it's early Spring, even though the lawn is brown from hibernation and there are frosts some nights. Hearing that bird singing certainly gave my mood a lift from all the dreary landscape. The day lilies are beginning to push up from their winter sleep along with the irises. The azaleas are budding to flower in a month or so. Ah, relief! What a seasonal change can do for your spirits!

Since many of you are still stuck with a late winter and the dreary days I thought these happiness tips for boosting your attitude would be helpful right about now. This health news video was originally run in January at the beginning of winter but somehow now seems like better timing.

New York Magazine carried a 50 Steps to Simple Happiness article when they discovered from a study that New Yorkers are dead last when it comes to happiness.

Here are some simple suggestions to improving your attitude to get you to that happiness level you seek and the reasons behind the simple action.

Make your bed. No kidding. When you make your bed you have controlled your environment and helped to calm yourself. You have also accomplished something early in the day too.

Random acts of kindness. Try putting a quarter in someone else's parking meter even if they don't see it. Help a mother with a stroller in the subway. Little acts of kindness do a lot to give your mood a lift, even without external praise.

Elevators. Quit texting for social interaction or checking your email on your Blackberry and start making small talk to your fellow riders. That little interaction will do wonders to lift your mood.

Think like a shark, act like a five year old. Keep your mind sharp on a daily basis. Make sure you get up from your desk and move around a lot - like a little kid does all day long. Exercise helps keep oxygen flowing to the brain to keep it sharp. Exercise also releases those happy endorphins to elevate our mood.

Color. Paint your walls a sunny yellow because color theory tells us it will lift our mood. Scent is important too like the aroma of cucumbers and green apples is an immediate attitude adjuster.

Sex. Hey, it's what makes the world go 'round and makes everyone happy! Remember to quit scheduling yourself with too many projects. Take the time and say yes to your partner every time.

Chocolate. An ounce of dark chocolate a day every day doesn't hurt either. See Romancing The Chocolate blog for great recipes! :)

From Sarah Bernard, contributing editor to New York Magazine:

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25 February 2010

90 Second Health Boost Tips

From Denny: Prevention Magazine offers some simple 90 Second Health Boost tips. Some are preventions for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Others are how to handle current conditions like high cholesterol or hot flashes from menopause.

We all require at least 7 hours of sleep a night and daily exercise. Many of us complain there are just not enough hours in the day to do all we need to do for our health. Well, these ideas are simple and quick, requiring only about two minutes of your time.

Want to fight cancer? Then eat an apple a day. Studies have found that eating the peel helps fight breast, colon and liver cancers. Be sure to go for the organic version as apples can contain some of the most pesticides. Apples are also great for reducing inflammation like sinus conditions, helps with colds and is good for your lungs.

Want to cut that high cholesterol? Try introducing pistachio nuts into your salads often. On a daily basis it can reduce cholesterol by as much as almost 7% and that cuts heart disease risk by 14%. Just watch the portion level as they do have a lot of calories in their fat.

Want to reduce inflammation for conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart disease? Get serious about a lot of servings of whole grains into your diet and watch the inflammation go down, down, down.

Want to reduce those hot flashes from menopause? The answer is deep belly breathing, those cleansing yoga breaths. This level of breathing reduces the incidents of hot flashes by as much as 50%.

Want to protect against food borne illness in your fridge? Yeah, that's a little scary. Make sure you keep your fridge temperature lower than 40 degrees F. Purchase a refrigerator thermometer to ensure accuracy and you will make sure bacteria can't multiply in your house!

Want to stop those constant headaches? You may not realize it but your posture, or bad posture, can create all those many headaches. Slouching or hunched over a computer desk can create headaches. How does that happen? When our head juts forward we are forced to lift up our eyes. When we do that it constricts the nerves and muscles at the base of the neck and causes headaches.

To avoid headaches, watch your posture in profile. Take a look and line up your ear over your shoulder for proper alignment. Lift your head to avoid headaches, as if your head is on a string and pulled up - like dancers are taught.

Liz Vaccariello from Prevention Magazine:

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24 February 2010

8 Funny Advice Quotes About Sleeping

Sleeping lion Photo by travlinman43 @ flickr

From Denny: Here's a sampling of the funny quotes about the subject of sleep for you to get a chuckle of the moment. For the full huge post of funnies with great photos over at The Social Poets for Cheeky Quote Day, go here.

The best Life advice:

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night. - William Blake

Never work just for money or for power. They won't save your soul or help you sleep at night. - Marian Wright Edelman

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. - Herman Melville

Sleeping boy at the table where sometimes sleep wins out over food Photo by indi.ca @ flickr

Best Interesting Observations:

Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone. - Anthony Burgess

From time immemorial artistic insights have been revealed to artists in their sleep and in dreams, so that at all times they ardently desired them. – Paracelsus

We are not hypocrites in our sleep. - William Hazlitt

Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death. - Arthur Schopenhauer

There is only one thing people like that is good for them - a good night's sleep. - Edgar Watson Howe

*** For the full huge post of funnies with great photos over at The Social Poets for Cheeky Quote Day, go here.

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23 February 2010

Are You Sleep Deprived? Smart Tips 4 Sound Sleep

*** Lack of good sleep can create serious health problems. Here are some simple steps to better sleep every night.

From Denny: We all have busy lives and sometimes can't sleep. With the rising unemployment and chaotic economy of late people are awake in the middle of the night, worrying about how to pay the bills. Stop. Getting your sleep is more important than ever when you are experiencing stress. Enough sleep will help give you the energy and good frame of mind to solve the problems of the day. Treat the business of achieving sound sleep like a job you love - with passion.

Survey of the sleep deprived

Self Magazine did a survey of its readers and found that 60% sleep less than 7 hours a night. 34% experience trouble falling asleep several times a month. 49% wake up often in the middle of the night and then cannot return to sleep.

What is keeping people awake in the night?

What is keeping most Americans awake nights? One third can't sleep because of the anxiety of the day, their minds are still worrying about work because they are worried about making enough money to pay the bills.

What happens when we sleep 7 or less hours a night?

What are the statistics on sleeping 6 to 7 hours a night or less? Not good. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night will cause you to gain weight. So, if you want to diet, then start sleeping more than 7 hours a night! At less than 7 hours a night you are also three times more likely to catch a cold.

When we are sleep deprived we tend to overeat easily and choose all the wrong foods like sweet or salty foods instead of complex carbohydrates.

What happens when we sleep 6 hours or less a night?

At 6 hours or less sleep a night our body and brain suffers worse. Especially, if it goes on for more than two weeks in a row. What can happen to us is that sleep deprivation impairs our memory, our reaction time like when driving a car and hurts our cognition. The college student who stays up all night before an exam always does worse than the student who studied the night before and then got enough sleep before the exam. In fact, going for two weeks on less than 6 hours of sleep a night is the equivalent of pulling two all nighters in a row. By then you are one whipped puppy, dragging and exhausted.

Did you know how sleep is helpful?

Getting enough Zzzzs can do the following for you:

* prevent cancer
* prevent weight gain
* fend off colds
* improve memory
* improve athletic performance

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Smart sleep tips:

Quality sleep can make us calmer, happier and healthier during our waking hours. It's important to start winding down one to two hours before going to bed. Here are some ideas to help you in the transition of your busy day into your night of good sleep.

* Dim lights and turn off technology one to two hours before bed. Sometimes, as a compromise when we are watching a favorite TV show right before bed, I start the sleep process by dimming the lights, locking the doors, feeding the pets about two hours before bed time. The dishwasher gets turned on as we climb into bed as what we laughingly call "the dishwasher lullaby." Our brains are trained to sleep by it.

* Start your winding down process one to two hours before bed. This is not the time to be active and empty the dishwasher and then get on a cleaning binge.

* Plan a routine, and stick to it, of when to go to bed and when to wake up and keep to it every day. Consistency is the key to getting regular sleep.

* Remember to unplug from your computer gadgets as that intense light tricks the brain into thinking it's sunlight and so the brain stays awake and alert.

* Skip your afternoon coffee. We all know it's a stimulant but did you know that caffeine can stay in our systems for up to 8 hours?

* Pass on that bed time glass of wine too. It may initially help you to relax but it soon acts as a stimulant. Alcohol also interrupts the brain's chemicals for sleep. It can also severely alter your breathing patterns, sometimes dangerously so.

* Try the hot bath idea if you are having trouble winding down from a particularly stressful day.

* Meditation or prayer time is always a helpful idea right before bed. It gives the brain a task to occupy it as you slow your breathing and then your brain relaxes too, calming and preparing to rest the body.

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* A good idea is to keep the TV out of the bedroom. Your brain will gravitate to that magnetic field it emits and stay partially awake because of the light too. The end result is crankiness the next day and every day. If you are wondering why you feel tired a few hours after you wake up in the morning or are grumpy that could be one of the factors. Your brain was never able to get fully rested.

* The deeper stages of sleep require a cooler temperature in the bedroom. Turning down the heat, especially in your bedroom, assists the brain that is turning down the body's thermostat.

* If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night, then lose the clock. We all know that clock watching is a surefire way to end up awake all night. Of course, if you feel really revved up, then get up and go read a book. Sometimes, the brain just gets snagged and needs something different to help it change gears.

There are times I just use that time to pray. Most times that's what it is as your spirit wakes your conscious mind to pray. Go with the flow. Other times when I'm enegetic for no apparent reason in the middle of the night I realize I'm supposed to get up to write and come up with some wonderful creativity!

* Keep a journal by your bed for those creative thoughts or worry thoughts. Sometimes, I get snatches of a poem or phrases for an article for about an hour or two after going to bed. So, I just record them in my journal. As soon as I've done that my brain feels satisfied that the creative stuff got recorded for later development the next day - and then I drift off into a sound sleep.

If you are the worrying type, then record those worries of the day in your night time journal. Take a look at them the next day and start solving the problems. Somehow, they look easier the next day after you have fully rested.

Whatever you do, treat sleep like you are owning a precious jewel: get it insured by creating your best routine for a quality experience.

*** For some fun, check out:

Funny Make You Grin in Your Sleep Quotes - Cheeky Quote Day 24 Feb 2010

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20 February 2010

42 Funny Cartoons: Olympics, Obama, Obstructionists, Obesity and You - 20 Feb 2010

From Denny: Lots of funny cartoons this week by cartoonists using the Olympic theme as a metaphor for politics and more. Plenty of grins!

Unfortunately, on this blog's template these very wide cartoons don't display well, cutting off about 20% on the right - often where the joke line is depicted. Since you don't want to miss out on all the fun from the best of this week's political humor from some of the best cartoonists in the world, I'm providing a link to those blogs with wider templates to view these cartoons properly.

Yeah, I know, why don't I just shrink them? Can't. You aren't allowed to change the original embed code. One of these days these guys will realize they need to offer two sizes for bloggers. Until then you can enjoy them over at The Social Poets every Saturday! :) (I do keep a regular link on this blog over to The Social Poets in case you forget.)

The Social Poets - 42 Funny Cartoons: Olympics, Obama, Obstructionists, Obesity and You - 20 Feb 2010

Additional blogs where the cartoons are featured for this week:

Dennys Funny Quotes

Visual Insights photo blog

Unusual 2 Tasty food blog

Ouch Outrageous Obnoxious And Odd

Take a look at two of this week's offerings:

Obama meeting with the Dalai Lama enraged the control freak Chinese:


42 Funny Cartoons: Olympics, Obama, Obstructionists, Obesity and You - 20 Feb 2010

Additional blogs where the cartoons are featured for this week:

Dennys Funny Quotes

Visual Insights photo blog

Unusual 2 Tasty food blog

Ouch Outrageous Obnoxious And Odd

*** THANKS for visiting, come back often, feel welcome to drop a comment or opinion, a huge shout out to awesome current subscribers - and if you are new to this blog, please subscribe!

19 February 2010

Cinderella Makeup Artist Lauren Luke Goes Viral

From Denny: What an inspiring story this one is about a British 27 year old single mother with no friends. She worked as a taxi dispatcher. Not exactly the kind of environment with people to get to know inside the office; she was the office.

But she loved makeup and got creative one day. While she playing around in her bedroom, and using herself as a model, she turned on her video cam and taped her demo of applying eye shadow for a smokey eye. On a whim, she uploaded it to YouTube. Within the first few hours she experienced thousands of views. Well, that so encouraged her, as she felt she was connecting with so many people, that she started creating more videos.

What happened over the course of a year? She received millions of views and a few thousand dollars income for it. YouTube got excited about her view levels and connected her to some advertisers and the rest is history.

What is she doing now? Two years later she now has developed her own makeup line and travels between Europe and America demonstrating it. She's having the time of her life - and plenty of new friends to show for it.

This is the coolest Cinderella story. Not bad to go from nowhere and struggling financially to a millionaire, all before she turned thirty. Of course, it wasn't a calculated move but rather she followed her passion and love of creating with makeup. Take a look at her story:

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17 February 2010

Springs New Ruffle Loose and Sophisticated: 4 Ways to Wear It

From Denny: The weather is starting to cooperate and turn a bit warmer, melting all that annoying snow here and there. Your mind turns to "maybe I can wear real clothes now instead of piling on the winter gear." The clothing trend this Spring is frilly! Not to worry, it isn't weird or too girly but all grown up and sophisticated is the fashion take designers took on ruffles this year.

Designers have been playing with fabric like your toddler does with toys and having great fun. The result of their creativity is the modern update for ruffles is that the ruffle is longer, looser, even twisted and turned, creating very relaxed and easy to wear styles. For the unexpected are those nonperfect puckers that come across as elegant. The beauty of this modern take on ruffles is their versatility so you can dress them up or down: to work or on the weekends with jeans.

4 Styles of Frilly this season

Fashion-forward frills

Normally, the traditional ruffle is so excessive in its flourish that it is not considered work appropriate. However, the new abstract take this season on the ruffle makes it wearable to the office. If you are in a conservative environment with menswear-inspired as the rule this year's ruffle can give you a bit of a feminine twist for your wardrobe.

This new take on ruffles are larger folds that lie flat but add depth and movement yet without feeling frilly. Asymmetrical layers like these ruffles help soften structured suits and skirts and carve out some curves in all the right places. Make sure to add a belt to tame that possible volume on cardigans and blouses.

Featured in the video: Ruffled wrap top, $49, Loehmann's; Tiered ruffle skirt, $89.90, Zara.com

Pretty and preppy

Sometimes, casual wear can look just too plain vanilla and uninspired. This season focus on smaller details and update some of your casual cotten and easy knits to give them some flair with visual interest. Those tiny elements of texture on a simple T-shirt or a menswear button-down shirt with a tuxedo-like ruffle trim can do the trick without resorting to accessories.

Even this season's accessories are getting into the act with ruffles, puckers and pleats! Remember to keep your total look in mind and moderate just how much you embrace any new trend. A few touches of a good thing often create more stylish impact than too much flourish. Leave the excess to when you come down to visit me in south Louisiana and we blow it out over at the New Orleans Mardi Gras! :)

Featured in the video: Cascading Rose T-shirt, $45; Jcrew.com, Slim fit white jeans, $59.90, Mango.com; Deux lux ruffle handbag, $68, Urbanoutfitters.com

Trendy tiers

Some of the harsher, edgy and sharply tailored looks like biker jackets, knee-length boots and studded handbags are getting ruffles this season. Even if you might normally wear a very sleek look, a few items from this season's offerings can give your wardrobe that fluid flowing benefit that only a soft item can provide.

These new long layers look easy and modern, pairing well with tough fabrics and sharp tailoring, making you more approachable. Who wants to scare off a possible great mate? :) The reverse is true of the sharply tailored looks: they help balance soft flowing lines, taming a billowy look. I'm a big fan of contrast to create balance in a wardrobe. It keeps things interesting and people asking, "Where did you get that?"

Featured in the video: AK Anne Klein Blouse, $29.99, TJMaxx.com; Faux leather blazer, $24.95, Hm.com

For children: Look 1 — Kiddo USA ruffle tank, $8, Tjmaxx.com; denim leggings, $18, Macys.com; Sneakers, $30, Zara.com; Look 2 — Scooter Brown T-shirt, $7, Tjmaxx.com; denim jacket, $37.50, sequin scarf, $10, Macys.com; ruffle skirt, $20, Zara.com; leggings, $9, Oldnavy.com; Skechers Twinkle Toes sneakers, $39.99, Jcpenney.com

Dressy and delicate

In the Fall season we embraced structured, architectural styles. Well, this Spring season we all need a breather, something more whimsical and a bit softer. Don't even allow your mind to go to the typed cast vision of ruffles: little girls in pink poufy party dresses. This season ruffles grew up: think more classic muted tones like blush, rose and palest blues. Sophisticated colors build a stage for those perfect subtle details to be a stand out.

Check out how layered ruffles from delicious fabrics like lace and chiffon weave this airy transparency. It's those raw edges that give these vintage-inpsired versions their modernity. Even a trench coat gets cascading edges or a wonderful wrap gifts drama to a very simple classic black dress for that special occasion.

Featured in this video: Ruffle dress, $129, Zara.com; Silk ruffle trench, $228, Anntaylor.com

Check out how there are four different ways to wear this season's new take on frilly from style editor Bobbie Thomas who is also author of The Buzz column for In Touch Weekly. Explore with her new ways to embrace this textured trend!

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16 February 2010

Shoveling snow? Protect your back and your heart

From Denny: This winter season, aptly nicknamed Snowmageddon by President Obama, has been a doozie all across the country. Snow and ice bedevil driving on the roads and walking to our own mailboxes. After a snow storm people get out and shovel this heavy, wetter snow and it ends up causing tens of thousands of shoulder and back injuries every year in the United States. Several hundred heart attacks also occur.

Doctors saw over 70,000 shovel-related injuries serious enough to trigger a doctor's visit in 2008, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Shoveling snow isn't a daily activity for most people and the exertion, very cold weather and then slippery surfaces makes for a deadly combination.

Snow shoveling "is one of the most high-intensity exercises you can do," says Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. "You're using all your major muscle groups."

Here are some tips for thoughtful precautions for your back - and your heart since this is an aerobic activity - during and after shoveling snow.

Let's deal with the main issue: back pain

Lower back strain is the usual suspect, leading the top of the list for snow shovelers. "That's when a muscle gets over-tensioned and tightens. If it over-tightens, it's almost like a spasm and that gets very painful," according to Dr. Henry Goitz, an orthopedic surgeon at Henry Ford Hospital, in Detroit, Michigan, and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Herniated disk is the second most common injury during snow season, says Dr. Victor Khabie, the co-chief of orthopedic surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital, in Mount Kisco, New York. What's a herniated disk you ask? The common term it's known as is a "slipped disk." That's when one of the soft disks between the vertebrae of your spine decides to get out of position and then complains of its displacement by pushing on a nerve, causing severe pain.

How can you tell how severe is the disk injury? It's a bad sign, says Dr. Khabie, when that back pain also radiates down your leg. "That may mean you have ruptured or herniated a disk."

Sedentary lifestyle

Sedentary people and frigid weather are a recipe for back injuries. "The shoveling tends to be done by people who are not otherwise in good shape," says Dr. Richard Pomerantz, a professor of medicine in cardiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in Rochester, New York. "Sometimes a potato chip is the heaviest thing they've lifted for a while."

Ice lurking under the top layer of snow is dangerous

People can "experience very bad fractures from slipping on the hidden ice frozen under the snow," advises Dr. Evalina L. Burger, a vice chair and associate professor of orthopedics at the University of Colorado, in Denver, Colorado. "The worst thing is a fall," she says. "It's not just old people who fall."

Heart attacks

Heart attacks that occur during shoveling snow do tend to be rare. Doctors believe it is the combination of heavy exertion and cold weather. Why is this so? Both the aerobic, and weight-lifting component, especially years when heavy, wet snow occurs, can raise your blood pressure. All this combines to quickly increase the load upon the heart when the heart is not accustomed to it.

By increasing the load to the heart in cold weather when your arteries and vessels tend to constrict which causes the relative blood supply to go down at a time when your heart requires more. It's a case of supply and demand - the demand is too high for the supply available. Sometimes, a heart attack will occur when the heart is too stressed.

Guess what else contributes to a possible heart attack? We have hormones that are released during cold weather and when exercising that can cause built up plaques - those ugly fatty deposits that line artery walls - to rupture, causing either dangerous blood clots or heart attacks.

The time of day for snow shoveling is important to your heart

Most people get out there early in the morning and start shoveling. It's not a good idea, according to a 1996 study in the American Journal of Cardiology. Did you know that the early morning is when the risk for heart attack is higher? So, pick a better time of the day when your heart is ready.

Snow Shovelers Smart Rules

1. The obvious: stay in good physical shape year round.

2. Take the exercise slow by warming up to it. Do some stretching exercises, especially the hamstrings, before you go out and tackle the snow. Some core-strengthening exercises are wise as well like mini sit-ups, crunches which work and warm those lower back muscles to stretch.

3. The ant eating the elephant philosophy works well in this situation. You have to be methodical and deliberate if you want to avoid serious injury. Only shovel small amounts of snow, especially if it's heavy snow, for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, especially if you are not used to exercising or have experienced a back issue in the past. The key is to go back inside where it's warm and do some more stretching exercises for another 10 minutes to help your muscles.

4. Watch your shoveling form as closely as you watch how you weight lift at the gym. Proper technique is smart to avoid injury. It's advised to push the shovel full of snow instead of lifting it. When you go to lift the shovel, go into a knee squat with your back arched as if you are looking upward at the sky. Whatever you do, please don't bend from the waist as that puts incredible pressure on your lower back.

So, how do you handle the technique of disposing of the snow off your shovel? Keep the shovel close to your body and squat with your legs. Let your legs do the work instead of your back.

Make sure you walk over to the dumping area instead of thinking it's OK to just lean over and fling or throw the snow. Rotating or twisting your body increases risk of terrible back injury, unless, of course, you want a herniated disk to happen.

5. Pick a well-designed ergonomic shovel as your tool for the job. Properly designed tools are worth the money as they take the stress off your back. A shovel with a bent handle will give you a better angle where you don't have to go down as far or go all the way back up. Read that as less work.

6. Another way to protect against injury or strained muscles is to layer up with warm clothing. Getting too cold will tighten up your muscles. That's why you want to exercise first before going out and follow up with layers of warm clothing to keep in the heat on those muscles so they will perform better.

7. Make sure you wear snow boots that have good traction treads on them. If your feet slip it can throw off your balance, maybe land you on some ice that can cause a fracture. In the long run, it's less expensive to invest in good quality winter foot wear than spend a lot more at the doctor's office fixing a bad injury.

As far as foot wear goes, in the coldest parts of the country, you might want to keep handy a few essentials like a set of spikes in your car. They only take a couple of minutes to put on and sure beats six weeks off from work if you end up injured.

8. Most of all just practice simple common sense, especially if you are out of shape or elderly. Outsource the job to a neighborhood teenager who is in shape. It's worth the small amount of money.

Considerations before shoveling snow:

history of heart disease
history of back injuries
history of diabetes
history of high blood pressure

9. Before the snow melts this season, file these tips away, tied to your snow shovel for when next year's snow storm hits you will be ready with your game face on! :)

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15 February 2010

Funny Mardi Gras Quotes, Who Dat Rocking Saints Songs

*** New Orleans knows how to celebrate! Join the fun, listen to the rocking great Saints songs from hip hop to country, laugh at the outrageous costumes eagerly anticipated during Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, and, oh yeah, read some funny and serious Mardi Gras quotes to learn how the custom developed over time. Marvel at the resiliency of the people through tough times.

From Denny: Oh, to explain the Louisiana culture to someone who has never visited... :) It can get a bit raucous during the Mardi Gras Carnival season. The most family friendly parades are in Lafayette, the capital city of Baton Rouge and the smaller venues throughout the state if that's your preference.

Though since Hurricane Katrina many neighborhoods in New Orleans have organized their own more family friendly parades to counterbalance the general debauchery that tends to go on more from the tourists than the locals during Carnival season. Yeah, that's what we tell ourselves every year... :)

Day time Mardi Gras parade photo by sfmission.com @ flickr

Fine art Melon Babe by Infrogmation @ flickr

Right now Mardi Gras started early with the Super Bowl win of the Cinderella team the New Orleans Saints. What a celebration it is! The whole state stayed awake the night of the win as none of us could sleep even if we weren't partying in the French Quarter.

The word is over 270 Baton Rouge teachers called in sick Monday morning after the win because they partied just a little too much in New Orleans after the Super Bowl win. That's the beauty of living in Baton Rouge. Within an hour's drive you can party to the east in New Orleans or go west and party in Lafayette where they host some wonderful international music festivals.

Rocking great song captures the spirit of New Orleans:

The parade thrown last night for the Saints was nothing short of spectacular as Mardi Gras folks threw it together literally on a moment's notice. Trust me; no one in America, not even the Macy's Parade organization could have put together a full blown parade this fast. New Orleans is accustomed to living on the edge and rose to the occasion.

Country version of New Orleans song:

This video is from right before the Saints won against the Arizona Cardinals in a play-off game for the NFC Championship Title - after that was won another win against the Minnesota Vikings, sending the Saints to the Super Bowl - another unexpected win! Watch it just to learn about why the fans are wearing paper bags over their heads during the games. :)

Enjoy the funny costumes from Mardi Gras this year!

Funny Quotes

* I have 2,000 gospel singers and 35 Mardi Gras Indian tribes. You can't just call an agent and order them up.” - Quint Davis

* Mardi Gras starts tomorrow in New Orleans. Talk about perfect timing. Those truckloads of ice from FEMA just showed up. - Bill Maher

* This Mardi Gras will be a little different. This year when drunks yell up at the balcony, 'Show us your boobs!' Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff walk out. - Bill Maher

* Mardi Gras is going on in New Orleans. Actually it's scaled down quite a bit. Now when you throw a bead, women only flash one boob. - Jay Leno

* Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, and of course, this being America, it will be followed by Even Fatter Wednesday, Obese Thursday and Fat-A$$ Friday. - Jay Leno

Mardi Gras feathers by Infrogmation @ flickr

* It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Everybody has Mardi Gras fever. I was watching the 'Today' show earlier today and Tom Cruise was lecturing Matt Lauer about jambalaya. - David Letterman

* They have the big parade down in New Orleans and this year FEMA has a float, but it's not expected 'til labor day. - David Letterman

* In New Orleans, the Paris Casino reopened and officials are calling it a sign of progress. If you didn't lose your house before, you can now. - Jay Leno

* In his speech President Bush said we need to rebuild Iraq, provide the people with jobs, and give them hope. If it works there maybe we'll try it in New Orleans. - Jay Leno

* The first baby has been born in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Yeah, they named it FEMA because it finally showed up after nine months. - Jay Leno

* Pakistan had one of the worst natural disasters ever, up to 50,000 people dead after an earthquake this week. But of course it's not a resort, no supermodels like the tsunami, so it doesn't really get covered. But other nations are trying to help. They've offered food, medicine, corpse-sniffing dogs. New Orleans sent a volunteer team of cops to beat the crap out of survivors. - Bill Maher

* You know I love New Orleans, they're vowing to hold Mardi Gras this year come hell or -- no pun -- high water. This is interesting, they've always had a Mardi Gras drink called the Hurricane. They're not going to serve that this year, but they've got a new one called the FEMA. It's strong, it hits you about a week later. - Bill Maher

* They say the toxic water and sludge smells so bad in New Orleans that they're thinking of renaming the city Newark. - Jay Leno

* The president said much of the aid is going towards job training. And when they heard that, the people of New Orleans rose as one and said, 'Can we start with you?' - Bill Maher

* Bush called the rebuilding of New Orleans one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen, second only to Cher. - Jay Leno

* The rebuilding of New Orleans is already underway. The relief and reconstruction contracts for rebuilding the city have already been awarded, many of them no bid. Among the recipients, major Republican contributors Bechtel and Fluor, the Shaw Group, client of Joe Allbaugh, ex-FEMA head, and, of course, come on, don't be shy, say it with me -- Halliburton. - Jon Stewart

* President Bush toured New Orleans. He saw something that was below sea level: his approval ratings. - Jay Leno

* Taking a page from their tsunami playbook, the White House announced today that former presidents Bush and Bill Clinton will head up the fundraising efforts for the hurricane relief. And you know, Bill Clinton is no stranger to this kind of thing. He was once visiting the French Quarter during a hurricane and got blown behind a dumpster. - Bill Maher

* But hey, it is New Orleans. Watching today, I could tell that this city has not lost its hope. It has not lost its distinctive pluck, because every time rescue teams would toss supplies to people, women flashed their breasts. - Bill Maher

Rebuild Revive New Orleans photo by howieluvzus @ flickr

These are some serious quotes. What Mark Twain, Louis Armstrong, Calvin Trillin and others have had to say about New Orleans's most raucous cultural ritual. These quotes describe the history, the culture, the visceral atmostphere of the New Orleans festival.

Cultural Quotes

* The Roman Carnival and other European Carnivals, all of which begin to be reported with frequency only in the 14th century, have no documentable connection with ancient [Greek and Roman] festivities.

It was easy enough for 15th and 16th century reformers to associate with pagan materialism and sensuality the boisterous games and bodily self-indulgence that developed in Carnival. From the 16th century onwards city and state authorities in both Catholic and Protestant areas sometimes found it useful to support the mistaken notion of pagan origins in their efforts to suppress the festival's disorderliness.

The Bacchanalia, Saturnalia, Lupercalia, and so on, however frequently they may be invoked in the Gulf Coast parades or in Sunday-supplement explanations of the festivity, have nothing to do with the historical origin of Mardi Gras or the origins of its origin in Europe's Carnivals. - Carnival, American Style: Mardi Gras at New Orleans and Mobile (University of Chicago Press, 1990), by Samuel Kinser

* At 9 o'clock, or thereabouts, the flare of torchlights shattered the darkness of Magazine and Julia Streets, bands burst into symphony, and the Mistick Krewe stood revealed — a company of demons, rich and realistic, moving in a procession that seemed to blaze from some secret chamber of the earth.

They came! Led by the festive Comus, high on his royal seat, and Satan, high on a hill, far blazing as a mount, with pyramids and towers from diamond quarries hewn, and rocks of gold; the palace of great Lucifer. The demon actors in Milton's Paradise Lost. The first torchlit scenic procession in New Orleans, a revolution in street pageantry, a revelation in artistic effects. - The Mistick Krewe: Chronicles of Comus and his Kin (Carnival Press, 1931), by Perry Young

* [In 1857,] the Mistick Krewe [Comus] introduced spectacle to the streets of New Orleans, and Carnival was forever changed. Comus would not only reappear every Mardi Gras night, he would do so amid flames and smoking flares of moving theater, and each year he would present new visions to astonish a population long nourished on masquerades, parades, and stagecraft. With the advent of the Mistick Krewe of Comus, the festivities of Mardi Gras were ended with public ceremony of pomp and bombast, with mystery, artistry, and ritual splendor. - Mardi Gras: New Orleans (Flammarion, 1997), by Henri Schindler

* The night cometh in which we take no note of time, and forget that we are living in a practical age which relegates romance to printed pages and merriment to the stage. Yet what is more romantic than the Night of the Masked Ball — the too brief hours of light, music, and fantastic merriment which seem to belong to no age and yet to all?

Somehow or other, in spite of all the noisy frolic of such nights, the spectacle of a Mardi Gras Ball impresses one at moments as a ghastly and unreal scene. The apparitions of figures which belong to other ages; the Venetian mysteries of the domino; the witcheries of beauty half-veiled; the tantalizing salutes from enigmatic figures you cannot recognize; the pretty mockeries whispered into your ear by some ruddy lips whose syllabling seems so strangely familiar and yet defies recognition; the King himself seated above the shifting rout impenetrable as a Sphinx; and the kaleidoscopic changing and flashing of colors as the merry crowd whirls and sways under the musical breath of the orchestra — seem hardly real, hardly possible to belong in any manner to the prosaic life of the century.

Even the few impassioned spectators who remain maskless and motionless form so strange a contrast that they seem like watchers in a haunted palace silently gazing upon a shadowy festival which occurs only once a year in the great hall exactly between the hours of twelve and three. While the most beautiful class of costumes seem ghostly only in that they really belong to past ages, the more grotesque and outlandish sort seem strangely suggestive of a goblin festival.

And above all the charms of the domino! Does it not seem magical that a woman can, by a little bright velvet and shimmering silk, thus make herself into a fairy? And the glorious Night is approaching — this quaint, old-time night, star-jeweled, fantastically robed; and the blue river is bearing us fleets of white boats thronged with strangers who doubtless are dreaming of lights and music, the tepid, perfumed air of Rex's palace, and the motley route of merry ghosts, droll goblins, and sweet fairies, who will dance the dance of Carnival until blue day puts out at once the trembling tapers of the stars and the lights of the great ball. - The Dawn of the Carnival (The New Orleans Item, February 2, 1880), by Lafcadio Hearn

* Carnival is a butterfly of winter whose last real flight of Mardi Gras forever ends his glory. Another season is the season of another butterfly, and the tattered, scattered, fragments of rainbow wings are in turn the record of his day. - The Mistick Krewe: Chronicles of Comus and his Kin, by Perry Young

* The celebration of Mardi Gras is an episode that never becomes stale to the people of the city, however monotonous the description or even the enumeration of its entertainments appears to strangers. At any age it makes a Creole woman young to remember it as she saw it at eighteen; and the description of what it appeared to the eyes of eighteen, would be, perhaps, the only fair description of it, for if Mardi Gras means anything, it means illusion; and unfortunately, when one attains one's majority in the legal world, one ceases to be a citizen of Phantasmagoria.

"There is a tradition that young matrons have recognized their husbands in their masked cavaliers at balls; and that the Romeo incognito of many a debutante has resolved into a brother, or even father; but at least it is not the debutante who makes the discovery. Her cavalier is always beyond her illusion, living in the Elysium of her future, as the cavalier of the matron is always some no less cherished illusion from the Elysium of the past.

As it is the desire of the young girl to be the subject of these illusions, so it is the desire of the young boy to become the object of them. To put on a mask and costume, to change his personality; to figure some day in the complimentary colouring of a prince of India, or of a Grecian god, or even to ape the mincing graces of a dancing girl or woodlawn nymph; to appear to the inamorata, clouded in the unknown, as the ancient gods did to simple shepherdesses; and so to excite her imagination, and perhaps more. A god is only a man when he is in love; and a man, all a god. - New Orleans: The Place and the People (Macmillan, 1913), by Grace King (as quoted in Mardi Gras: New Orleans, by Henri Schindler)

* It [Mardi Gras] is a thing that could hardly exist in the practical North....For the soul of it is the romantic, not the funny and the grotesque. Take away the romantic mysteries, the kings and knights and big-sounding titles, and Mardi Gras would die, down there in the South. - Life on the Mississippi (Harper & Brothers, 1896), by Mark Twain

King Cake by syvwich @ flickr

* Voodoo did not exert a direct musical influence on the Mardi Gras Indians, but it was a cornerstone of the cultural tradition out of which they eventually developed — a living link to the African spirit cults of the Caribbean.

"Large drum-and-dance convocations by slaves surfaced about 1800 on a grassy field behind the French Quarter, now Louis Armstrong Park....The gathering site was called Place Congo—in later years, with English supplanting French as the local language, Congo Square. Drums boomed. Big wooden horns sent out notes. And from the shacks and shanties of the slave quarters came hundreds of men and women to the Sunday gatherings to dance, to make rhythm, to express freedom.

"As a spirit figure, the Indian would never have entered the folk streams of New Orleans music had it not been for Carnival. Congo Square was suppressed about 1835, though some gatherings probably occurred afterward.

"Beginning in the 1880s, the Mardi Gras Indians started the slow rise out of submersion that the mother culture underwent with the disappearance of Congo Square and voodoo. The Indians' chants were not set to drums, but to hand-percussion instruments such as tambourines. They did not worship spirits per se, but through a slow-evolving body of coded lyrics established a tribal hierarchy that praised the Indian nations and celebrated the bravery of rebellion.

The Mardi Gras Indians gave light to the memory of an African past, but in a ritual fashion that embraced the Indian as an adopted spirit figure. It was the highest compliment the African could pay a race of the New World; it stemmed from a common struggle, sociocultural intercourse, a shared vision of freedom — but most of all, from a profoundly African ritual retention. The Indian followed the procession of rebellious slaves, voodoo cultists, and Congo Square dancers in the historical memory. - Up From the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since World War II (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986), by Jason Berry, Jonathan Foose and Tad Jones

* Carnival became ever more necessary for black New Orleans. It filled basic needs increasingly denied the people by allowing new identities to take shape. Creoles and the black bourgeois emulated the white aristocracy with society balls, but a network of social aid and pleasure clubs arose around Carnival.

The costumes were another matter altogether. To whites, they were largely toy disguises, fancy fleetings reflecting one's humor or elan. To the black consciousness, masking often took on a heightened meaning. The mask became a cover, a new identity, a persona eluding the white policeman or soldier; the mask gave ephemeral freedom; the whole organic presence of the costume could scare people, delight them, it could satirize or do any number of things provided the person inside it fulfilled the role to the core of his imagination.

In this way, Carnival became one linear extension of Congo Square. Out of the flickering memory of African spiritualism and percussive ceremony came a procession of spirit figures, an inherited cultural consciousness marching into Carnival. - Up From the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since World War II, by Jason Berry, Jonathan Foose and Tad Jones

* The New Orleans 1885 Mardi Gras was extraordinary. On the streets were large numbers of international visitors connected with the [World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial] Exposition, several Central American Indian groups, and some fifty to sixty Plains Indians from the [Buffalo Bill] Wild West Show, including four chiefs, all of whom were likely on the street in native dress. For [locals of African descent, particularly groups who took to masking as Indians,] Mardi Gras translated nicely into a freedom celebration, a day to commemorate their own history and spirit, to be arrogant, to circumvent the hostile authorities, to overturn the established order, and now and then to seek revenge. - Mardi Gras Indians (Pelican Publishing Company, 1994), by Michael P. Smith

* Now everybody in the world has heard about the New Orleans Mardi Gras, but maybe not about the Indians, one of the biggest feats that happened in Mardi Gras. Even at the parades with floats and costumes that cost millions, why, if the folks heard the sign of the Indians:

— that big parade wouldn't have anybody there: the crowd would flock to see the Indians. When I was a child, I thought they really was Indians. They were paint and blankets and, when they danced, one would get in the ring and throw his head back and downward, stooping over and bending his knees, making a rhythm with his heels and singing—T'ouwais, bas q'ouwais—and the tribe would answer — Ou tendais.

"They would dance and sing and go on just like regular Indians, because they had the idea they wanted to act just like the old Indians did in years gone by and so they lived true to the traditions of the Indian style. They went armed with fictitious spears and tommyhawks and so forth and their main object was to make their enemy bow.

They would send their spy-boys two blocks ahead—I happened to be a spy-boy myself once so I know how this went—and when a spy-boy would meet another spy from an enemy tribe he'd point his finger to the ground and say, 'Bow-wow.' And if they wouldn't bow, the spy-boy would use the Indian call, 'Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo,' that was calling the tribes—and, many a time, in these Indian things, there would be a killing and next day would be somebody in the morgue. - Mister Jelly Roll: The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and "Inventor of Jazz" (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1950), by Alan Lomax

* Another thing about Mardi Gras when I was a kid was that it was a revenge day. That's why a lot of people didn't come out in the street. If a guy had a misunderstanding with someone in the summer, he'd wait until Carnival day when the street was crowded, and he'd just put on a woman's dress and he'd roll his pants up underneath that. And the only way you can trick him is if you're dressed like a woman too. All you'd hear is people scream and see a man fall with an ice pick in him, and [the assailant would] go into a barroom and leave that dress on the floor. Oh yeah, it used to be real lowdown. - Allison (Tootie) Montana, big chief (now retired) of The Yellow Pocahontas, Offbeat magazine, February 1994

* Whereas revelers used Mardi Gras to satirize prohibitionists and other reformers, early-twentieth-century reformers pointed to New Orleans Carnival as an example of just what needed reforming. In 1908, the Reverend Charles L. Collins of the Kentucky Anti-Saloon League visited New Orleans to see Carnival. Collins proclaimed that 'no city on the continent offers harder problems for the reformer.' Much about the city's easy ways displeased him, including certain aspects of Carnival. 'As to the Mardi Gras festivities proper,' he wrote, 'I am both delighted and shocked beyond measure.' - All on a Mardi Gras Day: Episodes in the History of New Orleans Carnival (Harvard University Press, 1995), by Reid Mitchell

* One of my first memories of the [Mardi Gras Indian] tribes was of a Wild Man from a tribe called the White Eagles coming down the street on horseback, firing double-barrel shotgun loads of colored glass pellets into the air to get everyone's attention and clear the way — which he definitely succeeded in doing. - Under a Hoodoo Moon: The Life of the Night Tripper (St. Martin's Press, 1994), by Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) with Jack Rummel

* One of the gangs was made up of all the whores and pimps from Perdido Street; their parade was called Gangster Molls and Baby Dolls. Everyone in this group dressed as outlandishly as possible: The women wore eye-popping dresses; the ones who looked highest-priced wore ultra-sharp women's suits, but with see-through bras underneath. Others wore slit miniskirts showing lace panties, stiletto heels, and flowery low-cut blouses. The pimps got decked out in acey-deucy Stetsons with cocked brims, jelly-roll-peg zoot suits, one-button roll coats with wide lapels, and zebra-skinned shoes; not infrequently, they'd strut down the street with canes made out of bull dicks.

"They were ridiculous and funny all at the same time. They'd come busting out of their dives during Mardi Gras, their dresses and suits lined in satin and glitter, real sharp-looking and hilarious. They'd march down the greens, that broad strip of grass that separates one side of the street from the other, cutting up, shakin' the bacon and carrying on, and everyone would back off to let them start high-steppin'.

And you had best back off, too, because they took their kicks seriously. They were real rowdy. Cats would brandish switchblades, and whip them out in your face if you got too close. The tribes always drew a big crowd of black and white folks, but this kind of thing seemed normal to me as a kid. Didn't every town have tribes? I thought so. - Under a Hoodoo Moon: The Life of the Night Tripper (St. Martin's Press, 1994), by Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) with Jack Rummel

Coffinmobile three wheeler by Infrogmation @ flickr

* There's a thing I've dreamed of all my life, and I'll be damned if it don't look like it's about to come true — to be King of the Zulu's parade. After that, I'll be ready to die. - Louis Armstrong, Time magazine, February 21, 1949

* It's a funny thing how life can be such a drag one minute and a solid sender the next. The day I got out of jail Mardi Gras was being celebrated. It is a great day for all of New Orleans, and particularly for the Zulu Aid Pleasure and Social Club. Every member of the Club masquerades in a costume burlesquing some famous person. The King of the Zulus, also in masquerade costume, rides with six other Zulus on a float giving away coconuts as souvenirs. The members march to the good jumping music of the brass bands while the King on his throne scrapes and bows to the cheering crowds.

"When I ran into this celebration and the good music I forgot all about Sore Dick [the dreaded prison yard captain] and the Parish Prison. Most of the members of the Zulu Club then lived around Liberty and Perdido Streets, but now Mardi Gras has become so famous—people come from all over America to see its parade—that it includes doctors, lawyers and other important people from all over the city. Later on a Lady Zulu Club was organized. It has been my lifelong dream to be the King of the Zulus, as it was the dream of every kid in my neighborhood. - Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans
(Prentice-Hall, 1954), by Louis Armstrong (King Zulu 1949)

Captain Mardi Gras by Mr. Gunn @ flickr

* On Mardi Gras 1928, a crowd gathered around a woman on Canal Street dancing the Black Bottom. A friend of the dancer's played the ukulele while the crowd 'stamped their feet.' An admiring fat man 'flung her a handful of coins.' If he thought the dancer would appreciate his largess, he was wrong. She gathered the coins together and threw them back at him. 'Anybody can tell you're not used to Carnival!' she cried. 'On Mardi Gras we dance 'cause we want to.' - All on a Mardi Gras Day: Episodes in the History of New Orleans Carnival, by Reid Mitchell

* We was all sittin' around about three o'clock in the morning in my house [trying to decide how to mask for Mardi Gras], when a gal named Althea jumps up and says, 'Let's be ourselves. Let's be Baby Dolls. That's what the pimps always called us.' We decided to call ourselves the Million Dollar Baby Dolls and be red hot....Some of us made our dresses, and some had 'em made. We was all looking sharp. There was thirty of us—the best whores in town. We was all good lookin' and we had money all over us, even in our bloomers, and they didn't have no zippers.....When them Baby Dolls strutted, they strutted. We showed our linen that day, I'm tellin' you. - Baby Doll interview from the late 1930s (as quoted in Mardi Gras: New Orleans, by Henri Schindler)

* As they had for decades, [brass bands] provided the music for the endless cycle of dances and parades in New Orleans, popularizing the startling fusion of influences and celebration that came to be hailed as the only original art form created in America. It would be hyperbole, if not false, to name jazz a child of Carnival; however the joyous license of the music owes more than passing acquaintance to the liberties of Mardi Gras and a population long-accustomed to dancing in the streets. - Mardi Gras: New Orleans, by Henri Schindler

* On Mardi Gras the women of Storyville [New Orleans' red-light district, where prostitution was legal from 1897 to 1917] did not mingle with the maskers but remained in their neighborhood, which now was spreading into the French Quarter, as they took over the houses left by the vanishing Creoles, who once had also possessed Mardi Gras. Now, on that day, Carnival revelers would wander through Storyville in the hours between parades, to gasp at Arlington's 'five-dollar house' with its huge chandeliers and beveled mirrors.

They would drop in at the Countess Willie Piazza's, where the girls were always in lovely Egyptian costumes on Mardi Gras, and at Lulu White's, where there were bedrooms with walls and ceilings composed entirely of mirrors. They could peep through shutters into the cheap cribs, where naked girls sat around awaiting patrons....And they heard the new kind of music being played in Storyville called 'jass,' which was being introduced in other parts of the city but was considered rather indecent. - Mardi Gras (Doubleday, 1948), by Robert Tallent

* I am the oldest, I am the best, and I am the prettiest. - Allison (Tootie) Montana, The New York Times, February 19, 1995

* It is hereby decreed that melancholy be put to route, and joy unconfined seize our subjects, young and old of all genders and degrees...that the spirit of make-believe descend upon the realm and banish from the land the dull and the humdrum and the commonplace of daily existence. - public proclamation, Morgan L. Whitney, King of Carnival (Rex),1967

* The idea of a celebrity leading the Bacchus parade was indeed unique. It went against the grain of 113 years of Carnival tradition. There had never been a celebrity king of a Carnival krewe. Naturally, the idea wasn't met with open arms from the Carnival establishment. The idea was a total departure from the time-honored tradition of selecting a king from the ranks of the krewes.

Leopard drummers by Infrogmation @ flickr

'These guys are crazy!' [float builder Blaine] Kern told his wife when he arrived home from the first meeting. 'They want to bring some hot-shot to town and make him king of their parade. Imagine. It will never work.' - Silver Jubilee (Krewe of Bacchus' 25th-anniversary book,1993), by Bonnie Warren

* I have trouble explaining to out-of-towners why people here spend $1,000 to wear a mask so no one knows who they are, and then give away things to people they've never met. But I guess it's an opportunity for everybody to play Santa Claus. That's at the heart of it. - Arthur Hardy, publisher of Arthur Hardy's Mardi Gras Guide, explaining why members of Carnival krewes dig into their pockets year after year to ride in parades and throw trinkets, New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 28, 1992

* If you write Mr. Mardi Gras, I get the mail. Do you believe that? Like Santa Claus. - Blaine Kern, float builder and captain of Krewe of Alla, Forbes magazine, October 9, 1995

* Mardi Gras may be best known to the outside world as a public festival, but upper-class New Orleans knew that its real significance lay in the annual reaffirmation of social eminence over merit. The most potent symbol of that creed came on the night of Mardi Gras, when Rex and Comus held their balls in different sections of the municipal auditorium. The evening ended when the mock royalty of the two krewes staged the traditional 'meeting of the courts' shortly before midnight. It was not for nothing that the bare-faced Rex, chosen in part for his civic contributions, had to traipse over and pay his respects to the mysterious Comus. - Lords of Misrule: Mardi Gras and the Politics of Race in New Orleans (University Press of Mississippi, 1997), by James Gill

* The current structure of Mardi Gras, which blacks refer to as the 'white parade season,' dates from the latter half of the nineteenth century. After the consolidation of the Anglo-American establishment, the 'official' Mardi Gras became an event that primarily perpetuated the interests of white high society. The common people's carnival—with its subversion of the dominant order, wild dancing, and festive transgressions (iconoclastic celebration of freedom through cross dressing, 'obscenity,' and other behavior offensive to genteel Americans—was relegated to the back streets and ignored by the press. - Mardi Gras Indians, by Michael P. Smith

* A few months before the 1992 Carnival, a black city-council member named Dorothy Mae Taylor introduced an ordinance that would prohibit a parade permit to any group that discriminated on the basis of race or religion or gender.... In New Orleans, it had always been assumed that people would celebrate Carnival in their own way, whether it was by riding in the parade of an all-woman krewe or holding a ball-gown contest for men in drag. There was a widespread feeling that applying human-relations-commission rules to Carnival might not only rob it of its oldest parades but sink it altogether. - "New Orleans Unmasked" (The New Yorker magazine,
February 2, 1998), by Calvin Trillin

* Momus, Son of Night, God of Mockery and Ridicule, regretfully and respectfully informs his friends, supporters and his public that he will not parade the streets of New Orleans on the Thursday evening before Shrove Tuesday, 1992, as he has customarily since 1872. - Momus's parade cancellation announcement,
issued in response to the City Council's anti-discrimination ordinance

* The rise and gradual decline of the old-line krewes pretty well mirrored the fortunes of New Orleans itself. Comus was born as an unparalleled spectacle in a vibrant city that was the commercial queen of the South. When he disappeared from the streets [as a result of the anti-discrimination ordinance], New Orleans had become a faded dowager trying desperately to regain her lost prestige while the taste of Carnival paradegoers had switched to the razzle-dazzle offered by a welter of upstart krewes. - Lords of Misrule: Mardi Gras and the Politics of Race in New Orleans, by James Gill

* Mardi Gras is a controlled riot. It's a million people walking out on the street, drinkin'. Ten days of everybody coming out here gettin' drunk and havin' fun. Ten days of us working 16, 18 hours a day.... Basically everybody's just having a good time, tryin' to enjoy themselves, and they don't mean any harm to anybody else. It's just the world's largest free party, and people like everything free.

"People come out here on Mardi Gras day in $800 suits. Just for a doubloon worth maybe 3 cents, they'll sort of dive on the ground and rip up an $800 suit. Grandmas with walking canes you'll see diving, pushing people out the way to get a pair of beads. People just go totally berserk when they come here—loose all their their inhibitions, they forget everything they ever been taught in their life. - Sgt. Billy Roth, New Orleans Police Department, Cops (March 20, 1996)

* As the celebration in the [French] Quarter has come more and more to resemble spring vacation in a Florida beach town that has no police force, exhibitionism has become part of the Carnival-bead transaction, and the most widely heard cry is no longer 'Throw me something, Mister' but 'Show us your tits.' - "New Orleans Unmasked," by Calvin Trillin

* As cameras for MTV, true-life crime shows and tabloid news programs roll in the French Quarter, the drunken partying has grown so extreme—flashes of nudity have given way to the actual performance of oral sex acts on Bourbon Street—that it is the drunkenness and obscenity itself that threatens to become Carnival's theme....That increasingly dangerous reputation of anything goes is scaring away more middle-class adult visitors, the kind of people who actually spend money, and attracting young people who only want to frolic in a drunken haze, traditionalists say. - "Merrymaking is Clashing with Tradition in Mardi Gras Tableaux" (The New York Times, February 23, 1998), by Rick Bragg

Big Chicken parade by Infrogmation @ flickr

Mardi Gras Cajun Jokes

You Might be a Cajun If...

...you start an angel food cake with a roux.

...watching the "wild kingdom" inspires you to write a cookbook.

...you think the head of the united nations is boudreaux/ boudreax-guillory.

...you think a lobster is a crawfish on steriods.

...you think ground hog day and boucherie day are the same holiday.

...you take a bite of 5-alarm texas chili and reach for the tabasco.

...fred's lounge in mamou means more to you than the grand ole opry.

...you pass up a trip abroad to go to the crawfish festival in breaux bridge.

...your children's favorite bedtime story begins "first you make a roux..."

...your description of a gourmet dinner includes the words "deep fat fried."

...your mama announces each morning, "well, I've got the rice cooking-what will we have for dinner?"

...you greet your long lost friend at the lafayette international airport with "iiiiieeeeeee!"

...you sit down to eat boiled crawfish and your host says "don't eat the dead ones" and you know what he means.

...you don't know the real names of your friends, only their nicknames.

...you gave up tabasco for Lent.

...you know the difference between zatarains, zeringue, and zydeco.

...your dog thinks the bed of your pickup is his kennel.

...any of your dessert recipes call for jalapenos.

...you consider Opelousas the capital of the state, and Lafayette the capital of the nation.

...you think the four seasons are: duck, rabbit, deer, squirrel.

Mardi Gras alien by Infrogmation @ flickr

You Know You Are From Louisiana If...

...When out of town, you stop and ask someone where there is a drive-thru daiquiri place, and they look at you like you have three heads.

...The crawdad mounds in your front yard have overtaken the grass.

...You greet people with "Howyamomma'an'em?" and hear back "Dey fine!"

...Every so often, you have waterfront property. (flooding)

...You learned to drive a boat before you could drive a car.

...You know the meaning of a "Delcambre Reeboks." (That would be a pair of all white fishing boots)

...You offer somebody a "coke" and then ask them what kind: Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, 7Up?

...You can name all of your 3rd cousins.

...You can plan your wedding around hunting season & LSU football.

...Your burial plot is six feet over rather than six feet under. (some areas of Louisiana are at sea level so they bury the dead in stone vaults like you see in New Orleans cemeteries)

...When you refer to a geographical location "way up North", you are referring to places like Shreveport, Little Rock or Memphis, "where it gets real cold"! (those cold places: Shreveport, Louisiana - Little Rock, Arkansas - Memphis, Tennessee)

...You're not afraid when someone wants to "ax you something." (ax = ask)

...You don't worry when you see ships riding higher in the river than the top of your house.

....The waitress at your local sandwich shop tells you a fried oyster po-boy "dressed" is healthier than a Caesar salad.

...You know the definition of "dressed." (mayo, pickles, mustard)

...The smell of a crawfish boil turns you on more than HBO.

...You don't realize until high school what a "county" is. (in Louisiana a county is called a parish)

...You can eat Popeye's, Haydel's and Zapp's for lunch and wash it down with Barq's and several Abitas, without losing it all on your stoop. (Popeye's: fried chicken, Haydel's: bakery in New Orleans famous for making Mardi Gras King Cakes, Zapp's: potato chips, Barq's: root beer, Abita: beer.)

...You have a ditch on at least one side of your property. (drainage or sewer ditch for rain water run off to avoid flooding)

...You prefer skiing on the bayou. (water skiing)

...You assume everyone has mosquito swarms in their backyard.

...You like your rice and politics dirty. (dirty rice has ground meat in it)

...You pronounce the largest city in the state as "Newawlins." (New Orleans)

...You know an old person that can "treat" you for warts. (traiteuse: French Native American shaman)

...You know those big roaches can fly, but you're able to sleep at night anyway.

...You can't think of anybody that can cook better than your momma.

...You know when it's appropriate to use "Tony Chachere's." (Cajun seasoning)

...When you're in Baton Rouge you know the difference between the old bridge & the new bridge. (over the Mississippi River)

...Your last name isn't pronounced the way it's spelled.

...You have spent a summer afternoon on the Lake Pontchartrain seawall catching blue crabs.

Rockin' Saints!

Saints Super Bowl Victory parade:

*** For more funny quotes like this, check it out on Wednesdays at The Social Poets and all the time at Dennys Funny Quotes!

*** For Cajun, comfort food and party recipes, please visit any time Comfort Food From Louisiana!

2 More Food Blogs: Romancing The Chocolate and Unusual 2 Tasty

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