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  • Jan 16 / 2009
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I Can’t Be Serious!

“Why can’t you be serious?” I hear that all the time — from bosses, co-workers, landlords, relatives, my own children — and it’s like a dagger through my heart. You see, the fact is, I simply am not capable of being serious; there’s a reason for it, and it’s not my fault.

When I was young, I was constantly being told, “You can’t be serious!” Parents, teachers, bus drivers, barbers, store clerks — you name it, adults of every description — no matter where I went and what I said, they all told me I couldn’t be serious. It didn’t seem fair, really. A kid wants, even needs, to be serious, at least once in a while, even a kid like I was. But, for some reason I’ve never been able to discover, I’d been singled out and forbidden to be serious, a prohibition about which I was continually reminded.

I was an obedient young fellow, too, if, perhaps, a little literal. If I couldn’t be serious, then I wouldn’t be. No questions asked. Mine was not the reason why.

Thus began my lifelong commitment to lack of seriousness, and my crusade to identify and offer constructive criticism to those who suffer from the opposite problem: hyperseriousness.

In grade school and high school, I drew caricatures and wrote silly stories to poke fun at teachers and classmates who took themselves too seriously.

In college, I wrote a satire in the style of Dryden and Swift to poke fun at an English professor who took herself too seriously (and was rewarded with my first and only D).

In my twenties, I created a boardgame to poke fun at public utility officials who take themselves too seriously (Hike), founded a Mardi Gras krewe to poke fun at local officials and celebrities who take themselves too seriously (Platefaces), launched a comic strip to poke fun at Louisiana politicians who take themselves too seriously (“Paid For By”), founded a club to poke fun at admen who take themselves too seriously (The Bad Club), published a book of cartoons to poke fun at tourists who take themselves too seriously (Only in New Orleans), and published a spoof of weight-loss regimens to poke fun at dieters who take themselves too seriously (“The Dukman Diets”).

In my thirties and forties, I published hundreds of essays, articles, and limericks poking fun at politicians, pollsters, bureaucrats, judges, educators, sociologists, sexologists, environmentalists, activists, journalists, artists, and others who take themselves too seriously.

Looking back, I think maybe all those other people should have been told that they couldn’t be serious. But no, the commission went to me. And so, the crusade continues. I don’t mind, either. It’s lots of fun, seriously.

  • Jan 16 / 2009
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Win a Sammie!

The Sam Adams Alliance is proud to announce the 2nd sammieAnnual Sammies Awards with expanded opportunities to win. The Sammies were created to reward the hard and often unappreciated work of bloggers, filmmakers, open records champions, and other government watchdogs committed to advancing freedom and economic liberty.

Prizes range from $1K to $10K. Deadline for entries is February 23rd.

  • Jan 15 / 2009
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Movie of the Week: Ghost Town

As an old-movie fan, I’m always a little leery when one of the kids brings home a new movie from Blockbuster, but Ida hit the jackpot with Ghost Town. It starts out with Greg Kinnear getting hit by a bus, and only gets better. I kept waiting for it to miss a beat, or devolve into something wretched, but it was top-notch from beginning to end, funny and poignant all at the same time. This, for me, a person who usually rents movies for free from the library, is the ultimate recommendation: It’s worth buying.

  • Jan 15 / 2009
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The Spontaneous Krewe of Platefaces

plateface-dome

SKoP captain-for-life John Smith

Mardi Gras had been getting bigger and more expensive every year, the floats and costumes of the organized krewes more and more lavish. If something hadn’t been done soon, the average reveler would have been confined forever to the role of spectator. It just didn’t seem fair.

It was his far-sighted recognition of the need for a carnival krewe so cheap that anyone could join that in 1978 prompted a presumably handsome young New Orleanian to found a new carnival group. No preparation was necessary to join, and the cost was less than a dime. All you had to do was put a paper plate on your face.

Without even knowing it, John Smith, the anonymous and mysterious captain-for-life of the Spontaneous Krewe of Platefaces, had simultaneously paved the way for peformance art and flash mobs.

To learn more about the world’s cheapest carnival krewe, click on the logo below.

plateface-logo

  • Jan 14 / 2009
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Carnival Time

Even though I’d never heard of them until just recently, “blog carnivals” have been around a long time, so my wife tells me. (I’mrex like, “Dude, whatever happened to webrings?”) They’re the virtual equivalent of a van rally, apparently, with likeminded bloggers all showing up at the same place at the same time to admire each other’s posts. As it happens, Evann belongs to the Catholic Carnival and is sponsoring it at her blog this week.  Appropriately enough for a native New Orleanian in carnival season, her “carnival” has a carnival (i.e., Mardi Gras) theme. I promised I’d post a notice about it, so here it is. Now, get on over there, so she’ll see some traffic coming from my blog. Otherwise, I’ll be moving from the bloghouse to the doghouse.

  • Jan 14 / 2009
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This Week’s List

In the interest of fairness, balance, and fuzzy logic, I hereby present, to complement last week’s list of homeschool drawbacks, a list of homeschool benefits — again from a kid’s perspective:

Benefits to Homeschooling

  1. The teacher never threatens to tell your mom
  2. Your parents never get called in for a “conference”
  3. You can’t be expelled
  4. You don’t care what your classmates think of you
  5. You don’t have to worry about forgetting your lunch/lunch money
  6. You don’t have to change clothes after school
  7. You don’t have to sell raffle tickets, cookies, or chocolate bars
  8. The dog is always nearby and ready to eat your homework
  9. If the teacher grades on the curve, you’re guaranteed an A
  10. Unless you have a twin, you’re bound to be the valedictorian

politickles.com

  • Jan 13 / 2009
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Big Day

max

MAX POWER

Maxine’s getting a true inspiration,
And she’s ready for real re-creation:
She’ll transcend the Zeitgeist
As a soldier of Christ,
Installed in tonight’s Confirmation.

The image above is a label my wife designed for a bottle of homemade wine that our daughter Maxine presented to Fr. Benedict at her recent Confirmation interview. Pictured are Max and Fr. Benedict at her First Communion in 2003.

  • Jan 12 / 2009
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David from the Other Day

A young guy in a hoodie just walked by on the sidewalk in front of our house. He was talking on a cell phone, and I overheard him say, “It’s David, from the other day,” three times. Either he had a bad connection, or the person on the other end didn’t remember “David from the other day.”

It brought back memories of humiliating phone calls I suffered through more than once in my teens:

“Hello.”

“Bonnie?”

“Yes?”

“This is Bob.”

“Don?”

“Bob.”

“Bob?”

“From the other day.”

“The other day?”

“At the bowling alley.”

“The bowling alley?”

“Paradise Lanes, on Veterans Highway.”

“What was your name again?”

“Bob.”

“Bob?”

“Bob Duplantier. We met the other day, at the bowling alley.”

“At the bowling alley?”

“Yes, the other day.”

“What day?”

“Saturday. Last Saturday.”

“Bob Duplantis?”

“Duplantier.”

“Hmm.”

“I was with my friend, Frank. I was wearing a red tank top and cutoff jeans. It was around 11:30, ETC.”

The worst of it was knowing that the conversation was going nowhere, but not knowing when to give up. Conversation? Who am I kidding? We never even got to the conversation. But maybe there was some added information that might spark recognition, if only I could think of it, some minor detail that would prompt her to exclaim: “Oh, Bob Duplantier! Of course! Now I remember!”

Even the most tenacious suitor must, at some point, admit defeat, but how to exit gracefully? “Oh, well, sorry to bother you”? Yeah, that’s real cool. Or maybe just hang up? She didn’t remember me anyway, so why not?

Finally, one way or another, I managed to extract myself and the agony was over. Then, the nagging doubt began. Maybe she’ll remember me later, when she’s had time to think about it. I wonder if I should call again?

  • Jan 12 / 2009
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The Wonder Kid(s)

It’s tough sometimes to be a dad,
Especially when your kid is bad.
You wonder why she did what she did
— And why she’s not a wonder kid.

A wonder kid is always good, ETC.
(“The Wonder Kid,” F.R. Duplantier, 1992)

ria

Maria, my first "Wonder Kid"

I wrote “The Wonder Kid” for our eldest daughter, Maria, when she was four or five, and dedicated it to her when it was first published. I don’t believe that I was ever an overbearing disciplinarian, or even very strict, but I wanted her to be a good kid, and grow up to be a good adult. That silly thing that parents say — “This is going to hurt me more than it will you” — was really true for me. I felt I had to chastise her when she’d done something wrong, but I always regretted having to do it, and felt bad about it afterwards, though never bad enough to abdicate my responsibility as her father. The transgressions were minor, mind you, as I ascribe to the “broken windows” approach to crime control. Years later, when she took to dying her hair odd colors, I’d get strange looks from other parents; occasionally, one would ask, with apparent sympathy: “Doesn’t that bother you?” As a matter of fact, it didn’t, and I said so. Then I asked the killer question: “If my teenaged daughter’s odd-colored hair is the biggest problem I have to deal with as a father, I’m doing pretty good, don’t you think?”

The poem concludes with an epiphany: the realization that my daughter already was a “wonder kid.” And so she was. Today, at the age of 21, Maria is now a wonderful adult — as is daughter #2, Ida, 18.

“The Wonder Kid” has been republished many times, in print and online. Over the years, I’ve added the names of the rest of our kids, one by one, to the dedication. By the grace of God, dumb luck, and maybe some decent parenting on the part of their father and mother, all of our children have been “wonder kids” and promise to be wonderful adults. It won’t be long, either: Isabel is now 16, Maxine 13, Crozet 11, and Audrey 8.

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