Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Greeks have a word for a booty that is a beauty

Two days ago Sally and I walked out of a grocery store behind a woman whose backside was very large. Sally asked, “What is that word that means a big butt?”

I said, “Callipygian. But that word doesn’t describe this woman.” Her rear end was as big as the back half of a Volkswagen. “Callipygian means having beautifully proportioned buttocks.” The Greeks came up with that word. The model on the cover of this catalog is an example of callipygian.

Some very famous stars have callipygian attributes.


Marilyn Monroe.

Jennifer Lopez played Selena in a biopic, and  like JLo, Selena had her own claim to booty immortality:

Those of you asking your husband, “Does this dress make my butt look too big?” take pride in your callipygian caboose.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Same sex marriage: new clients for the divorce lawyers

I am still watching the process by which same sex marriages will inevitably become the law of the land. In the past couple of weeks the states of Utah and Oklahoma have presented their cases to the same panel of three judges of the Tenth Circuit Court. They will decide whether it is legal to withhold the status of marriage based on the constitutionality of both Utah and Oklahoma’s laws governing marriage. It is my opinion that both states will lose their appeals because they are based on religion, culture and bigotry toward homosexuals, not on law.

Something has struck me as I have watched the process, and especially in my home state of Utah. In December the state, caught flat-footed by a federal judge’s ruling that Utah’s law on marriage was unconstitutional, did not have an appeal in place. Until they could get their act together 1,300 same sex couples were suddenly able to take out marriage licenses and get married. I noticed the age of many of the happy couples. They weren’t teens or twenty-somethings, but older people, some as old as me! (Damn, that is old.) Reading  news reports about some of their personal lives, in many cases they were couples who had been together for many years, even decades. The minute the opportunity presented itself they jumped at the chance to make their partnership legal.

Legal meaning they would have the same benefits I’ve taken for granted in my 45 years of marriage: filing joint tax returns, having clear rights of survivorship, end of life decisions, and those other things well established for generations. Benefits that come with a marriage license and a few words pronounced by a judge over two people.

It also struck me that the basis for discrimination and exclusion for same sex couples to that legal marriage was instigated by religions and churches whose members (those who were lawmakers or government bureaucrats) made sure that same sex couples could not share those benefits. A church is not a lawmaking body except in a spiritual sense. It does not have the authority of government. We are supposed to have a separation of church and state. So why are these folks allowed to force laws upon fellow citizens based on their beliefs?

I believe that the feds, as hated as they are by many groups with agendas formed by prejudice and sanctimony, will have to step in and make sure that those discriminatory laws are overruled. The courts often have to be the final say-so in what is strictly a legal and not emotional or religious issue.

And when that happens then many younger couples will want to be married. And when they are married they will be in the same circumstance as married traditional couples. At some point many of them will file for divorce.

It is not easy to get an accurate accounting of how many divorces there are in America, but from what I’ve been able to gather from some research (okay, I went to the Internet), a ballpark figure would be 40-50% for first time marriages, and for second and third marriages the statistics go up about 10% each time. For instance, if you’re married for a third time, your chances of getting a divorce are around 70%. Those statistics will then affect same sex marriages as well as traditional marriages.

In that way same sex couples, who will be sharing the benefits of legal marriage for the first time, will be also facing the grim realities of divorce. I’d like to see them do better than traditional married couples so in ten years or so they can boast that gay people have more solid marriages than straight people. If not the people who will be reaping the real benefits of same sex marriage will be divorce lawyers. I imagine many of them are rubbing their hands in glee in anticipation of picking up a whole lot of new clients.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“Sooner kill you as look at you”

I wrote this post in 2008. With some changes and editing I am presenting it again.

In these days of contractors like Halliburton running parts of what used to be Army responsibilities, do soldiers even have KP anymore? When I was in training from December 1966 through April 1967 I got more than my share of that duty. KP stood for kitchen police, although no one could tell me why. Military Police were cops, and “policing the area” meant picking up cigarette butts and debris from the ground, but why there were kitchen police was a mystery.

Like most GIs I hated KP. It meant going to work at around 4:00 a.m., and not getting off until as late as 9:00 p.m., depending on how industrious we could be or how fastidious or prickish the cooks were. I saw all kinds. The cooks in our Artillery training unit at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma were some of the worst slave-driving sadists I encountered. We fixed them, though, by sending them Scout.

When I think of Scout I conjure up the image of Devil Anse Hatfield of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. He and Scout may not have been related by blood, but by attitude and meanness.

I don't remember Scout's real name. We called him Scout because he told us to, and Scout was a man to be reckoned with. He came from Montana. He didn't talk very much, but from what we learned from him he had been on federal probation for several years for moonshining, of all things. When his probation was over the draft board snapped him up. Scout was tall and lean, with a pinched face and perpetual scowl. His eyes were dark and his eyelids heavy, giving him a hooded look. I think of Scout as a survivalist or a militiaman, hiding out in the hills, living off the land. Often in the middle of the night I'd wake up in my bunk to see Scout walking the floor. He was an insomniac, so sometimes other guys paid him to take their fire guard shifts. We had two hour turns where we were up and walking the floor to make sure the place didn't burn down. Some guys just couldn't stay awake and crashed onto a bunk during their guard duties. I did that a couple of times, but Scout never did.

The rumor was that Scout was more than a moonshiner, that he had killed some men in Montana but that the law couldn't prove it. It was probably a legend grown up around his mysterious personage, but to a bunch of 19 and 20-year-old soldiers it seemed real enough. Scout was probably not more than five or six years older than us,  but to us he looked much older. We could see he'd had a hard life. Scout didn't plan on staying in the Army. He told us if they gave him orders for Vietnam he would not go no matter what. Soldiers deployed to Vietnam got an automatic one-week leave to go home. We figured when we got our orders at the end of our training he was planning to go over the hill to Canada or disappear into the wilds of Montana. To that end Scout was saving money. He'd charge people $5.00 or $10.00 to take their fire guard shift,  and he charged between $15 to $25 for a KP shift, depending on whether it was a weekday or on a Sunday. Everybody wanted Sundays off. I paid Scout $25.00 once so I wouldn't have to do Sunday KP because my parents said they were driving to Oklahoma to see me. They canceled out, but I didn't dare tell Scout, so I gave him the $25 and that Sunday I went to a movie.

The sergeants were probably listening to the same scuttlebutt and rumors as us trainees. They might have believed that Scout was a dangerous person. They didn't stop him from taking those KP shifts even though it meant he missed training. He wasn't lazy. He did his work in the mess hall but the cooks didn't treat him like they treated the rest of us. In a place like the Army it pays to cause fear in people.

I never found out what happened to Scout. When the orders were read out at the end of our training his name was called for Vietnam. I looked at him but his face looked like it always did, like he'd as soon kill you as look at you. Whether Scout ended up in Canada as a deserter or somewhere hidden in America I don’t know. If his threat to desert was empty, and if he actually went to Vietnam as a soldier there were probably people who ended up dead. And not all of them would have been the enemy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Past lives and parking spaces

I wrote this post originally in 2011. With minor edits I am presenting it again.

Do you want to know who you were in a past life? This ad from a 1946 magazine supposes you do.

In the 1970s my wife took a night school class in the paranormal. I was dubious about it, but she told me how her teacher explained a technique for finding out what we were in our past lives. We were to sit in the dark in front of a full-length mirror with a lighted candle between us and the mirror, and our past lives would be revealed.

Even though I didn’t believe it would work, I was still a little spooky about it. I never tried it. That's because something else her teacher told her appeared to actually work. At the time we were going into busy downtown Salt Lake City once or twice a week and we usually had trouble finding a parking space. The teacher told Sally that by concentrating on a parking space while traveling into a city you would find one easily. I tried it, and it worked so many times it got me thinking of what happened when I thought “parking space” while driving. Did someone who was already parked receive a sudden strong mental prod to leave the space so I could find it? The mind boggled.

Because that mind trick seemed to be working it made me more reticent about actually seeing a past life in a full-length mirror. There was enough to upset me in my current lifetime that I did not care to see some miserable past life.

The Search For Bridey Murphy, by Morey Bernstein, is about using hypnotic regression on a contemporary American woman. It supposedly revealed a past lifetime in 19th Century Ireland. It was a best seller in the mid-1950s. I found this copy in a thrift store recently, and was initially curious, but after reading the dust jacket flaps and this Wikipedia entry about the book I decided it was just more mumbo-jumbo.

I've read a lot of books in my life that attempted to convince me of something: spirit photography, Bigfoot, astral projection or flying saucers. If I had an open mind when I first read all these claims of the paranormal, Loch Ness monster, giant creatures hiding in the woods, or visitors from space, after awhile I just stopped believing any of it. Truth is in the mind of the truth-seeker. You can create “truth” in your own head, whether it is in fact true to the outside world or not. Some of the books I read were very earnest, and spot-reading Bridey Murphy it appears the author believed what he wrote. But it doesn’t make it true.

Forty years ago I didn’t know what would have happened if I sat in front of the mirror, trying to see a past life. I believe nothing would have happened. I was only reminded because I found the book.

I’m still wondering about the parking space phenomenon. But I need to shake it off. That stuff can make you crazy if you think about it too much.