Local author Bobby Aguillard has just published his first children’s book — Pinky Adventures: A Southwest Louisiana Story.
Some of you may already have guessed that the title refers to the pink dolphins of Cameron waters.
In addition to thinking up stories, Aguillard works on a shrimp boat — Lady Olivia — that docks in Cameron. On his site, BobbyAguilard.com, and on his Facebook page, you can watch videos of the pink dolphins Aguillard has shot from the boats. It’s pretty dramatic footage.
Aguillard says the pink dolphin is native to this area. One in 4,500 is born solid pink. Others contain combinations of pink and other colors. Aguillard says that in Cameron waters, “we have four solid pink ones; one is pink and gray.”
The art in the book Pinky Adventures is made up of a series of simple line drawings fleshed out with simple monochromatic colors. There are many pleasant, calming pastels, and particularly pastels in various shades of blue. The line drawings — for instance, of the ever-present pink porpoise Pinky — are just detailed enough to represent the depicted object well. All of this art should be pleasing to both children and adults.
Throughout the book, there are snippets of Cajun dialect. The dialect is certainly most noticeable with the character Boudreaux da Crawdaddy, who greets Pinky by yelling out, “How y’all are?” There are also samples of very contemporary slang and trending speech patterns. For instance, when a pelican meets Pinky, he says, “Wow! You’re totally pink and your name is Pinky! Pssh, mind blown! Woah!”
As for the story, when Pinky swims to a “mysterious island,” he sees a monkey — Mike. When the two animals agree they both like “adventures,” they decide to have an adventure that involves travelling around the island.
They meet various animals living there: Pete the Pelican (“funny, loud and friendly”), Sammy Seagull, the crawdad, Nutria Nick and Allie the Alligator.
Aguillard says he plans to prepare books for 22 more adventures. He asks children who read Pinky to send him their ideas for adventures Pinky could go through in future books.
I really enjoy the simple colors and lines of the book. I imagine children under the age of 7 or so will find the story upbeat and engaging. Aguillard sets the age range for the book at 4-12. I think many adults would enjoy it, too.
You can get the book at BobbyAguillard.com or at the sites of Books-A-Million or Amazon. The Kindle edition goes for $3.99.
The Up Fronter has written before about Lake Charles poet Jennifer Reeser. Reeser’s name came up in a recent report by the PBS Newshour’s Elizabeth Flock, who was trying to determine what the relatively small number of conservative American poets are doing during a time of great activism by writers opposed to the new Trump presidency.
To address the matter, Flock interviewed conservative poet A.M. Juster. He’s won both the Howard Nemerov Sonnet and Richard Wilbur awards.
But Juster is a pseudonym used for writing. Juster’s real name is Michael Astrue; under that name he worked as associate counsel to both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Flock asked him, “Is there a reason so few prominent poets are conservative?”
Here’s a short version of his explanation: “Poetry has become much more of an academic enterprise, and the poets that become prominent and recognized and reinforce each other are within academics. And the academy is increasingly progressive in its politics, and increasingly exclusionary. There are poets out there, actually quite a few, who are reasonably conservative in their politics, but you’re not likely to know about them … This has been the case since at least the ‘70s.”
When Flock asked Juster to name a few prominent conservative poets in the U.S., Reeser’s name was first on the list; said Juster:
“Jennifer Reeser is very interesting. I think she is one of the best of our Native American poets, and a translator of Ana Akmatova, who is maybe the second greatest Russian poet.”
So, while it was short praise, it was very high praise. The Up Fronter will continue to keep readers apprised as Reeser’s work continues to be published around the country.
Sweat The Small Stuff
I hate to report old news. But I thought I’d better let you know that on Jan. 10, Lagniappe Magazine received the following message from Billy Nungesser:
“The return of Wrestlemania to Louisiana and New Orleans is another example of our region’s ability to serve as host to amazing events and welcome visitors from around the country to enjoy our unique culture. I applaud the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation for their diligent effort and support of this major event.”
Major event? Did he say major event? Well, it’s just a bit more than that, don’t you think? Far from being just a “major” event, Wrestle whachamacallit is the biggest dang event in the whole dang history of Louisiana and the whole dang history of the South and the whole dang history of the United States altogether. Words fail me. I mean, I could say the wrestle thing is the “bombdiggity.” But it’s just so much, much more than the bombdiggity. It’s so much more than any of us will ever be able to comprehend, understand or appreciate.
Anyway, a big hats off to Nungesser for being so modest about the paramount importance of the wrestle thing. His humility makes me want to know that somebody somewhere has struck up the band in a stirring rendition of “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.” I’ve got to tell you, Nungesser, you’re doing a fine job — and I mean a crazy fierce job — of doing whatever it is we pay you to do. But don’t do too much, man. Attend to your health. We can’t afford to lose work of this caliber.
Billy Nungesser is the lt. governor of Louisiana.
Scottie P: You know what I’m sayin’?
David Clark (Jason Sudeikis): Well, I’m awake and I speak English, so yeah, I know what you’re saying.
Rose O’Reilly (Jennifer Anniston, addressing Clark): You’re making $500,000 and giving me only $30,000?
Casey Mathis (Emma Roberts): $30,000? I’m only getting $1,000!
Kenny Rossmore: You guys are getting paid?
— Both from We’re The Millers (2013), Dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber
Michael Scott (Steve Carell): I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.
Scott: Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like this compulsive need to be liked: like my need to be praised.
— Both from The Office, 2007, “The Fun Run”
Buffet Of Mediocrity
Many years ago, I heard a radio commercial that began, “How do you find the best restaurant? You look for the one with the most cars in the parking lot.”
I laughed and thought, “No, that’s how I’d find a poor restaurant.” A restaurant that’s phenomenally popular might not have the worst-tasting food one can eat, but it’s likely to have the blandest food. Its food can’t be spiced in any way that’s even remotely out of the ordinary. The food must appeal to the lowest common denominator. There can’t be any hint of any spice or herb or flavor that might inspire the most boorish oaf imaginable to say, “Hey! This tastes weird!” The philosophy at such places is always going to be: deep fry it and pour on the salt and sugar; do that, and your parking lot will be full.
I take it as a certainty that if something is extremely popular, it is extremely unlikely to be of any value or interest to me.
This brings to me my recent email from Amazon Prime concerning Prime’s “Most Interesting Moments of 2016.” The email laid out in clear detail the boring commodities that sold the most in Prime last year. Here are the soporific [“tending to cause sleep” — Miriam-Webster] details:
— Most played song: “Hello” by Adele
— Most popular release-date delivery: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
— Most downloaded book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
— Honorable Mention: The Five Love Languages
— Most read magazine: People
— Most popular audiobook: No Excuses!
It isn’t often that a columnist tells his readers in such great detail how they can be exactly like everybody else. You’re welcome.
‘Essential’ Seafood Cookbook
Some of you may feel that you have more Louisiana seafood cookbooks than you’ll be able to work your way through in a lifetime. But others, who, for one reason or another, are just getting started with Louisiana seafood cooking, may be looking for a solid, basic cookbook to begin with.
The brand new Essential Louisiana Seafood Cookbook may fit the bill. It comes from a good source — the long-established and highly respected magazine Louisiana Life.
The book contains 50 Louisiana seafood recipes — both contemporary and traditional — by Stanley Dry, who writes the “Kitchen Gourmet” column for Louisiana Life and was once the senior editor of Food & Wine magazine. The reader is promised easy-to-follow recipes that make use of local seafood that can be found in “the state’s lakes, swamps, bayous and marshes.”
The method for ordering the cookbook is a little unusual, so I’ll walk you through it. When you visit the page at louisianaseafoodcookbook.com, you’ll see the big headline “The Essential Louisiana Seafood Cookbook.” Under a large photo of the book’s cover is the sentence “Order YOUR ‘The Essential Louisiana Seafood Cookbook’ here,” with the word “here” in bright blue. When you click the blue “here,” you’ll get a form with the title “Seafood Cookbook Subscription Order Form.” In spite of the confusing word “Subscription,” this is your order form. Fill out the form and send $17.95 and you’ll get your book. In spite of what the form says, you’re not subscribing to the magazine; you’re ordering the cookbook.
These days, Louisiana Life is apparently operating out of the Web site myneworleans.com. That might be the best place to start if you want more info.