If you want some powerful evidence that the culture of Southwest Louisiana is unique, look at the proliferation of children’s books in the area and in Lake Charles in particular.
The latest of these, Boudreaux the Louisiana Mosquiteaux, comes from Lake Charles author and illustrator Stacy Bearden. The book is published by Pelican Publishing; it’s been on sale since Sept. 1. You can get it on both the Amazon and Books-A-Million sites, as well as on the author’s website (StacyBearden.com).
Bearden, who works as a piano instructor, lives in Sulphur.
Boudreaux’s story begins as a hurricane blows him away from his mother the instant he’s hatched. Without his mother’s schooling, he has no idea what he should eat. He hits on the idea of asking each of the animals around him what they suggest he eat.
Among the 25 species Boudreaux questions in the book are such bayou favorites as the alligator, wild hog, opossum, egret, pelican and crawfish.
The very simple plot structure — Boudreaux asking “What do I eat?”; the animal saying what he eats and directing Boudreaux to the next animal — is repeated throughout the course of the book with little variation. There is a time when Boudreaux thinks “the animals [are] not being very helpful.” And in one funny moment, when Boudreaux asks the donkey what to eat, that creature replies simply, “Heehaw! Heehaw!” For some reason Boudreaux takes this as an insult, and says, “How dare you!” But for the most part, the extremely simple plot form is not varied.
This tells me that the book is for very young children who are in the early stages of being read to. Although I’m no expert on such things, I’m guessing children over age 4 would lose interest in the story before the end. Children who love to have the same simple story read over and over to them might grow quite fond of this one.
I’m also guessing that to the degree that the book has a purpose, that purpose isn’t to get a child engrossed in a narrative; it’s to teach children to identify different animals. The illustrations should work well for that purpose.
To return to the book’s story, it’s the hound dog who, near the end of the story, tells Boudreaux that mosquitos “eat” Cajuns.
The outcome of Boudreaux’s attempt to “eat” a Cajun turns out pretty much as you’d expect it to. If you think there’s any chance your very young child will identify with the mosquito, you might preface the tale by explaining to him or her that people see mosquitos as pests — and especially annoying ones at that. For better or worse, people and mosquitos just don’t get along. Of course, many young children will already understand this.
After the book’s story, Bearden provides a nice one-page essay on the basic facts about mosquitos that will make fine reading for children who are a little older (perhaps 5 through 10).
Bearden’s illustrations are not minimal and one-dimensional in the way that many children’s book illustrations are these days. On the other hand, his work is substantially less detailed than that of Maurice Sendak or Shel Silverstein.
I think Bearden’s illustrations have a charming, colorful, basically simple look that will please children. Some of the illustrations, like the drawing of a somewhat sad-looking raccoon couple against a sunny background, would look good on display. This is art that is comforting (at least right up to the very end).
Boudreaux the Louisiana Mosquiteaux is a paperbound book with 8-inch by 8-inch pages. Although, again, I’m no expert in the field, I’d guess the $9.95 price is pretty good for what will probably be a good reading experience for many young children.
Not A Completely New Era
Many readers will know by now that Contraband Days has been renamed the Louisiana Pirate Festival. That name change may, to some degree, anyway, reflect the fact that the term “contraband” has always served as a reminder that pirate Jean Lafitte traded in slaves. (The press release on the festival’s new name didn’t mention Lafitte once.)
Festival organizers say the festival is “entering into a new era” in which it will focus on “Louisiana culture,” and especially folklore. Let’s hope all that is the case.
I thought it was a good move to waive the admission fee for last year’s festival. More could be done. Instead of scheduling a bunch of cover bands, organizers could seek out young, innovative musicians who would get young audiences energized, and give them happy associations with the festival.
There was at least one prominent reminder of how the festival was before it entered the “new era.” An astonishing passage in the press release read: “The festival’s website is currently under construction, and there will be an announcement later for the website reveal that will showcase the spirit of the Louisiana Pirate Festival.”
OK. This is the kind of stuff that puts people off. You’re undertaking a complete rebranding and your website isn’t even up? Get it up! You need to have a “website reveal” to have a working website for your fest? Howsabout I leave three pages of the magazine blank, providing nothing but a brief note that my next column will run after I have a “column reveal”?
It’s not as if you’re being asked to build the Ferris wheel from the ground up from scrap. It’s a website! Calling a tech should be a whole lot less work than organizing a festival.
Health Care Legislation Versus Pizza
Some time ago, the Up Fronter opined that D.C. noobie and Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy had made a pretty big score when he’d signed on with such a powerful figure as Lindsay Graham to craft a health bill.
Big fame means big problems. And Cassidy’s latest problem (aside from seeing the bill put on hold) is late night talk show man Jimmy Kimmel.
Cassidy was interviewed by Kimmel just after the host’s son had open heart surgery. Naturally, Kimmel was interested in where Cassidy stood on coverage for such surgeries and their aftermaths. Kimmel seemed satisfied with Cassidy’s answers. Cassidy said he’d passed the Jimmy Kimmel Test — “No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.” Ever since the show, Cassidy’s been talking about how his and Graham’s bill passes the Kimmel Test.
Well, there’s such a thing as getting too much power too fast. That’s what Cassidy found out when he co-sponsored another health care bill with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. Kimmel read this new bill and concluded it most decidedly did not pass the Kimmel test.
How swifter than an adder’s tongue is the scorn of an angry Jimmy Kimmel. On his show, he grilled Cassidy over a well-banked fire. Here are a few of the best jabs, zingers and funnies:
“A few months ago, after my son had open heart surgery … a senator named Bill Cassidy from Louisiana was on my show and he wasn’t very honest … This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face.”
The latest version of the Graham-Cassidy bill, said Kimmel, really does pass the Kimmel test because “your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if and only if his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed.”
Kimmel said he had a new Jimmy Kimmel test for Cassidy. “It’s called a lie detector test. You’re welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.”
Kimmel said before his son’s health dilemma arose, he never dreamed he’d become an expert on health care. “My area of expertise is eating pizza. And that’s really about it.”
Cassidy did not say that Kimmel was incorrect about all this. The strongest statement he could muster was one he made on the CNN program New Day: “I’m sorry he does not understand.”
Senator, you’re going to have to do better than that if you want to go up against who I consider to be a heavy hitter like Kimmel. You might consider moving into the field of pizza eating.
Louisiana And The Great War
Is your knowledge of World War I not quite what you’d like it to be? There’s an easy and fun way to fix that.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol is hosting “For Home and Country: Louisiana in the Great War” — an exhibit so big it fills three museums.
The exhibit takes place during the centennial year of the nation’s entrance into WWI.
One part of the exhibit, “Campaigning for Victory: Poster Art of the Great War,” displays WWI propaganda posters from Louisiana’s State Archives. Other artifacts pertaining to Louisiana’s experience of the Great War, and particularly the activities of Louisiana’s leaders to prepare the state for wartime, accompany the posters. This part of the exhibit will run through Dec. 16.
At the USS Kidd, where the “Voices From the Lost Generation: Louisianans in World War I 1917-1918” part of the exhibit is housed, we are told that patrons can “step into the trenches, peer across No-Man’s Land, and hear the sounds of battle. [They can] see how the men lived and fought on the front lines of Europe.”
At the Capitol Park Museum’s show “For Home and Country: Louisiana in the Great War,” artifacts are organized into four sections: the home front, mobilization, the war front and memorialization. Artifacts include recruitment posters, military uniforms, a Mauser Tankgewehr M1918 and memorabilia from Camp Beauregard. This show will remain on display through June, 2018.
Refreshments will be served at each of the three locations. Intimidated by the prospect of handling transportation to three different locations? Don’t be. Free transportation will be provided to each museum courtesy of Capital Area Transit System.
The Old State Capitol is located at 100 North Blvd. in Baton Rouge.
Folks, This Is Literally HUGE!!!!
I know some readers have been wondering how long it will be until they get another Up Front update from the Ashtar Command Tribe. Well, the wonderful time has come.
I really wanted to pass on the latest message from Ashtar Commander BenArion — just imagine having a name like BenArion — because the message has SO MANY CAPITAL LETTERS!
I’m going to take a slightly different approach this time. First, I’m going to reprint BenArion’s message exactly as he sent it. Then I’m going to rewrite it to show how he could convey the same message while using correct capitalization and punctuation. Let’s see how it works:
“P.S. On Monday, September 18th I will send you an email with the subject line ”Your Journey To Self-Mastery,” where I will reveal my FORMULA to achieve your GREATEST desires and dreams, through a Powerful STEP-BY-STEP course, that literally helped me through the BIGGEST challenges.
“It helped me to stay on ‘track’ even when I felt there was no hope … What I learned was BEYOND my comprehension, and I could just do ‘one thing’ with everything I’ve experienced … to support you on your path to self-mastery … Out with the Old and in with the new.”
So, here’s my alternative, corrected version:
“P.S. On Monday, September 18th I will send you an email with the subject line ‘Your Journey To Self-Mastery,’ where I will reveal my really, really super-fantastic formula to achieve your very greatest and I mean most absolutely super-plus greatest desires and dreams, through a stupendously, almost unbelievably, powerful course that goes step-by-step, only step-by-step and no other way than step-by-step that literally — I don’t mean figuratively; I mean this really happened just exactly as I say it did, folks — helped me through the biggest, hugest, most ginormous and most incredibly gargantuan challenges ever known on this planet.
“It helped me to stay on a hypothetical track — not a real track, but a track that exists only in the imagination — even when I felt there was no hope … What I learned was beyond — oh so far beyond, I mean so far beyond you can’t even see it from beyond — my comprehension, and I could just do one thing — a thing that, again, didn’t really exist, but could only be imagined; the kind of thing you’d want to put quotation marks around because you know it doesn’t really exist in 3D reality — with everything I’ve experienced … to support you on your path to self-mastery … Out with the really, incredibly triple-double-super-ancient old and in with the plain old ordinary new.”
Well, now I am literally going to stop doing this parody and am literally going to write what I mean to write with the exact words that will literally convey the literal meaning I wish to convey.
“This actress turned into a knife maker”
— CNN, Sept. 25 headline
“Sarah Jessica Parker to lead walking tour of New York City”
— CNN, Sept. 26 headline
“Unknowing pup swims in alligator-infested waters”
— USA Today, Sept. 26 headline
“Keeping up with the Kardashian baby news”
— CNN headline, Sept. 27
“Female rapper bumps Taylor Swift from top Billboard spot”
— CNN headline, Sept. 27.
Notes: The last two stories were found in CNN’s “top news” list. And, yes — no need to ask; I have added “Keeping up with the Kardashian baby news” to the list of nominees for the Up Front Most Newsworthy Headline of All Time Award.