Brad Goins Thursday, April 2, 2015 Comments Off on CAN’T BEAT FREE

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. The Up Fronter has been blessed with 10 free tickets to the Quilts for All Seasons Quilt event, which will take place April 17-18 in Sulphur.

As a rule, these tickets go for $5 a pop. But for you … they’re absolutely free of charge.

There’s just one catch. You have to be one of the first 10 people to call me at 433-8502. I’m imposing a limit of two tickets per person. (That means, of course, that in theory, you might have to be one of the first five people who calls.)

If you have young children, this could be a very special deal. The quilt show charges no admission for those 6 and younger.


McNeese 4 Take On Walter White

Many of you will know Dafydd Wood, the son of John and Carol Wood, who were both prominent English professors at McNeese State University.

Dafydd has finished his graduate work in comparative literature, and has now secured a position as assistant professor of English and comparative literature at McNeese.

Dafydd and Jacob Blevins, long-time English professor at MSU, have collaborated on a newly published book titled The Methods of Breaking Bad: Essays on Narrative, Character and Ethics.

It’s good that the book investigates the “methods” of the show — and not just because of the double-entendre of the word “methods.” More than one viewer must have wondered just what narrative devices Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan used to convince viewers that a mild-mannered chemistry teacher could transform himself into a ruthless and fearless criminal mastermind who uses “methods” both conniving and heartless to promote the purest meth in the West.

Wood is right on top of this line of thought, arguing that character development is important in the most appreciated television shows of recent years (Breaking Bad won 16 Emmys in its five years). These new, complex, sophisticated shows are, Wood says, more like novels than old-fashioned TV dramas. Indeed, Wood argues that Breaking Bad presented “arcs” of the complete character development of 62 different characters.

For the book, Wood and Blevins edited a series of scholarly but readable articles about Breaking Bad. One of the contributions is by Matthew Butkus, assistant professor of philosophy at McNeese. Ron Darbeau, head of the school’s department of chemistry and physics, contributed another.

Dafydd Wood has a gift for keeping on top of new things that are worth investigating and contemplating. There are a number of books of this type about Breaking bad; with this one, you won’t have to wonder about the quality of the content.

The Methods of Breaking Bad is a 220-page book published by McFarland & Co. On Amazon, the book sells for $33.25. Used copies are already selling for as little as $24. The Kindle edition is $9.99.


I Came Through With All 10

Certainly it’s very old news by now. But I figured readers would want to know how I survived The Great Louisiana/Texas Winter Weather Massacre Of Feb. 23, 2015.

It all started early on the morning of Feb. 23, when I came into the office and checked the morning email. There was an email from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office informing me that the governor had declared Louisiana to be in a state of emergency due to “the winter weather.”

“What the hay?” I wondered. I’d just walked to work, and I hadn’t even been cold enough to zip up my jacket. Had I misunderstood the email? Did the governor know something I didn’t?

Turns out he did. As folks in the office started making calls, I overheard astounding things. All the schools in the Greater Calcasieu area would be closed due to the “winter weather.” Someone called the D.A.’s office in Vernon Parish and was told the office was closed and would stay closed for at least another day.

I asked a salesperson in the know what school systems would be closed the next day. She recited them so fast, I couldn’t write them all down: “Orange, Tyler, Newton, Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles …”

Now I was starting to get scared. It was time to take action. I logged onto Weatherunderground.

And suddenly, I understood it all. The temperature outside was 41. 41! FORTY-ONE DEGREES!

My muscles seized up in an instant. I fell into a deep state of hypothermia and collapsed onto the floor, curling into a fetal position under my desk. I quickly lost consciousness.

I figure I was out for 45 minutes. As soon as I woke up, I checked my extremities for signs of frostbite. Everything seemed fine — for the moment.

Even though I knew it was deadly cold outside, I figured I should man up and risk the one-block walk to Rite-Aid and hope against hope that there was some product there I could use to prevent frostbite of the fingers with which I earn my living.

I was in luck. The store stocked “English” Billy’s Cajun Firestorm: The Miracle Elixir That Stops Frostbite Dead Before You’re Dead. The instructions read: “Apply liberally on any occasion when the temperature dips below 62 degrees.” Those wonderful instructions saved my career … and my life!

The store only had one bottle left. It was a close call, but I had my bottle. I was saved.

It all reminded me of a time long ago when I lived in central Illinois. I was listening to a radio as I worked on my back porch. The MC announced that as of that day, it had been six consecutive weeks since Campaign, Ill., had been above freezing. Yet there we all were, going to school and work every day, just as if there weren’t a hint of danger in the air.

How can people who think they’re so smart be so naive about the weather? I have a word for it. Recklessness. Up there, they used to tell me, “Fortune rewards the reckless.” I see now they were just trying to brainwash me so that I wouldn’t complain about the schools being kept open. I’m just lucky I got out of there with all my fingers.


Fleming: How ‘Things Are Done’ In D.C.

Last month, when NPR reported that House Republicans had given up their attempt to rein in Obama’s immigration edict — at least temporarily — in order to fund Homeland Security, the NPR reporter turned to one of Louisiana’s Republican representatives, John Fleming, to explain the whole thing.

Fleming did an excellent job of recasting the reporter’s question and getting to the heart of the matter as he did so:

“How did we end up with a kind of a slow demise, you mean, as a result — even after a very hefty kind of rhetoric?”

After having a bit of an on-air laugh about the situation, Fleming got down to work and started cutting to the chase again. “Apparently that’s the way it’s done around here [that is, in D.C.]. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think we should be bluffing anybody. I think we should be out there saying what we’re going to do and do what we’re saying.”

That’s it. Campaign on one thing then do that thing. Apparently that simple notion makes sense to Fleming (and most likely several others from the Louisiana delegation).

Democrats had said they wouldn’t vote for a bill that didn’t provide for complete funding of Homeland Security. Why is that? Is it impossible to cut it by 50 cents? And why are the Democrats invested in Homeland Security anyway? The whole thing was a creation of George W. Bush. Perhaps Dems see it as the one aspect of the Bush administration that is not responsible for the problems the Dems are having six years on.

Some conservative Capitol Hill politicians are voicing their opinion that House leadership seems to be more eager to work with Senate Democrats than by Republicans and Independents who’ve been sent to the House in the last two elections to use Legislation to create a government of fiscal responsibility.

Conservative reps were able to get their federal program through in the last term … when they weren’t in the majority. If they can’t do it now that they’re in power in the branch of governments that legislates, folks back home will hold their feet to the fire. And they should.


I Remember

I remember … Browsing through a bin at Woolworth’s where the albums were priced at three for a dollar … Going on vacations in the back seat of the family’s non-air-conditioned Corvair with my brown bag full of homemade popcorn on one side and my stack of Sad Sack comics on the other … Trick-or-treating until well after dark on streets full of young children doing exactly the same thing.


Blue Skies

The weather is still changeable. But we can take consolation in the fact that crawfish season came a month early. It’s said that sizes are already generous, and a price dip is expected down the way. With just a little concentration, we can always find something to be thankful for. Be thankful and God bless.

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