Local Blog O the Week
"The Adventures of Aaron Proctor in St. Louis"
Author: Aaron Proctor
About the blogger: "I'm former Pasadena (California) human-relations commissioner, Aaron Proctor. On May 7th, 2007, I lost my job. At 25 years old, I had no other option but to move in with my parents while I re-establish myself. So, I'm re-establishing myself: thousands of miles away in St. Louis, Missouri."
Recent Highlight (June 26): Stupid Things on TV Here and New Slang I Learned
It's my 12th day here in the "Heartland" ...or as I'm calling it "Aaron Proctor's Heartland Exile: Day 12." Now I've witnessed some pretty dumb (or let's just use a synonym: "Midwestern") things in my 12 days here. People pronouncing the state "Missoura." More churches per square mile than Jerusalem. An anti-abortion television ad just about every commercial break. Bud Light is considered a fancy libation. Or a person drawing a blank stare anytime I use a word with more than two syllables (and then have the intestinal fortitude to try and explain something to me!)
This little St. Louis "gem" takes the cake, though: http://www.beckyscarpetandtile.com/
Becky's Carpet and Tile. Go meet Becky. She flies around on a carpet. She has been around for many years, had modest success with her business, and still can't afford a decent commercial. She also, apparently, hasn't been around a mirror in those same amount of years. Maybe some type of mixture of everyone in St. Louis, Becky's Carpet and Tile reeks and screams of Midwestern pseudo-affability. Move over Crazy Eddie, Jack Steffan, and Adee Do there's a new crown jewel in television cheese.
I've also learned some slang while I've been here. The term "Hoosier." I normally thought of the term Hoosier as the way to describe either a person from Indiana or a fan of Indiana University's sports program. However, I've learned the term is kinda similar to the older California insult/term, "Okie." If you're not familiar with the slang term "Okie," it's an insult used by Californians during the days of Route 66 to describe the borderline retarded (or let's just use a synonym: "Southern") people who now make up the "great" cities of Bakersfield, Fresno, and Fontana. The term was derived from the mass exodus of people from Oklahoma to California who were tired of the dust bowl but also were afraid of reading books. At least one of those two things have carried on in their lineages.
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Megan Linehan is a self-proclaimed "expert on all things Harry Potter." A recent graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., Linehan chose for her senior thesis a critical analysis of the Harry Potter book series, a work she titled Accio Brain: The Political and Social Aspects of Harry Potter. Since graduating, the 23 year-old has taken a job at a Borders in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she's spearheading the store's "Grand Hallows Ball" on Friday in celebration of the arrival of the series' final installment.
Unreal: What other topics did you consider for your thesis?
Megan Linehan: We had to submit three topics. My first was Chaucer, but I didn't really sell that, I wasn't too into that. The other was the French Fabliaux. A few professors were like, "Don't do [Harry Potter]." I was like, "No, I really have to do it and prove it's worthy of study at academic level."
Nothing like good advice.
Harry's a good example of someone going against what people want him to do. I really wanted to examine the political aspects of book, especially in the latter half of the series. A lot of people wrote about Shakespeare, but I thought I could stand up with them and be proud of what I'm working on.
American University's motto is "For God and Country" did you worry about studying a book about witchcraft in England?
I was actually born in Salem, Massachusetts, so there is a funny tie-in.
Did you learn any magic from the books?
All my family is from Ireland, so we do believe in fairies. My best friend is named Maeve, which is the name of the Queen of the Fairies. Her grandmother would actually tie her to the table; that way she wouldn't get stolen by fairies. Maybe witchcraft is in my blood.
I'm sure you know that when J.K. Rowling came up with the idea for HP she wrote it on a cocktail napkin. Was that your strategy as well?
Well, I've done a little bit of writing. I was actually hoping that after the last book came out I could get my information published in an article or book.
More in academic studies, actually. But there is some good stuff online. Some of it is monstrous, though, in length. Some people write 200,000 pages, just go for it which I think is pretty admirable.
Do you think it will end with Harry throwing the ring into the fires of Mordor or blowing up the Death Star?
Blowing up the Death Star. He should definitely go for the Death Star. And the ghost of Dumbledore will be watching him telling him he's not alone. And Hermione is his secret sister.
Having polished off the wedding cake that accumulated on 07/07/07, Unreal was shocked to learn that the Show-Me state is home to two communities that sit at opposite poles of the marriage divide: O'Fallon and Independence.
According to the venerable Pew Research Center, O'Fallon, fresh from its victory lap after placing 39th on Money magazine's 2006 "Best Places to Live" poll, boasts a 69 percent marriage rate the highest in the nation.
Meanwhile, folks across the state in Independence registered an 18 percent divorce rate the country's fourth highest.
"I'll be dogged," exclaims a surprised Don Reimal, mayor of Independence. "Our economy is good. We have 160 or 170 churches in town. It's a laid-back community. We're not under a lot of pressure."
Maybe that's the problem. According to U.S. Census data, Independence's population has been stagnant since 1990, changing less than one percentage point. What's more, more than half of all Independencians have lived in the same home for more than five years.
Compare that to wedded O'Fallon, a city that has witnessed its population explode by more than 150 percent since 1990. This is a town with an 89 percent home-ownership rate. That said, only 39 percent of O'Fallinos have lived in the same house for more than five years.
OK. So O'Fallon's growing. Does that explain this city's license to wed?
"I wouldn't even know where to start," says Mary Wilson, the city's public-relations chief. "Like any other city that grows, more and more families are moving in because they find that O'Fallon is a great place to live. The city prides itself on family values and having lots of things to do for families."
Not surprisingly, Mary Wilson is married: "At this point I think I'm at that age where everyone I know has gotten married," she says.
Down but not out, Mayor Reimal says he knows plenty of married folks in his burg.
"I know people that have dated their significant other in high school and been married after high school and are still married today. My secretary is one of 'em; I'm one of 'em. Many of our friends, it's the same thing," says the mayor, who adds that his hands are tied when it comes to keeping his constituency wed. "Our budget's not big enough for me to be paying people to stay married, but I've been married 43 years and I have no desire to break another one in."