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The Idle American
Spotlight Shines on Swine…
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 • Posted September 23, 2008

Swine, perhaps since Noah’s Ark, have hogged the lowest tier of barnyard animals, sharing “no respect” status with the late Rodney Dangerfield.

We feed cattle, sheep, horses, chickens and turkeys, but--you’ll pardon the expression--we slop the hogs.

Word pictures are no better. Some of us eat like hogs; others “pig out.” Still others are as fat as hogs or squeal like hogs. We are warned not to buy “pigs in pokes,” and urged always to close the door. To leave it ajar is to invite the indignity posed by the old “were you raised in a barn” question. The barn, of course, is the building right next to the pig pen….

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Rightly or wrongly, the general view is that swine are anemic on the IQ scale. This notion dates back to pre-kindergarten days, when the nursery story of the Three Little Pigs buoyed allegations of their being “dim of wit.” This story was a dead giveaway, or would have been if one of the pigs hadn’t built his house of bricks.

Even the Holy Bible besmirches these split-hoofed animals, warning us against “casting our pearls before swine.”

However, comments by presidential hopeful Barack Obama have caused a spotlight swing to (drum roll) PIGS!...

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Too many people have their “snouts out of joint” on both sides of the political aisle.

I say that slack should be cut for him and for vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

We don’t take most statements from politicians seriously, so why should we magnify these few words about pigs, lipstick and such? Intentionally or not, they’ve “perked up” the economy. And isn’t it preferable to consider pork in a new light? Usually, it’s Congress shining dim lights of crooked beams into smelly pork barrels….

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TV newsman Bill O’Reilly invites viewers into his “no spin” zone. Madison Avenue ad writers, however, will do what they do best: spin away.

Suffice it to say that we need to consider investments in “anything pork.”

You can bet that Revlon, Clinique, Maybelline, Cover Girl, L’Oreal and Max Factor people have picked up on the banter. They’re “licking their lips” at new cosmetic spins….

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Look for unprecedented consensus efforts by members of all the companies’ advertising departments.

They’ll all be emphasizing their products’ “smearability.”

Another common goal will be to achieve the “just right,” uh, “PIGmentation.”…

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They’ll unveil a plethora of dazzling “new and improved” products.

And straight ahead are glitzy new names for all the “make-over” businesses. For years, “beauty shop” sufficed. Then, “salons” came along. What’s next?

I suggest a prize for the new name that captures the essence of our “porcine preoccupation.” How about “PIGSTYlist?”…

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Oh, my. Who would have guessed that “swine talk” would elevate so quickly from lowest tier to sacred cow status? (This is NOT your grandfather’s “pig” Latin.)

For years, pork-processors have bragged about marketing “everything but the squeal.”

Forward-thinking entrepreneurs in the field may find uses for the squeals, too, but right now, they’re working around the clock, filling back orders for silk purses made from sows’ ears….

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Long have I wanted to present a favorite poem in this space, but promised myself not to do so “until pigs fly.” I mean, how often do pig poems “fit?” Now!

In researching it, my eyes crossed, since the Internet doesn’t provide “for sure” documentation as to authorship. The ‘Net sources don’t even come to terms on the name of the piece, and there’s uncertainty whether it is a poem or a song. I now know that the piece is sometimes called The Pig Song, and at other times, The Pig and the Inebriate.

The author likely was the late Clarke Van Ness, who checked out back in 1925….

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I’ve recited the work many times over the years to audiences of youth.

Turns out my recitations were the first verse only. (On your down time, you might want to “Google” the poem/song for the full dose.)

Anyway, here’s the way I presented the work:

It was late in cold November, in a town I can’t remember,

I was carrying home a jug with foolish pride.

When my feet began to stutter, I fell down in the gutter,

And a pig came up and lay down by my side.

As I lay there in the gutter thinking thoughts I dare not utter,

A lady passing by did chance to say:

You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses,

And the pig got up and slowly walked away….

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What a temptation it is to close with Porky Pig’s famous line: “That’s all, folks!”

But this, quite simply, would be untrue.

As I mentioned, the piece has verses about several barnyard animals. But the pig was listed first. You can look it up….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com

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