Archive for the ‘Research’ Category
It’s Saturday night, almost midnight, and your hero has just arrested a couple of strangers who sort of sound as if they’re speaking English. Sure, every third or fourth word is recognizable, but phrases such as, “If’n you don’t let me go I’ma gonna stomp a mud hole in your ass,” well, they just don’t quite make sense. But the drawl is a dead giveaway. Yep, those folks are from the deep south, where life is just about as fine as frog hair and the cotton grows pert near weevil free.
Still, without an interpreter your hero’s caught twixt a rock and a hard place. But this ain’t her first hog-callin’, no sir. She’s been in this pree-dict-a-ment a’fore. So she reaches for her handy-dandy Officer’s Guide To Southern Speak, and within seconds she’s a hootin’ and a hollerin’ with the best of of ‘em.
You, too, can join in on the conversation, if’n you have a mind to. All you have to do is print out the handy guide (below) and keep it nearby, because you’ll want to know exactly what to do when Bubba Lee Johnson, Jr. says, “You feel froggy…jump.” Of course, the fact that Bubba suddenly spat out his Redman chew—the whole wad—, and snatched off his grease-stained Jeff Gordon For President t-shirt while puffing out his sunken, narrow chest, well, you sort of knew that he was ready to fight. Yup, his words were a dare for you to make the first move (why they always, always, always tear off the t-shirt when they’re riled up is a mystery of the universe, along with black holes and Stonehenge).
Anyway, poke your finger at the print button, ’cause if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I’m fixin’ to help you understand Southern Speak (remember, these sayin’s vary, depending upon where in the south you choose to hang your hat).
To help us out, Bubba Lee is going to share some of his favorite expressions. Take it away, Junior.
1) He’s so poor he cain’t pay attention (a person of meager means).
2) D’rectly (in a little while). “I’ll be there d’rectly.”
3) Like white on rice (extremely close to something or someone). “Bobbi Sue is so stuck on Junior she’s like white on rice.”
4) Looks like two bulldogs in a gunny sack (the motion of a female’s rear end is very appealing). “Hey, Junior, look at ‘ol Bobbi Sue a-walkin’ over yonder. Looks like two bulldogs in a gunny sack.”
5) Fixin’ to (going to). “I’m fixin’ to head down to the liquor store. You want anything?”
Fitzen’ is also acceptable. Its use depends upon locale and/or the amount of snuff packed between the teeth and lower lip. “I’m fitzen’ to drive the lawnmower over to Uncle Billy’s house. I’ma ask him if’n I can borry his pistol to shoot that rat what keeps a pokin’ ’round the kitchen stove. Dang near scared mama to death this mawnin’.”
6) Blessed me out (fussed or cussed). “I got Bobbi Sue pregnant and dang if’n her husband didn’t bless me out. Twice!”
7) Like a cow peeing on a flat rock (a downpour). “It’s raining so hard it sounds like a cow peeing on a flat rock.”
8) Slicker than snot (extremely slippery). “That dad-gum snow made my driveway slicker’n snot.”
9) Fine as frog hair (exceptionally nice). “Why, I’m as fine as frog hair. Thanks for asking.”
10) Rode hard and put away wet (looking pretty bad). “Dang, what happened to ‘ol Bubba Lou? She looks like she’s been rode hard and put away wet.”
11) Hungry enough to eat the south end of a northbound skunk (famished). “I ain’t eat in three days. I’m hungry enough to the eat the south end of a northbound skunk.”
12) Mouse peeing on cotton (extremely quiet). “It so quiet in here it’s, well, quieter’n a mouse peeing on cotton.”
13) Dancing in high cotton (successful/wealthy). “My tax check just come in the mail and I’m dancing in high cotton.”
14) Stove up (sore muscles). “Dang, Lulu’s old man come in the back door and I hadda run all the way home. Now I’m all stove up.”
15) Nabs (Lance snack crackers). “I’m going to the store to get me a pack of Nabs”.
16) Dry conditions/drought. “It’s so dry the catfish are carrying canteens.”
So there’s 16 expressions your hero is likely to encounter in the south. So listen closely and keep your guide handy. And, bless your heart, not everything that sounds nice is a compliment.
Bless your heart – normally an expression meant as a polite insult. Standing alone, well, it normally means that you’ve just been called an idiot, ugly, dumb, etc.
The phrase is often used in a sentence to contradict the subject. “That baby is cute, bless her heart.” Or, “Sure Junior’s smart. So don’t you worry none. He’ll graduate high school one of these years, bless his heart.”
Remember, the above terms and phrases may or may not carry over to all areas of the South. This is a tongue and cheek piece and I mean no disrespect to anyone, and that goes for you, too, Junior, Jr. Yes, I once came across a guy whose actual, real name was Junior, Jr. His father, of course, was Junior, Sr.
Now, before any of you “bless me out,” I’ve lived somewhere in the south most of my adult life. I’ve actually heard the expressions listed above, many, many times.
*This article is intended as a tongue in cheek piece. None of my fellow southerners were harmed in the process…bless their hearts.
Nearly two decades have passed since I watched serial killer Timothy Spencer, The Southside Strangler, die in the electric chair. I knew the details of the case, including that Spencer had been released from prison after serving three years on a ten year sentence for burglary. His release from prison, however, was conditional. He was to live in a state-run halfway house for a predetermined amount of time. The year was 1984. DNA testing was not yet available to law enforcement.
Spencer was allowed to “check out” of the halfway house on weekends. I assume he, like others serving part of their sentences in halfway houses, was allowed to go out to work or search for employment, attend religious services and AA and NA meetings, see a doctor or dentist, shop for clothing, and leave the halfway house on weekends.
During Spencer’s weekends away from the halfway house is when he added other, unauthorized, stops to his schedule. During an eleven week span Spencer visited quiet suburban neighborhoods where broke into the homes of four women. In each of the break-ins, he attacked the women, bound their hands, and then brutally raped and killed them. His murder weapon in three of the four cases was a cleverly designed ligature that tightened more and more as the victim struggled. Detectives weren’t able to locate a single shred of discernible evidence at either of the crime scenes, but they collected any and everything they thought might help locate the killer, including samples of the murderer’s semen.
Finally, a relentless investigator named Joe Horgas heard that British police had identified a killer through DNA matches of blood and semen. Horgas then contacted a lab that specialized in DNA testing and they agreed to help. Horgas soon received the news he’d been hoping to hear—Spencer’s DNA matched the semen samples collected by detectives. Spencer was then arrested, tried, and convicted. It was four years after the first rape and murder.
Timothy Spencer was the first killer in the U.S. sentenced to die based on DNA evidence. I watched him die, and believe me, death by electrocution is far from being a passive exit from this world. A man moaning and breathing hard during lethal injection has nothing on those who’ve ridden Old Sparky on the journey to wherever it is they go after all is said and done. But it is what it is.
Now, back to Spencer and his last day alive on this planet. I mentioned earlier that he showed no signs of remorse, and that he’d offered no final words. But, as years have passed, I’ve often wondered (who knows why) what Spencer had selected as his final meal. I’ve never found out, but here’s why I mentioned it.
Recently, a Cornell University study has concluded that a condemned person’s last meal selection can actually shed a little light as to his/her true guilt or innocence.
For example, researcher Kevin Kniffin, found that inmates who perceive themselves as innocent likely request a meal of fewer calories, or they decline to receive a last meal altogether (Kniffin’s study included the last meals of 247 people who were executed in the United States between 2002 and 2006).
Further, inmates who claimed innocence were 2.7 times more likely to decline a last meal than those who admitted guilt.
Interestingly, Kniffin’s research concluded that those who readily admitted guilty requested 34% more calories and were more likely to request brand name food items.
For example, those who denied guilt requested meals containing approximately 2,000 calories, and that’s if they chose to eat a final meal at all. Death row prisoners who admitted their guilt requested a last supper of approximately 2,800 calories. Those who remained silent, neither confessing guilt or sticking to a claim of “I didn’t do it,” asked for a meal of approximately 2,100 calories.
So, you be the judge. Guilty or Innocent?
1. John Wayne Gacy – 12 fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe KFC, french fries, and a pound of strawberries.
2. Ted Bundy – steak (medium rare), eggs (over easy), hash browns, toast with butter and jelly, milk and juice.
3. Victor Feguer – a single unpitted olive presented on a ceramic plate and accompanied with a knife and fork.
4. Timothy McVeigh – two pints of mint and chocolate chip ice cream
*By the way, Patricia Cornwell’s first book was based on Spencer’s case.