Al

Noni plant

Noni

Aj is not a word, so we come to al, an Indian mulberry. Wait, that sounds awfully familiar. Aha, that’s because I wrote about the variant spelling aal already.

It’s an evergreen shrub, Morinda tinctoria, commonly known as the Indian mulberry. The root bark of the young plant is used to make red, brown or purple morindone dye.

It seems there’s another species, Morinda citrifolia, which is also known as the Indian mulberry, or aal, or al. Both these shrubs can be used in the production of a dye which is use in batik. Both bear the noni fruit, which apparently has become the subject of some controversy.

Words that can be formed by adding a letter in front of al:

We’ve already talked about aal. A bal is a sort of shoe; it’s short for balmoral, which should by no means be confused with an oxford. I always enjoy the lentil dish dal when I can find it, though I spell it dahl. I used to have a gal pal who used the word sal to mean “cool” or “hip,” but I think the orthodox definition is salt, a mostly obsolete term used for chemical compounds like sal ammoniac.

Words that can be formed by adding a letter at the end of al:

Apparently ala refers to a wing or winglike structure; for example, there’s a part of your pelvis known as the wing of ilium. An alb is a long-sleeved priest-like vestment. I think I used to wear one of these when I was an altar boy. We all like ale, right? An alp is a mountain; yes, it’s a common noun. The plural of al is als. An alt is a high note such as an alto might sing.

Noni plant / Dinesh Valke / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Noni / Rob Ellis / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Reading Frenzy

Absalom, Absalom!The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun, #2)The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution & Future of the Human AnimalMidnight Robber


I seem to be reading more these days. I’m a slow reader, but nevertheless I persevere. I’m simultaneously working my way through no less than four books right now.

  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. I’m reading this for the aptly-named Difficult Book Club, which was formed here at the University as part of our Read Today, Lead Tomorrow program. We are only reading one chapter a month, then meeting to discuss it, so it’s slow going.
  • The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe. This might be the fifteenth time I’ve read through the four volumes of the Book of the New Sun, which is my favorite novel of all time. I’m reading this aloud to Xy, for the second time, so one chapter every few nights.
  • The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond. I got this on loan from Brother O’Mara. It’s been on my to-read list for ages, actually a part of my top secret research agenda. Sorry, can’t tell say anything more at this juncture, except that I’m digging the book so far.
  • Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. Wow, a book not written by a white male. I took a break from the previous book to read this one for the Octavia SF Club. It is set on a Caribbean-colonized planet during Carnival, so it’s perfect thing to read right now in New Orleans. Hustle on over to Octavia Books, score a copy, and join us for our next meeting. Great fun.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some more reading to do.

No Surprise

It really comes as no surprise to read the following in today’s paper:

The Rev. Grant Storms, the Christian fundamentalist known for his bullhorn protests of the Southern Decadence festival in the French Quarter, was arrested on a charge of masturbating at a Metairie park Friday afternoon.

Storms, 53, of 2304 Green Acres Road in Metairie, was taken into custody at Lafreniere Park after two women reported seeing him masturbating in the driver’s seat of his van, which was parked near the carousel and playground, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office report said.

The first woman told deputies she was taking her children to the playground and parked next to the van at about noon. As she was walking around her own vehicle, she noticed the van windows were down and the occupant was “looking at the playground area that contained children playing, with his zipper down…,” the report said. The woman noted that he was masturbating and quickly ushered her children out of her car.

She told a second woman, who walked to the van and also spotted the man masturbating, the report said. The second witness told deputies that the driver saw her and tried to conceal the zipper area of his pants with his hand.

Further details from On Top Magazine:

In 2003, [Storms] organized a march in opposition of the [Southern Decadence] event, which he called “nasty” and “depraved.” Storms and his followers picket the festival with signs that read “Adam & Eve NOT Adam & Steve” and loud protests amplified with bullhorns.

Sergeant Larry Dyess, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s office, told WWL Radio that Storms originally told deputies that he was simply urinating in a bottle but later confessed to investigators that he was masturbating inside his van.

Dyess added that Storms, who was arrested on a obscenity charge, was released from jail on Sunday.

NOLA Defender notes:

It would be way more ironic if this didn’t always seem to happen.

But at least he has the balls to apologize:

The conservative pastor known for his condemnation of the Southern Decadence Festival was tearful and apologetic Tuesday in discussing his recent arrest.

The Rev. Grant Storms called himself a “hypocrite” because of his Friday arrest on accusations of masturbating in a public park. Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputies charged him with obscenity after two women claimed they saw him touching himself while watching children on the playground at Lafreniere Park.

Storms said in a news conference Tuesday that he was not watching the children, but he did have his hand in his pants. He apologized to those he has hurt, and he said he was sorry for targeting Decadence, an annual gay festival in the French Quarter.

Storms said he is seeking help for a problem with pornography, which he called a recent issue. He also said he is not living at home — he held the news conference from a motel — and he asked for the media to respect his privacy.

I say all this comes as no surprise. Whenever a (ahem) moral crusader like Storms goes so far over the top and out of his way to put other people down, one suspects maybe he’s hiding from something inside himself. One suspects he’s projecting his demons on others.

As a rule, I don’t post up news stories unless I have something personal to add: I recall one year, perhaps 2004, Xy and I read about the Storms’ protests in advance of Southern Decadence. We were so ticked that we planned to create our own organization, “Our Friends Are Gay.” We were going to make signs and counter-demonstrate. Xy thought the (allegedly) humorous acronym would be embraced by the Decadence crowd, but I was worried the haters would miss the point, that we’d only add fuel to the fire. So we didn’t do it.

I still think the idea of making common cause is generally a good idea; but then I also thought gay marriage was a great issue for civil rights organizing, and we all saw how that played out at the polls in recent election cycles. Nevertheless, just like Muslims in Egypt stood up to terrorism against the Christian minority, just like white folks were a part of the Freedom Rides, I think straight people have a responsibility to stand up to the bullying tactics of people like Storms.

But I guess he won’t be crusading against Southern Decadence again.