Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Phenomenon of Pop Culture and its Effect on the Public's Knowledge of Mellivora capensis

According to Wikipedia, a honey badger is (Mellivora capensis), also known as the ratel, is a species of mustelid native to Africa, Southwest Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent.

Tell that to "Randall."

Randall is the narrator of the hilarious un-scientific viral youtube video entitled "The Nasty Crazyass Honey Badger." Using National Geographic footage of a honey badger in the African wild, Randall spoofs the seriousness of your typical nature show by describing the badger in a vulgar, effeminate, and sometimes exasperated narration, including the popular line that the honey badger "doesn't give a $^!#."

In pop culture, the descriptive narration of the badger as a badass has been appropriated by the show Glee, college football experts, and the reference embraced by my clique, Johnny Weir's description of figure skater Keegan Messing. The moniker stuck to the diminutive Alaskan skater, and by Sunday afternoon, was referenced several times by NBC broadcasters Scott Hamilton.

So what's to love? Well... it's funny. The narrator treats the badger in the wild as a badass with a bone to pick with the world. The text is teeming with catchphrases that can be repeated, giggled about, and passed on. As with any phenomena of the past, such as "Where's the Beef?", "Party time, excellent!", "All your base are belong to us," is the catch phrases are easily digestible, easily understood and briefly become part of popular culture. It will also quickly become a thing of the past by the summer.

So embrace and relish the absurdity, hilarity and 2012-ness of the honey badger. Or don't... honey badger don't care.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What's Right with the World - A Penny for a Ride

A local grocery store chain has a very nice feature in their store, a mechanical horse ride named Sandy that a kid can ride for a penny.

These days of debit cards, food stamps, extreme couponing and rubbing two nickels together to make the grocery bill can make a penny or two scarce. That's why I was so heartened to see this little pile of pennies on Sandy's base, making it possible for 5 kids to get a free ride.

It's only pennies, so what makes this so special? The insignificance of it makes it significant. There's no glory in giving a penny, but SOMEONE had to make an effort to give it. As a gift, it's intent is pure -- go have fun it, it's on me. And to see them there was a delightful surprise to me.

I took a picture of the pile and posted it on facebook. Immediately, friends and family posted reminices of riding Sandy after grocery shopping. Others were also inspired to leave their own pile of pennies in the grocery store to give other penniless kids a treat.

Just a little thing about the nature of people that makes me smile.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why Art Matters - Michelle Kwan

Michelle performing arguably her most iconic program, Lyra Angelica.

With US Figure Skating Nationals starting next week and her induction into the USFSA's Hall of Fame, it is only fitting this Why Art Matters is dedicated to Michelle Kwan. 

Where to even start? Nutshell bio, Michelle burst onto the senior skating scene with an impressive 6th place finish at the US Nationals in 1993. One year later, she was the Olympic alternate, finishing a quiet second in the midst of the Tonya/Nancy controversy.

But Kwan would not live in the shadow of the scandal for long. From this unassuming start to her skating career, she went on to become the most decorated figure skater in US history: 9 national titles, 5 world titles, two Olympic medals in silver and bronze.

But what sets Michelle apart from other skaters, outside of her victorious streak? While other skaters trotted out tried and true fare like Carmen, Swan Lake, and movie soundtracks, Kwan pushed the envelope with musical choices like The Feeling Begins, Taj Mahal, Song of the Black Swan, A Day in the Life and her legendary East of Eden.

She trusted choreographer Lori Nichol and with her created masterful pieces like Rachmaninoff short of '98, Lyra Angelica, The Red Violin, Romanza, Salome.  She had such a backlog of amazing programs, she tossed aside such classics in the making as Rush and The Miraculous Mandarin.

Then there was the actual skating itself. She revived and popularized moves such as the spiral, the falling leaf, the Charlotte spiral, and Y spin. She turned a weakness, the layback spin, into a strength by creating variations that saved her back and made sense within the program. She was also a consistent competitor who can lay claim to the most clean 6 and 7-triple long program in competition.

Even in the face of loss, Kwan showed distinct grace few competitors could match. The legitimate second place finisher during the national championships in 1994, Kwan had a claim to the an Olympic spot, a place she demurely relinquished to Nancy Kerrigan without fuss, fight or a lawsuit. Her reward was the silver in '98. A disappointment? While she was the gold-medal favorite, she pointed out many times in interviews and press conferences that a.) nothing in this life is guaranteed; b.) she won the silver with a great performance; c.) that Tara, someone that she likes, won. In '02, coming up short as the bronze medalist, she continued to be her philosophical self, and bravely skated an exhibition to Fields of Gold, a melancholy song about loss that brought so much about who Kwan is into perspective. And finally, having been petitioned onto the Olympic team in 2006, she aggravated an injury that made competing impossible. Instead of trying to hide the injury or tough it out, she graciously relinquished her spot to US bronze medalist Emily Hughes, who turned a once-in-a-lifetime chance into a seventh place finish.

Kwan has moved on with her life in the fields of education and politics. What she has left behind is a staggeringly masterful body of work that will be used as a bar for other ladies - US and the world - to reach. While she has been surpassed athletically by skaters such as Yu-Na Kim and Mao Asada, none thus far have taken judges and an audience on an emotional 4-minute journey quite like Kwan.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Typing Out Loud - working with a headache

Oh dear God, I've been trying to write this for a couple hours. I feel like my IQ drops a signinficant number of points when a tension headache gets so bad I can barely function. It hurts so bad, my ear hurts. So this could be a line list of rambling crap, a typing out loud early January entry.

"Happy Endings" - supposed to be hilarious, but after watching several episodes, I don't get it.

Awesome update: my quirky ancedote earned me not one but TWO entries in the 5/3 RBR, so I guess I'm doing it after all. The great news is there is a 7am heat going out so I can do this and judge in Holland later on.

Household improvements have been a consistent chore since the introduction of the tile and carpeting. I spent a whole week in the kitchen alone, wiping down cabinets, repainting walls, polishing the trash can, and scrubbing appliances. Other chores have been new curtains and rods, new blinds and a new paint job/coating for the counter top in the master bath. Next up should be new flooring in the laundry room, the room that incidentially got things going last year.

Bad boy: Will ate 4 ice cream sandiwches for breakfast yesterday, much to my dismay. I understand how he was able to sneak ONE, but FOUR? He polished one off, and pulled two more out of nowhere. The fourth was after his bath and he had a fistfull of mushy cookie and cream - and sometimes, it's just better to let it go.

I fell asleep last night contemplating truth v. lying and wondering if honesty is always the best policy. I know the truth can hurt, but when is it too painful and delusion and fibs are the best policy? Nothing personal, just one of those things that make you go hmmmm.

I found a new podcast that I love, Stuff Mom Never Told You. It's a mix of history, sociology, science and technology but from a feminist point of view. I downloaded a handful last week and listened to them on a trip to Jackson, came home and downloaded 50 more. Fascinating topics have included female income disparity, baby beauty pagents, absorbed twins, nuns, facts about abortion (sans politics), and imaginary friends. I appreciate the hosts because their delivery is engaging conversation without being giggly girly.

Van Der Sloot feels "really bad" about killing the Peruvian girl? Well, at least you apologized you sack of crap. Ridiculous.

Can't wait for US Figure Skating Nationals. Two weeks is too long!

How long until catchers and pitchers report? Will is anxiously awaiting the Caps to start.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Playlist - Let's Take a Chance

I've got no amazing playlist planned for this month, so I'm going to open my iPhone, "spin" the song list three times, and list the first 3 songs that come up, and one last time for the "joker's wild" 10th selection.

Get yer earbuds!

Spin #1!
Bullet the Blue Sky - U2
Buncha Girls - Frankie Ballard
Buttercup - Lucinda Williams

Spin #2!
The Game Has Changed - Daft Punk
Get Out of Denver - Bob Seger
Girl That I Knew Somewhere - The Monkees

Spin #3!
Pon De Replay - Rihanna
Pop Goes the Weasel - 3rd Bass
The Power - Snap!

Joker's Wild!
Sugar Bee - Cleveland Crochet

So what did we get? One cajun song, old school rap, industrial, a couple dance/club songs, classic rock, indie rock, 60s pop and country rock. That was as random as possible...