The Mascot Gavotte: And the Award Goes To . . .

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Recently, I was drinking my morning coffee and perusing my tumblr dash – you know: starting the day in a true summer-vacation fashion, and I came across a short blogpost (x) somebody had made about mascots .

blogpost about mascots

As you can see, the writer was basically saying that Mascots are a mockery of furries.

Tangent: What’s a furry, you ask? Well, Urban Dictionary gives a surprisingly-nuanced definition (which you can read by clicking here, if you’d like) that . . . also happens to be pretty long. So, if you’re feeling lazy, lets just define furries as a group of people who anthropomorphize animals to a bajillion different degrees – some of them assuming animal personas to the extent that they identify themselves as an actual animal.

So, now that we’ve got definitions taken care of . . . 

I read some of the comments on the original post, and it ultimately piqued my curiosity about the origin of Mascots. With a whir of my touch-typing fingertips (thank you Mrs. Green, wherever-you-are, it’s the best skill 9th grade gave to me), I started to peruse the massive compendium of knowledge concerning Mascots brought to you by the infallible Saint Wikipedia. (You might not be able to cite it in papers, but it’s a good way to start researching!)

Mascots of Awesome

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Things I learned:

  • the word “mascot” essentially just means “good luck charm”, and owes its English-Language popularization to a French operetta from 1880 that recounted the story of a girl who brought people good luck as long as she remained a virgin
  • a surprising number of mascots are mules – I mean, yes, they’re stubborn and hardworking, but who wants to be an ass?
  • there are a lot of non-animal mascots (not all that surprising until you realize that many are non-human also)
  • while general sports mascots seem to be the largest denomination of mascots, there are also mascots for corporations, bands, and schools
  • Princeton University is the first school in recorded history to have a mascot
  • Victor is a shockingly common name for mascots Victor the Mascot

There is a whole list of mascots (probably incomplete, but still) on Wikipedia for your personal perusing pleasure, and (true to human nature) everybody thinks they have the absolute best. There are polls all over the place about which might be the greatest mascot. Personally, I don’t like #1/ “Best” titles, because they oversimplify. THUS, I have decided to provide you with my very own Mascot Awards Ceremony. I’m sure you’re on pins and needles, so I’ll get right into it.

The Friendliest Nut/Most Indomitable Mascot: Brutus Buckeye of The Ohio State University

Brutus Buckeye

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To take this lighthearted nut at simple face value would be a mistake. Despite his visible cheer, Brutus has had quite a trying history, for an anthropomorphized nut, that is. He’s been kidnapped at least five times since 1965, from what I can gather, and I would daresay he’s come through more hard times than one Buckeye nut ever deserved. Yet, here he is, in 2014, still smiling. Brutus might be a nut, but he is a survivor, and that’s more than many mascots can boast.

The Wildest [Former] Unofficial Mascot to Ever Wield a Pineapple: Vili the Warrior of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Vili the Warrior

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Now retired, apparently, this die-hard, pineapple-toting warrior was quite fearsome, from what I can tell.

The Best Online Profiled Mascot: The Stormy Petrel of Oglethorpe University (Atlanta, Georgia)

Petey the Petrel

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Petey the Petrel's Profile

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Suffice it to say: In addition to his large, plague-mask-reminiscent beak, Petey the Petrel has a very well developed identity, folks.

The Scariest Vegetable Mascot: The Cobbers of Concordia College (In Moorhead, Minnesota)

Concordia College Cobbers

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Seriously. Look at that face.

I never knew corn could be that intimidating, and I grew up surrounded by fields of the stuff. All I have to say is: These fans are missing a golden opportunity if they don’t make extensive wordplay involving the word “clobber”.

Also, as a side note, this leads to some interesting fan-base attire.

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I wonder if any of their opponents have come up with some kind of corn-popper analogy yet.

The Smartest/ “Most Esoteric” Mascot: The Eutectic of the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy.

Morty the Eutectic

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What on God’s green earth is a Eutectic, you ask? It’s the scientific process where two solids combine to form a liquid. (Yes, of course I looked it up. What non-chemist would know that kind of thing???) The best part about this nerdy team symbol is how seriously it is stil taken as a mascot, though.

Eutectics Fans

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The Least Intimidating Mascot: The Banana Slugs of the University of California-Santa Cruz

banana slug mascot

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Surprisingly famous, even making number 1 on ESPN’s 2008 top ten mascot names in College Basketball, this mascot doesn’t exactly strike fear into my heart at first glance. One snarky judge from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals of CA, even referenced them in an opinion discourse.

Supreme Court Banana Slug Nod

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The Most Obscene, Yet Also Possibly The Most Unique Mascot: Scrotie the “friendly phallus” of The Rhode Island School of Design

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This is exactly what you think it is. If you are at all interested in an AMAZING article about Scrotie, please click this link, because the author’s  lovely clear explanation of their mascot is matched in excellence only by the amount of penis-themed, chortle-inducing wordplay they use.   In an article he wrote for the Providence Phoenix, David Scharfenberg calls the RISD sports crew

“a co-ed assemblage that has been turning the dick joke into high art — OK, low art — for 50 years now.”

It’s also worth noting that the ice hockey team of the RISD are called the “Nads” . . . Fans apparently cheer them on with loud cries of “Go Nads!”. No joke. And don’t get me started on the RISD Pricks (a fencing club) and the RISD Seamen (a sailing club).

 The Cutest Mascot: Artie the Fighting Artichoke of Scottsdale Community College

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Now, while they have attempted to render this many-layered vegetable-substitute-for-chips more intimidating with design, the plain truth of it is: Artie is adorable.

arti

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Honorable Mentions Due to their Pun-tastic Names:

Webst-UR the University of Richmond’s Spider

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Whoo RU the Owl Mascot of Rowan University Athletics

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Psalmody: Refuge

The chaotic whirling kaleidoscope of summer has left me feeling a little bit like Dorothy in Oz, waiting to get back to the familiarity and sweetness of my home routines. I have so many things to write about, adventures to recount, and stories to tell . . . but they will all have to wait just a bit longer as I have only just clicked my heels and woken up in my own home at last. It’s quite disorienting, actually.

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I shall gather up the bits and pieces of my sanity and get back to you all soon enough. In the mean time, for the beautiful new day to come, a Sunday, I’ll leave you with a passage I found in the old Psalmody during one of my past trips home to Ithaca, NY. After re-discovering it recently, I decided it most definitely is fitting to share.

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The MOMA; A New Favorite

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Whether it’s scoffing at the extreme simplicity of a single-toned canvas, ogling the more bizarre Dada pieces, getting a close-up of Frida’s unibrow, or losing oneself in the raw beauty of Starry Starry Night, I submit that everyone has a plethora of reasons to visit the MOMA, or the Museum of Modern Art, in NYC. To be honest, I don’t usually count myself in the more avid or fanatical fans of modern art, but my foray in the magic of the MOMA left me reconsidering some of my preconceived notions surrounding the whole genre.

Thoughts, Tips, and Highlights

1.) Bring your student I.D. for a $10 discount!

moma entry

2.) Spend a long, long, long time looking at one of my new favorite paintings, Hide and Seek, by Pavel Tchelitchew

Hide and Seek

Seriously, though. . . the more you look . . . Tchelitchew

the more you discover . . .

hide and seek

it’s insane, yet magical in its level of detail and nuancetchelitchew

3.) Don’t blink, or you might miss Dali’s melting clocks, because that one is SURPRISINGLY teensy! Seriously. 

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This photo gives you some idea as to the proportions. I had no idea. It was very strange…it’s the equivalent of finding out George Washington was only four feet tall, or something.dali1

4.) Appreciate the airy openness and beauty of it all!

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5.) Don’t miss the art they hang over by the elevators. . . this Georgia O’Keefe, for example:georgia o'keefe

6.) Brush up on your knowledge of some big names before you go. . . Matisse, Picasso, and Pollack, to name a few. 

matisse

7.) Knowing a little French was very helpful with understanding many of the paintings!french

8.) Whatever else you do, take a moment to really appreciate the energy captured by each brush stroke in Starry Starry Night. 

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9.) Know your Dada

dada

10.) Don’t overlook the lesser-known wonders while questing for the big names!definition

Bonus: Take at least one silly picture. . . because there you are, in the presence of tangible relics from Art history!silliness

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Happy adventuring at the MOMA, I can’t wait for my next visit!

 

 

 

 

Nightmare on Memory Lane

Like any self-respecting and morbidly curious person, I have a hard time resisting the allure of boxes upon boxes of yellowed documents, brittle papers, and time-induced-sepia-toned photos. Old things fascinate me in a way I cannot truly put into words. When I decipher the beautiful handwriting from the back of a postcard written in 1857, there is a small glimpse into another world. Maybe I just read too many time-travel books as a child, but I am enthralled by the slightest hint at a story behind the artifact. To feed this strange obsession with the memory lanes of people long gone from this world, I occasionally indulge in my desire to rifle through the boxes that pile up in my favorite antique store up in Gloucester, MA. On my latest trip, I decided to collect some of the eeriest photos to share. So, without further ado, here is one strange and unnerving trip down several long-forgotten memory lanes, with imaginary backstory, courtesy of yours truly.

#1:  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and the clandestine affair ended in vengeful bloodshed. two boys two girls

#2: The Unhappy Short Man and His Captive Bridethe short man

#3: Just before the Killing Spreecreepy

#4: What Horrors Has She Seen?what horrors has this woman just witnessed?

#5: They never again spoke of their grim purpose for entering the woods that day.the woman on the right tho

#6: When they looked at the photo, the twins saw the pale image of their murdured father hovering beside the family.eery

#7: Refusing to allow war to split their family apart, the youngest children they took matters into their own hands, uniting everyone in death, for all eternity.family from hell

#8: The six survivors made a pact never to tell how their simple excursion had resulted in the death of a friend.not a fun picnic to be on

#9: The most ruthless gang of murduresses in American History, photographed with two victims just before the attack.creepy beyond all reason

#10: Their Parents would pay for their transgressions. . . with their lives.fearsome family

#11: Quaking in Fearthey are so frightened

#12: They will come for you, make no mistake about that.terror twins

#14: Final sighting of woman with her kidnapper.something is wrong here

#15: And then the game went horribly, horribly wrong.what is happening?

#16: She is forever watching you; her gaze fixed on you. crazy eyes

#17: The smile of the matriarch was the only herald of impending doom.20140717_150213

#18: Children possessed, these small tyrants prepared for the final take-over
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#19: She wished for escape as they planned her eternal exit. There was only one way to leave the crew.20140717_144421

#20: His death looked like an accident.20140717_151114

#21: The demons that possessed them lay in wait, planning their next meal, the photographer, with delight.20140717_150906

#22: Family secrets must be guarded at all costs, and they grimly prepared to do just that.20140717_145538

#23: When the baby was born, the other children began their lifetime of servitude to their new and volatile master. At age one, when this photograph was taken, only two slaves were left.20140717_150534

#24: When the doll became human, not a soul could have predicted the tragedies that would ensue. 20140717_145641

#25: The painting that absorbed the youth of its owners20140717_145531

#26: The three brothers would stop at nothing to find wives.20140717_150642

#27: It was in medical school that he found his true passion, live dissection. creepy2

#27: The orphan girls had no choice but to pretend all was pristine in their dark world.creepy6

#28: The one-room school house and its devious occupants.creepy0

Well, now I’ve officially creeped myself out. I have an overactive imagination, I know. Sorry if you are overly disturbed by my morbid fascination for the dearly departed and these eery glimpses into lives long-past (which were probably perfectly normal, but certainly don’t look it!).

It’s Summer?!

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When did that happen? I was teaching school a few days ago! (Actually, seriously. Like 9 days ago I taught school.)

I shall endeavor to keep anyone and everyone posted on the summer adventures of Cakey Hankerson. . . they shall include wedding showers, family reunions, traveling to most major cities on the easter seaboard (slight exaggeration, but at least a few), finally reading some books, planning fall classes, moving into a new school, the 30th birthday of my dear older brother, GISHWHES 2014 and hopefully lots of sunshine and recharging of the metaphorical batteries!

Happy Summer Everyone!

A Frozen Party

Frozen Party Fun - Title

My niece, like most four-year-old girls lately, is deeply obsessed with the film “Frozen”. I know there’s an awful lot of hype surrounding this movie, and most of you feel a little (if not a LOT) fed up with the song “Let it Go”. . . but what four-year-old gets the concept of too-much-media-coverage? Not my niece, that’s for sure. So, when she had her Frozen Birthday Party, it was my job, as a lovingly obsessed aunt, to make sure the details were as wonderful as I could help make them.

Question 1: What to Wear?

The first question regarding any theme party is one of fashion, am I right? SO, with trepidation and a healthy hatred for mass-produced , overpriced, and poor-quality products, I set about sewing/making a dress fit for a (four-year-old) queen.

Frozen Dress - Details

The fabric is all courtesy of Joann Fabrics, and I used a soft t-shirt as the basis for the bodice , so that no itchy seams would bother my sensory-sensitive niece (nothing was sadder than the day she got a beautiful new Cinderella dress and had to take it off because “it hurts real bad”). I made sure the cape was detachable, and (since I was sewing it without my little model present) we used a fancy snowflake pin (thrift store find!) to bustle up the back.

Dress - Details - modeled by Bizz

It was by no means a work of art in couture, but it did the trick. Izzy was delighted. When I walked in and hung it in the front hall, she saw it and immediately exclaimed “MY DRESS!!!” with such joy, that it was worth any&all work involved. Izzy sees the dress

With a little assistance from her Mommy, her hair was tucked into an Elsa-appropriate braid, and the party could start, since the most beautiful princess of all time felt prepped and ready!Bizz's Dress - frozen party

Seriously, though? One more picture, because never has there been a mini-Elsa this adorable. Queen of her party - Bizz

Question 2: What to Eat?

A birthday is not a birthday without a cake. And D’Amici’s bakery knows how to make a phenomenal cake!

frozen cake

With the cake as a central element, I whipped up some colorfully-appropriate cake pops for those children who prefer all of their food on a stick (ahem: my nephew being one of them!).cake pops - frozen party

It was also deemed important to include some more-substantial/less-sweet snacks to balance out all that sugar. food - the spread

Question 3: What to do?

Having a movie-themed party kind of sets the mood for entertainment during the party right? I mean, it’s a given that you will watch the movie at some point. SO, what better idea than to provide cutely-themed popcorn? movie time - frozen entertainment After movie-watching either ends or loses it’s luster with 3-5 yr. old attention spans, its also nice to have some other potential entertainments. I drew/cut out a large Olaf-shaped snowman for a game of Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Snowman. no nose olaf Olaf also made for a nice decorative touch, chilling on the wall (yes, pun intended). It also turns out that my adorable niece loved the decor far more than the game, because she took one look at the wall, gasped, turned to me, and asked very seriously: “I . . . I marry him?” warm hugs - can I marry him While she is a bit young to get married, in my humble opinion, Olaf definitely fulfilled his quota on “warm hugs” for the day.  One other small activity we chose to include was a mini salon (staffed by yours truly) where all of my frozen-colored nail-polish could be displayed for the kiddos selection and subsequent nail-painting. This was fun, and the many small individuals in attendance loved it!nails by elsa

Question #4: What little treats will  enhance the day?

Well, there are certainly many of these ideas floating around to choose from.

It’s a great chance to check out printables available online (many for free!) that can add to the cute-factor. The Melted Snowman labels for water bottles was a nice touch, and as you can see, there are small olaf-stickers on the chocolate kisses! It’s also a great chance to tap into any stores of crystal or milk glass flatware and princess-costumery you have lying around.

Food Decor - setup and cuteness

Another fun detail that my sister pulled off beautifully was the sparkly gift-bags for kiddos who attended the party. These were full of everything from sweet treats to coloring books to tiaras to the little blue wands that you can see peeking out from the tops of the perfectly-chosen glittery gift bags!favors - frozen party

 

And that, friends, is all-questions-answered how we celebrated my niece’s 4th birthday . . .

Frozen Style!

Delta Rae is My Musical True Love

Delta Rae - the Name in Lights Allow me to introduce you to my absolute favorite band, Delta Rae. Now, as soon as I say favorite, I feel guilty, because there are lots of bands that I love quite dearly who compete for the lead, but I think that, after seeing them perform live,  Delta Rae has moved up to first place. Delta Rae is, hands down, the best group of performers I have ever had the privilege to view live. The amount of talent, passion, energy, and no-holds-barred musical enthusiasm that is embodied in their work left me speechless. I really really liked their music before going to their show. . . now I am obsessed! Delta Rae Magnificence

What kind of music do they play?

They’re generally referred to as “American Folk Rock“. Interpret that as you will.

Who are they?

There are 6 band members in Delta Rae: Ian, Eric, Brittany, Liz, Mike, and Grant. Three of them are siblings (Ian, Eric, and Brittany Holljes) – WHICH IS JUST RIDICULOUS. I mean, one family should not be allowed to have that much talent. EVERYBODY in the band does some percussion work, but Ian Holljes  plays guitar and does vocals.  Eric Holljes also does vocals, plays the guitar, piano and keys. Brittany Holljes does insane vocals , as does Elizabeth Hopkins. Mike McKee does percussion, and Grant Emerson plays one awesome-looking-and-sounding bass guitar. With their powers combined, they make musical beauty.

Brilliance of Delta Rae

What makes them so awesome?

There are a lot of ways to answer this question, most of which could come from more qualified individuals – so I’ll just share one of my personal reasons. One of the major elements that makes Delta Rae stand out to me (as something of a vocalist) is how complex and diverse their vocals are. It’s rare to have that many strong lead vocalists in one band, and they don’t just pull it off – they kill it.

What should I listen to first if I’m new to Delta Rae?

I humbly recommend this sampling:

 

If you live in the greater Boston Area (or in reasonable driving distance), you can go to their show this Friday (June 20th!) as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series! I’ll be there!!!