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

mascots

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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.

corn heads?

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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

censored box

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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

fighting artichokes

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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

webstur

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Whoo RU the Owl Mascot of Rowan University Athletics

owl

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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!

moma

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. 

stars

starry

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!

 

 

 

 

Color-by-Conjugation

Let’s face it . . . conjugating verbs is nobody’s first choice activity.

One of my students lets me know exactly how he feels about conjugation, choosing the verb "vomir" (to vomit) every time I give the class the option of selecting their own verb for a conjugation . . .

One of my students lets me know exactly how he feels about conjugation, choosing the verb “vomir” (to vomit) every time I give the class the option of selecting their own verb for a conjugation . . .

As a French teacher, I am always trying to think of new ways to get my students more familiar with verb conjugations. The traditional worksheet tends to be less-than-scintillating, and at this time of the year I find that students have a low threshold of tolerance for tedious activities of any kind. SO, inspired by the traditional concept of color-by-number art . . . and by the awesomeness of conjugart (which blends conjugation and art quite impressively!), I have made a present-tense review color-by-conjugation worksheet. It covers regular ER and IR verbs, as well as the verbs I like to call the “fab four” (être, avoir, aller, and faire – four insanely useful and common, yet highly irregular, French verbs). If it looks useful, I’m including the two links to download it below (one is for the key/cover page, and the other is for the coloring page!)

thumbnail - color by conjugation - free download

 

Instructions Page – Color Conjugations

French Present Tense Color by Conjugations

Because who doesn’t like coloring???

The New York Sun[Shine!]

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Some of you may have read or seen the somewhat-recently popularized newsstory of young Virginia O’Hanlon. There’s a movie and book that came out not too long ago documenting the story in an endearingly artistic way. As I’ve mentioned before, the 2009 movie Yes, Virginia is the story of a young girl questioning the existence of Santa Claus. As a pragmatic young lady, Virginia wrote a letter to the New York Sun and the ensuing response has been a legacy for Christmas ever since. Check it out! This is a copy of what has, apparently, become the most re-printed newspaper article of all time.

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What I really like about the story of young 8-year-old Virginia is the idea that, by simply setting a few lines of type for an editorial, Francis P. (Pharcellus!) Church, the journalist who wrote the response, shared a brightness and positivity that I wish there was more of in the media today.

I stumbled upon a blogpost recently from a site called The Dignified Devil and I loved the way the author, Gregory Smith, describes Francis Church’s response to Virginia. “His example stands against the cynicism of every era, a caution against the magnetic pull of strict logic and constant serious-mindedness . . .”

If you hadn’t heard this story, I hope you find it as sweet and heartening as I did. Although I never believed in Santa as a kid (or as an adult, for that matter!), there is something beautiful in an established Army journalist and serious newspaper editor taking time and ink to perpetuate the magic and beauty that is so often lost as childhood becomes adulthood. Remember that “The most real things in the world that neither children nor men can see . . . Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

That is a truth I celebrate wholeheartedly this season.