Life is weird. Welcome to Moments of Pause, a weekly catalogue of whatever’s been needling you: a list of all the things so odd/pertinent/funny/serious/catchy/confusing that you just had to set down your gardening shears and strike a pose reminiscent of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies vid (leotard included). For our 3rd edition, here is a collage of the very important things that stuck in a handful of our contributors’ brains this past week, those shiver-inducing gag-reflexive oh-so-edifying moments of pause that define life (OR IS IT) in the 21st Century.
1. A Rose By Any Other Name… — Rukma Sen
Narendra Damordas Modi, prime minister of the world’s largest dubious democracy, welcomed POTUS in New Delhi on 26th January. He wore a suit embroidered with his own name a thousand times in tiny letters made to look like pinstripes. Megalomania? Fashion Choice? Implicit “Mine is bigger” to the Leader of the Free World? A quick guide to spelling his name? A rumination on the impossibility of naming essence? A monument to the endless tedium of linguistic expression? You (you, you, you, you) decide.
2. Tara Reid’s Memoir Got Rave Reviews — Bojan Srb, Performance Editor
Celebrities coming out with books left and right has me feeling a particular type of way. I find it hard to believe that, between starring in Hedwig on Broadway, filming Gone Girl, and having a highly-publicized spectacle of a wedding in Italy, Neil Patrick Harris found the time to sit down and write his autobiography. I should say, I’ve never actually read it, so it might just be pure shit, but something tells me we’re looking at a very loose definition of writing. Like hella loose.
3. We Missy You — Baguette Editor, Lawrence Neil
I paused, for a moment, when I found out that others had moments of pause at Missy’s show-stealing cameo during last Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show. It turns out that the whole world hadn’t continued to listen to Missy Elliott during the 43 year-old’s (FORTY THREE!??! when the FUCK did that happen?) relatively low profile over the past ten years. She has apparently seen 1000% increases in streams and downloads and followers and other relevant new media statistics, which is fantastic, but this gets me worried: has everyone actually stopped listening to the glut of excellent late-90s/early 00s hip-hop and R&B? Why? Why why why why why? Can we do a ‘Reminder: This Music is Still Dope’ Reunion Show? Is Frost available?
4. Title: CS106A Assignment #4: “Breakout”— Nikki Tran
(Editor’s Warning: This is some nasty shit)
“Breakout,” the current assignment for Stanny’s rite-of-passage programming class, earns its name for the way players can cleverly clear a path to the upper level and get rid of bricks without using the paddle. However, a more accurate etymology for this glorified version of arcade ping pong would be its responsibility in triggering my own breakouts – backne and all. Until now, I thought I had blossomed into a sun-kissed California girl, but the zit parade from my Myspace days has returned with a vengeance. Even Neutrogena can’t help me now. What’s a girl to do? Watch some of the greatest hits in the pimple popping industry (and this and this) and kiss those suckers goodbye. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade – so you better give a good squeeze.
5. John Oliver & Journalism That Laughs With You Too — Alejandra Salazar
I won’t assert that the future of journalism rests in the hands of a gangly, plaid-sporting, 37-year-old Brit with a goofy grin (I mean, we can’t very well forget about Jon Stewart, right?), but there’s a special place in my heart for people like John Oliver who can make me laugh with the intent of teaching me a little something about the world. Oliver’s Last Week Tonight–which comes back tonight, no big deal, it’s not like I’ve been eagerly anticipating it for last two months or anything–is close to mastering this balance, eliciting just the right amount of laughs and earnestness to actually affect the world outside of its late-night bubble. Add a bit of irony, a dash of irreverence and the self-awareness necessary to laugh at yourself? This is political satire at its finest and goddamn, John Oliver, you’ve won me over.
6. Hey Foxy Lady — Katharine Schwab, EiC
This Fox News segment would have been at home on the Colbert Report. Where have all the real men gone? Because of course empowering women means disempowering men.
Shocking, truly shocking.
7. Swimming with the Dolphins is No Longer Family Friendly— Eric Eich, Visual Arts Editor and Resident Internet Pervert
The weirdest thing is that dolphin romance such as this is, well, old news. John C. Lilly tapped that niche way back in the 70’s, when he was bent of proving that dolphins could be taught to communicate with humans. The venerable doctor had the brilliant idea of including LSD in his studies, and what do you know, two hours into a trip, that weird high-pitched squeaking does indeed begin to sound familiar…..perhaps like the lyrics to T-Swift’s latest single…..?!?
8. To Do or Not to Do a Poo — Brittany Newell, Culture Editor and Future Diplomat
Learning about another culture is always an eye-opening and humbling affair. Of the many deeply elucidating moments of pause that I encountered when studying abroad, the one that continues to be relevant is how unbearably hilarious it is when my British friends say they need to do a poo.
To do—not a P-set, not a duty, but a poo.
Not poop, but poo.
I would stare at them with watering eyes whenever they called someone cheeky, NON IRONICALLY, or inquired after the state of one’s willy. I owe many hours of stifled laughter to the word wee (as in, “Blimey, is that your cheeky grandmammy having a wee in the upstairs loo? She’s a right tart, she is!”) “Schweinefleisch” is the German word for pork–HOW CAN ONE NOT PAUSE AT THAT? Whenever our French friends peppered their sentences with the Americanism “betch,” or, better yet, “oui betch,” I waited for them to crack a smile over the tops of their turtlenecks–but they never did.
What I’m really getting at is how impossible it is to fully explain to somebody from another culture how funny certain phrases are, how strangely they hit the virgin ear. What sounds normal to one person, like, say, “kartoffelkellar” (literally, A POTATO CELLAR), is cripplingly cute to me.
“TAKE a shit?” my British friends countered. “HIT me up, DUUUDE? Yankee-doodle dingleberry can you dig it HOMEDOG?” At least, that’s what I think they said; those darling accents obscure all.
Illustration: At Dinner with my Dad — Alex Bayer, StAR Artist in Residence