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 vodka tonic, mute Sex and the City, and gag on an anchovy in the process (happy V-day). For our 4th 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. Perhaps it was Kim Possible — Elisabeth Dee
Who first bred the hairless cat? Who was the first person that thought “wow this a nice looking’ feline, but it would be so much more aesthetically pleasing if it had absolutely no hair whatsoever and its raisiny blush skin was exposed the elements?” Who first wanted a large naked mole rat? The world may never know.
This being said, I kinda want one to drape around my neck when creepy people knock on my door.
2. It’s A Sport on the Internet About a Sport on TV — John Murray
“Last Man” is a yearly competition to try and be the last person in America to know who won the Super Bowl. It runs on an honor code system (those still exist?), with competitors using Twitter to self-report their “deaths,” aka how they eventually found out about the game. This past year featured deaths via jewelry-store junk mail, Rob Lowe meme, and “half naked fan of the winning team on my Facebook timeline.” Everyone was pretty much dead within three days of the game. Just another fun, harmless, and mildly entertaining reminder that you can never really escape the mass-media saturated, overly-connected digital castle that is our contemporary culture. You can run, and you may hide, BUT THE SPORTS WILL FIND YOU. Patriots 28, Seahawks 24.
(Editor’s Note: I didn’t know who won until I read this post–damn you John Murray)
3. I’m A Real Girl: Cindy and Female Beauty — Nikki Tran
When 48-year-old supermodel Cindy Crawford’s un-retouched photo went viral this past weekend, the Internet almost ruptured an aneurysm over her “bravery” for showing the world (wide web) what a “real woman” looks like. Tell me, kale-juice-guzzling, Lululemon-clad, closeted Us Weekly readers, what is so #inspirational about a so-called body acceptance role model who profits from a legacy that privileges tall, thin, white women? (Excuse the pseudo-intellectual jargon, but pretentiousness is so often mistaken for progressiveness nowadays that I might as well join the bandwagon.) Ultimately, this recent cyberspace frenzy is just a reiteration of the “real women” brand of beauty that shakes its pom-poms for one type of female ideal by excluding another. Whichever team you’re on, the phrase “real women” implies that there are absolutes that define womanhood. Being thin, having curves, and what’s between your legs do not a woman make. Case and point, ladies: you are rah-rah real! Throw some flaxseeds in the air like you just don’t care – because you really don’t. It’s everyone else who needs a good pinching.
4. Ya Feel, Brah? — Jake Friedler
Masculinity has such a bad rap these days that even frat bros have taken to performing it with a touch of irony, so that attributions of manliness are met with chuckles and cheers, but cheers nonetheless. We throw a douchey accent at the “bro” at the end of our sentences, because we’re aware that we are bros and douchebags, and frequently refer to each other as “dude” or “man” as if these identity markers need constant re-enforcement because they’re fundamentally unstable and don’t actually correspond to essential scientific facts of our being… but like, whatever dude, I’m just tryna play some snappa.
5. Tweet for Tat — Katharine Schwab, EiC
In 2013, 30-year-old Justine Sacco was on her way to visit family in South Africa when she tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
She boarded her flight. By the time she landed, she was the top worldwide trend on Twitter. The Twitterverse was shocked at her racist and ignorant comment, and demanded that she be fired from her job as a publicist (which she was).
In an article in New York Times Magazine, Jon Ronson writes, “After thinking about her tweet for a few seconds more, I began to suspect that it wasn’t racist but a reflexive critique of white privilege — on our tendency to naïvely imagine ourselves immune from life’s horrors.”
It’s worth a pause — the Internet takes collective shaming to a new level; all of a sudden, your life could be different because of a misinterpreted joke or a single bad judgment. Did Justine Sacco deserve to lose her job? Maybe, maybe not.
Either way, a modern adage: think before you tweet.
6. Bing Hall & Bureacracy — Lora Kelley
Wait so is Bing Concert Hall a private business or an arm of an educational institution? Unclear. On Sunday, I tried to attend a free Haydn concert that several students performed in. I was late. I was aggressively turned away. Half of the seats were empty, but after talking to a manager and her manager, I was condescendingly instructed to watch the concert on a screen in the lobby and get my shit together earlier next time. They wouldn’t let me enter at intermission. The box office was closed, I was told, even though on the Bing website they explicitly claim that unused tickets can be re-released after the curtain time. And tickets were free. FREE!
Like, yes, it was my bad for running late. But why not let this student enjoy some Sunday afternoon orchestral music on this arts-parched campus? As an arm of a university, particularly one trying so hard to re-vamp its arts reputation in the public eye, Bing should prioritize student engagement. We can’t perform there unless we dish out thousands, we can’t go to concerts…like I guess it would be cool if Bing just wanted to do its own thing and kind of chill on our campus. But it is problematic to me that Stanford brags about this resource but is only interested in the $$$ it brings in from the wealthy locals. I’ve heard Bing Concert Hall referred to as an ugly deflated flan of a concert space. I will not confirm or deny.
7. Tap Dat Frappe — Bojan Srb, Performance Editor
If Carl Sagan was a Theta, he’d confirm what I’ve been suspecting all along: the Starbucks at Tressider is the primordial soup from which so much of Stanford’s social life arises like a mass of slimy, vodka-soaked goop stuffed with, among other things, the glorification of Busy, the curse of non-commitment, and the word “interesting.”
Does a girl really gotta have her half-caf caramel mocha frappuccino with three and a half pumps of vanilla and a squirt of sugar-free sweetener? The ritual of “I’m gonna Starbucks” says there’s so much more to this. People go there hoping to run into whoever they have the hots for but can’t pick up the courage to ask out; or whoever they once schmingled with that they hope will notice them looking effortlessly cute, or whoever else they’re trying to impress by silently humblebragging about the number of people they can wave hello to in the middle of a conversation.
All this mocha-mingling happens to the unironically blasted tune of Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Oh my god, the girl next to me is singing along.
8. Stanford’s Drooling Class — Eric Eich, Visual Arts Editor and Resident Internet Pervert
I get it. To drool is human. We’ve all got spit. But I think professors have a special brand of it, as if all those years of reading and writing had sharpened not only their brains but also their burble: IDK what the problem here is, but in the midst of a heated lecture, or even in the calm of office hours, I can’t help but stare (and, on bolder days, internally chuckle) as my mentors literally foam at the mouth, not from rabies but from overstimulation. Drink more water, guys.
9. Our Lord and Tater — Brittany Newell, Culture Editor
Veggie Tales: if Rachel Ray and South Park had a natural birth in the wilds of Redding, California.
I managed to spend my entire childhood without realizing that the charming vegetarian gigglefests I made a beeline for in Blockbuster were secretly, or not so secretly, Christian propaganda. Not the fiber-induced imaginings of some liberal California mom who wants her children to say no-no to Oreos and hi-hello to….vaguely phallic eggplants. Not the origin story of a fruitarian cult that fundraises for its nighttime rituals (the slaughter of hard-boiled eggs, BECAUSE THEY ARE ANIMALS TOO) by selling beet husk anklets at the farmer’s market. No. Nothing so innocuous. IT WAS CREATED BY THE CHURCH, that mecca of free snacks and a gluteny, though sinewy, Christ.
Except their plan backfired. I don’t remember why David had the hots for Goliath nor do I remember Jesus’ exact relationship to carpentry, but god dammit buy me a drink (or just refill my water bottle) and I can sing, word for word, the Veggie Tales theme song. That’s all that remains of a Northern Californian childhood: the memory of sultry asparaguses making the sign of the cross, and a tremulous (some might say, God-fearing) reverence for the sprouts on potatoes–oh spudly, He works in mysterious ways.