Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 10 Moments in Beauty Pageant Failure

(photo @ break.com)

Bring up the subject of beauty pageants to a large group of people, and you're bound to get at least two harshly contrasting opinions. Many folks see them as great opportunities for young women to earn scholarship money, make connections, and develop confidence.  Others see them as exercises in hollow vanity that can cause a great deal of emotional and psychological damage.

Or maybe you just don't care...but whatever your opinion of beauty pageants is, there is no denying that a key component to winning one is poise. A girl can be the most beautiful woman to be placed on this earth since Helen of Troy, but if she can't put one front in front of the other and form complete sentences, there is no way that she is going home with the crown (she'll be the third runner up, tops).

That's why women that enter a contest circuit that prides itself on image and promptly crap all over it are so entertaining to watch...and why we have created this list for you enjoy.

We tried to stay away from the usual "OH LOOK, SHE FELL DOWN!! HURR DURR DURR!" bloopers (although one was too good not to leave in) because even the most poised and confident among us can fall down while wearing 6 inch heels. Instead, this list will tend to focus on talent portions that never should have been tried and questions that should have easily been answered.

So without further ado, let's hop across the pond for our first entry...

10. Irish Hip Hop Dancing

During a 2011 beauty pageant in Ireland, contestant Siobheal Nic Eochaidh decided to show off her white girl dance moves to beats of LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe the performance (or the looks on her fellow contestants' faces).

Most Surreal Moment

The Dublin Rose's blatant crotch grab at 0:31 most likely didn't win her any bonus points with the judges. The pop and lock, however, was pretty well done.

9. Girl Power Outage

The contestant in this video had a fairly easy question about what the world would be like if it was run by women. After initially trying to blame her lack of speaking skills on the microphone, she recklessly tosses nouns, verbs, and adverbs together into a cringe inducing soliloquy that nearly sets women's rights back a century.

Most Surreal Moment
At 0:47, even the pageant host can't hide his disappointment.

8. Marimba Lady

Hailing from my home state of South Carolina, Carrie Lee Davis was probably a pretty good percussionist in high school...but those skills did not serve her well in the 1992 Miss America Pageant.  

From her lack of a consistent tempo to the plethora of wrong notes, it's hard to imagine how someone who obviously has some knowledge of how to play their instrument could do it so poorly...and think wearing those massive shoulder pads past 1985 was a good idea.

Most Surreal Moment
At approximately 2:00, Ms. Davis throws aside all pretenses of maintaining time and rhythm and begins mercilessly banging her rubber mallets against the helpless marimba.

7. Family Optional

After confidently telling the pageant host that she did not feel any pressure, Janina San Miguel drew a softball question about how big of a role her family played in her life. She then proceeded to stammer about her age, lack of pageant experience, and repeated/drawn out declarations of the word "family."

Most Surreal Moment
Just when you begin to feel some sympathy for Janina, at 1:19 she lets forth a soul piercing cackle that cannot be over looked or forgiven...unless you were one of the judges.  Janina won the competition.

6. Deer in Headlights and Heels

This contestant in the Miss Ivory Coast 2012 pageant had clearly never walked in these heels before that evening...or had been downing shots backstage prior to the swimwear portion of the competition.

Most Surreal Moment
The way all the other contestants just keep dancing while the poor girl continued to fall to the ground.

5. Confucius Confusion

When 2009 Miss Panama contestant Giosue Cozzarelli was asked to interpret a quote by the great philosopher Confucius, she gave a bewildering (and somewhat racist) response.

Most Surreal Moment
One of the many reasons that I would not be a good beauty pageant judge: When Giosue said that Confucius was one the people that "invented confusion," I would have given her the benefit of the doubt and assumed she was making some type of meta joke/philosophical statement.

4. Learning About Fear

When Jeannie Anderson steps forward to answer a question from the judges (and the host's creepy sounding observation about her height), her perpetual deer in headlights look lets you know that things are not going to go well.

Unfortunately for Jeannie, her nervousness was compounded by the fact that she was asked an incredibly stupid question. I mean, seriously...who asks a question for which the "right" answer is "not to be beautiful" at a beauty pageant?  Sadistic and jealous ex-beauty pageant queens, that's who.

Most Surreal Moment
I may not have been a judge, but Jeannie definitely would have won some points with me when she told the audience to shut up at 1:35.

3. Bikini Beat Down

Things get very real when contestants brawl at a Brazilian beauty pageant. My Portuguese isn't very good, but that blonde girl seems like a bit of a bully. I'm still not really sure what is going on, so I may have to watch this one a few more times...for science.

Most Surreal Moment
The blonde bully starts dancing at 0:28, only to inexplicably open up a can of whoopass seconds later on an unsuspecting girl standing to her right.

2. Helping U.S. Americans

Once again hailing from my home state of South Carolina, Caitlin Upton is asked a question about Americans not being able to locate the United States on a map. This line of questioning causes her to lose the ability to locate and verbalize coherent thoughts.

Most Surreal Moment
Look, we've all said things that made absolutely no sense when we got flustered...but where the heck did she pull South Africa and Iraq from?

1. Star Wars Trumpet

For those of you that have never seen this before, I truly apologize for what you just had to endure. According to this interview, Stacy Hedger had no idea that she sounded badly...which makes me wonder what type of horrible friends and family she must have. 

Why didn't someone tell her how horrible she sounded? This was a state-wide beauty pageant and she became "Miss Douglas County" with another (and probably much better) routine. Did they just try to stifle their laughter while telling poor Stacy "Oh no, go with the trumpet solo...but make sure that during the Cantina Band break that you shuffle around the stage like a brain damaged penguin."

Most Surreal Moment
Just when your ears can't take anymore, Stacy mercifully stops at 1:33 to do her dance routine...but by 1:42, you've fully come to the realization that things can get much, much worse.


And that's all folks. If any of you have terrible beauty pageant videos laying around (which would make you kind of creepy if you're a guy) and think that I missed something, let me know. We may do a follow up list once I've psychologically recovered from gathering material for this list.  

Feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how much I suck more personally, you can also find me on twitter.  Until next time... 

May the Force be with you!

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, a beauty pageant contestant learns how to play the trumpet.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weird Crime Wednesday: Anti-Semitic Elmo

Update: Anti Semitic Elmo has been identified and interviewed (see below)

For some time now, New York's Central Park has been terrorized by a mentally unbalanced adult male dressed in an Elmo suit. He is belligerent, incredibly racist, and also claims to work for John Gotti.  He also seamlessly alternates between racist diatribes, cursing at people, and posing for pictures with children.

In case you don't believe me (and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't), embedded below is a very NSFW video of the Evil Elmo. It begins with him yelling at a man about his mafia connections, repeatedly dropping the f-bomb, and terrifying a nearby child.  

He is then confronted by a man in a tuxedo jacket with hearts on it....and for some reason, you almost feel bad for Elmo. It's hard watching the adorable Sesame Street character get yelled at, even if he deserved it. 

Afterwards, things become even more surreal when he takes a picture with a little girl.

So maybe Elmo has some anger issues. But just when you think he may have some good in him, another video of Elmo emerges. This one features him going on a racist rant about his belief that he is harassed by Jewish cops...and that Jewish people won't allow anyone else to start a business in the city.

He also encourages people to read The International Jew, a series of anti-Semitic pamphlets that were published in the 1920's.  Despite the lack of foul language in the video embedded below, the aggressive and vile racism spewing forth from Elmo's smiling face makes it even more disturbing.

He's also wearing knee pads for some reason...

On Sunday, June 24 of 2012, the New York PD hauled Evil Elmo away for a psychiatric evaluation. Why it took this long to figure out that this guy was mentally disturbed is a bit troubling. He has been doing this for quite a while and has also been known to harass tourists in Times Square.

Other people who dress up like Elmo around New York (seriously...multiple people do this) were glad to see their hateful counterpart taken off the streets. The New York Times interviewed a Peruvian Elmo impersonator named Luis, who claimed that the Evil Elmo did not share their red and fuzzy brotherhood.

“He would stop and say that we were all illegal immigrants and that people shouldn’t have their photos taken with us,” Luis lamented. (Hopefully someone later tickled Luis so that he could giggle and feel a bit better).

Sesame Street is also not pleased with Evil Elmo's antics. In a statement made to the New York Times, they declared: 
"The 'Sesame Street' Muppets are known the world over, and we do not condone unauthorized representations of our characters." 

Elmo is, however, completely authorized to look totally hot.

The identity of Evil Elmo has not been released due to him not actually being arrested (he was taken in for a medical evaluation).  He is currently under observation at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Even though he wasn't arrested, his encounter with police and the bizarre nature of his actions made this one too crazy not to include as a Weird Crime Wednesday entry. And besides, shouting anti-Semitic rants and threatening random park goers while wearing the costume of a beloved children's character may not be an actionable offense, but it's still a crime against humanity.

At least now the infamous 'Who Wants to Die' or 'Kill James' Elmos can know that they are no longer the most horrifying uses of a Sesame Street character to date.

                                                                                     Original photo @ Sara Krulwich/The New York Times 
...and men in Elmo suits can go back to scaring kids just because they don't look right.

Update June 28, 2012

Despite being asked by police not to reenter the park, Anti-Semitic Elmo was back at work on Tuesday, posing for pictures and going on anti-Semitic rants. Michael Wilson of the New York Times drew the short straw and did an interview the fuzzy lunatic. A few of the highlights:

  • He legally changed his name from Dan Sandler to Adam Sandler (the Times respected his request not to publish his original name, but I don't take requests from racist people in Elmo costumes seriously).
  • Despite this incredibly stupid decision, he is educated, holding a bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon; Go Ducks!
  • He ran a porn site in Cambodia called "Welcome to Rape Camp." A paper documenting Mr. Sandler's depraved website was published by professor Donna M. Hughes at the University of Rhode Island. He refers to it simply as a "sex scandal."
  • After being deported from Cambodia (DEPORTED from CAMBODIA), he went to work for the New York office of the Girl Scouts of America (!).
  • He can sometimes make $200 in one day off the tips he receives for taking pictures with children.

In addition to all that terrifying and disturbing information, the New York Times includes a soul crushing photograph of Mr. Sandler with part of his Elmo costume off.

I know I made joke earlier about the unnecessary knee pads he wears, but now I know that they can serve a very important purpose: For parents to identify and avoid the Elmo character that hates Jewish people and had a rape themed porn site.

Another video also turned up of him outside the Times Square Toys 'R Us. This time, Evil Elmo is screaming at people not to buy Leap Frog brand toys and spewing his usual hate speech (albeit a bit more aggressively).

...and I think that's just about enough internet for today. 

Feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or proclaim how much I suck personally, you can find me on twitter.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Freaky (Factual) Tale Friday: The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Soviet Russia, 1959

In January of 1959, 10 hikers (eight men and two women) decided to embark on a trek across the northern Ural Mountains. Nearly all of them were students or recent graduates of Russia's Ural State Technical University (which at the time was known as the Ural Polytechnic Institute). 

Thanks to ermaktravel.com, we are able to put some faces and background with each member of the group. The expedition consisted of:

 Igor Dyatlov, the group's leader and a talented engineer.

Zinaida Kolmogorova, engineering student and experienced hiker

Ludmila Dubinina, the group's unofficial photographer

Alexander Kolevatov, a brilliant physics 
student and the group's unofficial second in command.

Rustem Slobodin, skilled athlete and experienced hiker

Yuri Krivonischenko, engineer that 
had worked on cleaning up the Kyshytm Disaster

Yuri Doroshenko, ex-boyfriend of Zinaida and 
possible Abercrombie & Fitch model lost in time.

Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolles, engineer whose father had been executed by Stalin

 Alexander Zolotariov, who was somewhat 
of a mystery due to how much he moved around during his short life time.

Yuri Yudin, experienced hiker (and later blessed with some amazing luck)

Their goal was to use the challenging journey as a training exercise for future expeditions into even more treacherous Arctic regions. On January 25, the group took a train into the city of Ivdel, then traveled by truck to Vizhai.

Vizhai was the last inhabited settlement that the group would be able to stay at before they made their way towards their desired destination, the Otorten mountain range.

On January 27, they began their trek. One day into the journey, Yuri Yudin fell ill and had to return to Vizhai. As the group marched on, Yuri had no idea that it would be the last time that he saw his friends alive.

February 20

Dyatlov had told Yuri that even though their expected date of return was February 12, weather conditions would probably delay them a bit.  But by February 20, the hikers' families and friends had demanded that a search to be initiated.  After initially beginning as a small operation, the rescue mission eventually involved army and police teams with full air support.

On February 26, one of the search teams found the expedition's abandoned camp. Their tent had been cut open from the inside and 8-9 sets of footprints were visible for 500 meters heading towards the edge of the woods.  Under a tall cedar were the remains of a campfire...along with the bodies of Yuri Krivonischenko and Yuri Doroshenko.  Both were shoeless and dressed only in their underwear.

The corpses of  Igor Dyatlov, Zinaida Kolmogorova, and Rustem Slobodin were recovered various distances between the cedar tree and the campsite. Their poses suggested that they were attempting to return to the campsite.

May 4

After more than 2 months of searching, the bodies of the remaining four members of the expedition were discovered. Unfortunately, this finding would not bring any closure, but instead unlock a series of disturbing and seemingly unanswerable questions.
The last four recovered bodies from the expedition were much better dressed than the others; some of them were actually wearing clothes (or using the clothes to dress wounds) from the expedition members that had been found earlier.  

Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolles was found to have a massive skull fracture, while the chests of Ludmila Dubinina and Alexander Zolotariov had been crushed inward, shattering their ribs and destroying their internal organs.

According to Doctor Boris Vozrozhdenny, who examined the bodies, the force required to do the type of damage he observed would have had to have been "equal to the effect of a car crash."  Making things supremely bizarre was that even though the bodies showed internal damage consistent with exteme blunt force trauma, there was no soft tissue damage or external wounds at all.
As if all of that wasn't morbid enough, it's also worth mentioning that Dubinina was missing her tongue.

To make matters even more confusing/disturbing, all but three members of the ill-fated expedition had incredibly high levels of radiation on their clothes and corpses. Eye witness reports from five of the hiker's funerals claim that the bodies were discolored to a "deep brown tan." and orange. 

There was also another issue complicating the investigation: Another hiking groupe reported seeing "orange spheres" in sky near where the hikers had met their fate.   

Soviet investigators were stumped (or not talking) and decided to officially close the case...by making a statement that would only cause people to want to know more.  They concluded that the hikers had come in contact with a "compelling unknown force."  After this declaration, the files were sealed and archived.

The case's lead investigator, Lev Invanov, was told to classify all documents pertaining to the case as top secret. If the Soviet government did know what happened, they had no intention of letting the general public know what the "compelling unknown force" was.

So what happened?

On October 20, 2008, Cracked.com included the Dyatlov Pass incident on their list article entitled 6 Famous Unsolved Mysteries (With Really Obvious Explanations) by Jake Slocum.

No offense to one of my favorite websites/sometimes employer Cracked.com (which you can probably tell by my article formattting) or Mr. Slocum, but they got this one dead wrong with regards to the explanation being "obvious."

Let's first take care of the Cracked article's claims that make sense:

What Cracked Got Right

-The fact that Dubinina's tongue was gone can easily be attributed to scavenging animals. The bodies were found long after the expedition crew had all died. Soft tissue (like a tongue) is going to be the first thing an animal goes for.

-The fact that some of them were found undressed can easily be explained by a phenomenon know as paradoxical undressing. Many moderate to severe hypothermia victims have been observed or recorded taking off their clothes as they become more and more disoriented.

What Cracked Got Wrong

-Slocum claims that the tan discoloration of the bodies was due to the corpses "laying out in the sun surrounded by white snow for days."  What Slocum doesn't seem to realize is that the pigments in your skin would also stop working upon death, making a tan/orange discoloration nearly impossible.  Tanning could possibly occur for a very short time as a corpse's metabolism winds down, but not to the severe degree that was seen with the hikers.

-Slocum contends that the "orange spheres" were never mentioned in the official documents...which means that the official explanation of them being top secret launches/testing of R-7 intercontinental missiles wasn't really needed.

-Slocum also contends that the reports of high radiation levels were not part of the official report. This contradicts the lead investigator's account and the accounts of those that have actually seen the documents, which began getting (partially) released in 1990.

-Slocum's article also fails to address the lack of soft tissue damage associated with the enormous and fatally crushing force experienced by three of the hikers.

-If their deaths were caused by an avalanche, why were most of the hikers able to travel away from the campsite on foot for more than a kilometer? 

So...once again, what happened?

We can be fairly certain that the "orange spheres" were missiles and that the hikers' disrobing was a symptom of hypothermia.  We can also probably assume that Ms. Dubinina's tongue was made into a winter snack for some type of varmint.

What we still don't know is how a force that was equal to a car crash could crush two people's ribs and internal organs without causing any soft tissue damage. 

We also have yet to figure out what caused the high levels of radiation found on most of the expedition.  One theory is that Yuri Krivonischenko's clothes still had radiation on them from his work at Kyshytm, but it is highly unlikely that he kept and wore his clothes from the time he worked at a radioactive accident site.

There are also people that try to make something out of the photograph shown below (which was taken from the camera found with the group), but it most likely is just a blurred and accidentally taken picture.

...or Cthulu is just terribly unphotogenic.

ErmakTravel.com has compiled an impressive collection of photographs taken by the expedition and photographs of the their bodies taken by the rescue team. Unfortunately none of them shed any light on what exactly happened to the group of  hikers led by Igor Dyatlov (for whom Dyatlov Pass was named).

For now, the mystery of  what happened remains classified and/or buried or still lurking in the Ural Mountains.


A last shot of the happy group before they met their unexplained demise.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how much I suck more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, another group of hikers is saved from a "compelling unknown force"...or a yeti.