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It has been a long time since we had a post about mascots, which is a real shame, since they tend to be the weirdest posts on Ferrebeekeeper (which is saying something since this is a blog about dark gods, strange art, exotic mollusks, and brain vivisection). Therefore today we highlight space-themed mascots—symbolic beings/objects which represent a group or entity by means of anthropomorphized celestial bodies (or other zany astronomical concepts). I am pleased by all of the stars and suns but somehow I wanted something more celestial and mysterious. Also why are so many of them yellow?
We mentioned the troubles Ole Miss was having phasing out their previous mascot in favor of something less divisive. Here is Star War’s own Admiral Ackbar filling in that role.
Hmm, I’m not sure whether that has furthered my dearly-held and oft’ stated goal to prod humankind back towards the exploration of outer space, but you never know what will work best with different people and, at least we saw some really strange mascots.
A previous Ferrebeekeeper post described the largest living bivalve mollusk–the magnificent giant clam which is indigenous to the South Pacific. However there are other large bivalve mollusks out there which are nearly as remarkable (and possibly even stranger looking). One of these creatures, the geoduck clam (Panopea generosa), causes a unique amount of controversy, pride, consternation, and outright greed along the Northwest coast of North America where it lives
Geoducks are the largest burrowing clams in the world. Specimens weighing up to three pounds (0.5–1.5 kg) are widely known and 15 kilogram monsters are alleged to exist. Although the clams’ shells can grow quite large–sometimes exceeding 20 cm (8 inches) in length–the outstanding features of geoducks are their obscene siphons/necks which regularly reach 1 metre (3.3 ft) long (and can reputedly grow to twice that length). Thanks to these long necks, geoducks can bury themselves deep in the coastal sands while still filtering huge amounts of plankton rich water through their digestive system. . Geoduck (which is apparently pronounced “gooey duck”) is a word from the Lushootseed language, a tongue spoken by the Nisqually tribe. It means “dig deep” although the Chinese name for the clams “xiàngbábàng” (which means “elephant-trunk clams”) seems equally apt.
Geoducks of Wasshington and British Colombia do not have many natural enemies (although apparently in Alaskan waters they are preyed on by sea otters and dogfish). If left undisturbed, the bivalves can live to the fabulous age of a century-and-a-half. Lately however, the geoducks, which dwell in giant cold-water colonies beneath Puget Sound, are being gobbled up en masse by humankind. Although Anglo-Saxon settlers to the Pacific Northwest found the suggestive sight of the clams to be unbearable, the mollusks are hugely popular in China and Asia, where price can exceed US$168/lb (US$370/kg). Chinese diners believe that the geoduck’s…manly shape indicates that the unpreposessing mollusk will act as an aphrodisiac for those who consume its flesh. Price has shot upwards as China’s economy has grown.
In order to cash in on this bonanza, aquaculturists are attempting to stake out larger and larger swaths of coastline as geoduck farms. Such use of the tidelands causes consternation to real estate developers. Not only do developers object to the unaesthetic appearance of PVC pipes used as nurseries for juvenile geoducks, but the interests of both parties are entirely opposite. Coastal land development involves bulkheaded beachfronts, deforested land, and nitrogen waste from gardens and septic systems—all of which are inimical to successful geoduck beds.
As the conflict rages on, some people (figuratively!) embrace the geoduck and its strange appearance for non-financial reasons. The Evergreen State College of Olympia, Washington has adopted the remarkable burrowing clam as a mascot. Although the school’s official seal features a conifer tree, the unofficial coat of arms features a geoduck rampant d’or on a rondel azure (or however you say that in heraldry speak). Additionally the school’s teams are all named the geoducks and they actually have a guy dressed up like a giant filter feeding clam to root for them.
In the Northern Hemisphere today is the first day of winter. As always, this change of season occurs on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Last night was actually the longest evening of the year—so I suppose we can now look forward to the gradual return of the sun bit by bit (even as the weather worsens for the true cold of January and February).
To celebrate winter (admittedly my least favorite season), here is a gallery of winter personifications. Each wears an icy crown and most of them look cold, haughty, indifferent, or cruel. I am including these ice kings and queens under Ferrebeekeeper’s mascot category even though they are not really cheering for a team or a product. “Personification” seems close enough to the definition of mascot to ensure that I won’t get in trouble from WordPress (although, as ever, I invite any comments or aeguments below).
I would hang around and make some funny comments about all of the monarchs of winter but all of the white hair and piercing eyes are starting to weird me out a little (to say nothing of Katy Perry’s vacuous stare). Have you ever noticed how summer, spring, and fall are not represented as maniacal tyrants with wicked crowns? I’m looking forward to getting back to those other seasons. In the mean time have a wonderful winter!
I am in South Chicago, and, through no coincidence, my favorite fast-food restaurant is also here–so I am uncharacteristically devoting this post to fine dining. I hope my more serious readers will forgive the frivolity of this sybaritic post dedicated to the nation’s finest fried chicken restaurant, Harold’s Chicken Shack in Hyde Park, which I frequented with great gusto when both it and I were younger. Harold’s is known for its vibrant hen-themed wall-paper, its neighbors–namely a liquor store and a lottery shop, and its impregnability (since the cashiers and fry cooks still work behind at least one layer of bulletproof material), but most of all Harold’s is famous for its dirt-cheap, unhealthy, yet supremely delicious fried chicken.
I purchased a signature half chicken (white) with fries, hot sauce, extra white bread, and an RC cola. I’m live blogging the unique experience both because I have discovered that Harold’s chicken fits many of Ferrebeekeeper’s ongoing themes (namely crowns, farms, mascots, & art), and as an opening salvo of the Thanksgiving season of gluttony and good eating.
OK, here’s a photo of the inside of Harold’s Chicken Shack. As you can see, a variety of luridly colored machines are there to help you supplement your meal with candy, soft-drinks, and diabetes. Actually these are only some of the vending machines in the store: the ice-cream machine and the other candy machines are up by the counter. I decided not to take a photo of the counter area because Harold’s employees are hard-working folk and I didn’t want to get in their way (and because I was afraid they would think I was casing the joint and call the Chicago police). Unfortunately this means you can’t see the remarkable bulletproof glass food carousel or the menu with its gizzards, livers, grits, and fish.
Once I had obtained my half-chicken, I rushed it to the local park. The last 2 decades have been good for South Chicago and the park was much cleaner and more beautifully landscaped then back in the 90’s, but I did notice a smashed cassette about “How to Balance Your Life (The Physical Side of Life)” lying not far from a Crown Regal Bottle. I hope this doesn’t have anything to do with eating a 6,000 calorie meal, but I can’t help but think that it does.
Here is the outside of my fried half-chicken. You can see Harold’s two remarkable mascots on the wrapper: King Harold, complete with crown and scarlet robes is rushing after a speedy and clever free-range chicken who does not want to be part of his majesty’s supper. There is a lot to appreciate about the drama, pomp, and pathos of this logo—it captures all of my ambiguous but powerful feelings about animal farming. As an aside, it is unclear whether the eponymous “Harold” of Harold’s chicken represents Harold Harefoot (c. 1015–1040) or Harold Godwinson (c. 1022–1066) who famously fell before William the Conqueror to end Anglo-Saxon rule of England. Maybe they simply anglicized one of the many King Haralds from Sweden or Norway. Anyway, the mystery is part of the charm.
Now for the reveal: here is the Harold’s half chicken sodden with hot-sauce on its bed of fries. A few pieces of wonder bread are stacked on top in case the diner wishes to make a little chicken-skin and French fry sandwich. Hopefully you will notice the Royal Crown “RC” cola which again features a crown (in fact the logo is pretty much only a crown). My whole repast is covered with crown logos and there is indeed something regal about this meal. I can’t help but feel like Henry VIII as I throw bones to the side from orange-stained fingers. Eating Harold’s chicken is like life: the experience is messy and horrifying and delightful. There are moments of delight and moments of despair. As with life, the end is grim and painful and comes too soon. As a greasy calm fell over me and the first stabs of stomach pain began, I noticed this admirable statue sitting nearby the chess tables of Nichols Park. Campoli’s abstract imagery of talons and claws and beaks emerging from a (stomach-like) egg perfectly summarized my feelings about my delicious and unsettling lunch. Hooray for Harold’s!
Tomorrow evening will feature the first game of the Detroit Red Wings season. This bold team of lovable* misfits will take to the ice against the hockey team from Ottawa–the name isn’t listed but they have some sort of classical footsoldier as a mascot so we’ll call them the Ottawa Hopelites. [maybe you should understand at least something about hockey before writing about it—ed.]
Anyway, even more exciting than the actual game between the Redwings and the Hopelites is the unofficial mascot of the Red Wings. In a post concerning mollusk mascots from around the world, alert reader Ryon Lancaster commented that we had overlooked the mascot for the Detroit Red Wings, a purple hockey-playing octopus named Al. Apparently the legend of Al started back in April 15, 1952, when fishmongers Pete and Jerry Cusimano decided to throw an octopus onto the ice at Olympia Stadium. The eight tentacles of the cephalopod were meant to mystically represent the eight victories required to win the Stanley Cup (the ice hockey championship trophy). Sure enough the magical mollusk brought the team to championship victory and ever since then fans have thrown deceased octopuses onto the ice at their home stadium—especially during playoff matches. As the Red Wings’ octopus tradition deepened, the purple mascot Al coalesced from fan art and from oral tradition. Al takes his name from a former building operations manager, Al Sobotka, who exhibited great elan whenever he removed octopuses from the ice. Apparently Sobotka had a special octopus twirling technique which whipped the fans up (albeit at the expense of distributing octopus particles onto the ice and the crowd).
As you might imagine, NHL officials have mixed feelings about this fan tradition. In 2008 hockey officials banned Al Sobotka’s octopus twirling and the duty of removing octopus corpses has fallen to linesmen and icegirls. The stadium itself added a large octopus prop during the 1995 playoffs. This huge octopus totem was ceremonially raised to introduce the team. Later on it was given glowing red eyes (which light up during goals), a number eight hockey jersey, and a broken tooth. Since it now requires winning 16 games to win the Stanley Cup, there are two Al the octopuses hanging above the ice at playoff time.
Naturally a number of other teams have tried to imitate the seafood throwing craze including San Jose, (where fans threw a shark), Boston (lobster), and Vancouver (Salmon). The only other team which appears to be establishing a continuing tradition of throwing deceased aquatic creatures on the ice is the Nashville Predators (why does Nashville have a hockey team?): predators fans have been known to throw large catfish onto the ice. A weary ice attendant, Jessica Hanley is reported to have said “’They are so gross. They’re huge, they’re heavy, they stink and they leave this slimy trail on the ice. But, hey, if it’s good for the team, I guess we can deal with it.”
*actual boldness and lovability may vary
Of all the animal posts on Ferrebeekeeper, by far the most popular is the post relating to the wombat, the stalwart marsupial grazer of Australia. I have since added a post dedicated the (sadly) extinct Diprotodon, a giant wombat which walked the world from 1.5 million to 40,000 years ago. However, it has been a long time since those posts and also a long time since we had a post concerning mascots, so today we once again visit the stolid burrowing quadruped–but this time as interpreted by consumer artists. Here is a short gallery of wombats used as logos or mascots.
When I am playing the best-selling video game Mortal Combat with friends, I have one friend who always calls the game Chortle Wombat in the same sonorous battle-voice used by the (dark-wizard?) narrator of Mortal Combat. Surprisingly, the joke is hilarious to me because I always imagine a troop of ninjas desperately trying to make a dour old wombat laugh.Perhaps the most famous of all wombat mascots is “Fatso, the fat-arsed wombat”, an irreverent spoof of the official Olympic mascots of the Sydney games. It took me a long time to find a printable picture of Fatso and the most charitable interpretation I can put forth is that the character was designed and popularized by larrikins (a word which seems to either denote puckish non-conformists or dirty anarchists) to shine a spotlight on the weight problems sweeping the developing world.
Finally there are a handful of schools and sports teams which feature wombat mascots, although less than I would expect for an animal which is, in its way, an unofficial mascot of Australia.
As discussed on the 4th of July post, the national animal/symbol of the United States was nearly a rattlesnake. Perhaps it is well that the eagle prevailed: to the Judeo-Christian mindset snakes are taboo creatures identified with wickedness and the devil (or perhaps I should say that the other way around–since the tempter in Genesis is identified as a serpent and the devil does not appear until much later). However not everyone reviles serpents and certain bold organizations (from the medical profession, to racecar makers, to flute-rest manufacturers) have used the limbless animals to represent their organizations. Here is a gallery of symbols, logos, mascots, and crests which make use of snakes. I have thrown in some fictional archvillain organizations for fun–it will be up to you to separate them from the real institutions.
I particularly like the old fashioned crests (including Alfa Romeo’s corporate logo which looks like it once belonged to an evil viscount), however I would like to issue demerits to the Arizona Diamondbacks for not actually having a snake for their logo. Even more egregious, the diamondbacks employ a bobcat themed furry as their mascot when they could easily choose a mascot outfit like one of these unconventional snake suits.
In the past this site has featured posts about how some of my favorite organisms and mythical beings have been used as mascots or logos. I have blogged about turkeys, leprechauns, trees, and catfish as adopted as the symbols for businesses, sports teams, or individuals. These posts have been fairly open because mascots and logos are often loosely defined: sometimes an informal name catches on or a novelty statue becomes the symbol of a town. Indeed some of the images I included are only maniacs in costumes or striking illustrations. So be it! Such usages highlight the way in which these animals and concepts are worked into the fabric of our lives.
None of this prepared me for how mollusks have become mascots, logos, and symbols. One of the many reasons I write about mollusks is because they are so alien and yet simultaneously so pervasive and familiar. That idea is borne out by mollusk symbols! Not only is one of the world’s largest companies symbolized by a mollusk (to say nothing of how a squid has wiggled its way into becoming the unofficial mascot of one of the world’s richest and most controversial financial entities), some of the world’s strangest entities are also represented by octopus, squid, or shellfish.
Mollusk logos are immensely popular in Japan. Sometimes the reason is evident (as in squid flavored noodles with a cartoon squid on them), but other times the reasoning is elusive. Mollusks in Asian art deserve a post all of their own. Indeed the subject deserves more than that—for tentacles are so tangled up with fertility issues to the fervid Japanese imagination that my family blog is not going to explore some of the outré fringes of mollusk imagery in that island land. With that explanation (or caveat), here are some particularly good Japanese mascots–denied of any context since I don’t read that language!
Actually I have no idea if those last five are mascots or logos or what. Whatever they are, they come from Shinici MARUYAMA and they are jaw-droppingly incredible. The Japanese certainly have a very special relationship with mollusks!
Thanksgiving is next week! I have already bought a big aluminum platter and some oven bags for the great feast and my hunger is growing sharp…. In the mean time though, I continue to salute the majestic turkey bird–the glorious figure the whole holiday focuses around (albeit in an uncomfortably primitive sacrificed-and-devoured kind of way).
Today’s ambiguously conceived tribute takes the form of a gallery of turkey mascots and logos. It seems quite a lot of them are “Turkey Trot” promotions (apparently that’s some sort of Thanksgiving Day ceremonial run), processed food advertisements, whiskey labels, or creepy sports mascots. In this last category, pride of place certainly belongs to the HokieBird, the fighting turkey mascot of Virginia Tech, my sister’s alma mater. Here he is, first in a formal logo, then below that in a portrait, and finally in a candid shot, horsing around on the sidelines:
I’m never sure how to feel about Virginia Tech (sad, angry, confused, affectionate?) but I love the mascot and I salute their bold choice! Here are some other Turkey Mascots that didn’t necessarily work out as well and then some anonymous turkey costumes.
The following are food labels/brands. I really like the first one—a turkey trying desperately to sell tofu substitute:
I know I mentioned wild turkey before but I had to include it again because of the dazzling realism.
Here are some random Turkey images–cartoons, and logos from all sorts of different sources (especially “turkey trot” races around the country):
I’m closing this grabbag of images with a picture of the national bird of the United States getting angry and jockeying for pride of place with the turkey. Next week I’ll finish listing the different strains of domestic turkey and write some closing thoughts about this national obsession.
The Wahpper’s website informs us that “ same artist that created “Wahpper” also created “Salem Sue” – the World’s Largest Holstein Cow in New Salem, North Dakota.”
Wow, what a folksy post!