Author Archives: Belton McMurrey

About Belton McMurrey

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104.9 Magic AM Radio

The following story was relayed from a cousin during a night at home in south Texas. On frequent occasion during family gatherings, cousins will gather on the porch following dinner to share cocktails, beers, cigarettes, and conversation. When the night has progressed for a few hours more, the conversation shifts into each member of the conversation sharing humorous anecdotes and stories one-by-one.

 

The cousin who told the story works and lives exclusively in south Texas, and being out of college is more privy to hearing the bizarre ramblings of local radio stations in the coastal areas surrounding Corpus Christi. The labor culture that exists in this area is predominantly a mix of English and Spanish-speaking idiosyncrasies, drawing from distinctly Hispanic and Anglo modes of speech.

 

On the night of documentation, the cousin in question told a story of a particular AM radio station known as ‘104.9 Magic’, operated by a 60-something Hispanic man named Lolo Aguilar. As described by my cousin, Mr. Aguilar’s sessions on the radio center on no topic in particular and extend for sometimes a matter of hours consisting entirely of him simply speaking into the radio from whatever is on his mind, with the only interruptions coming in the form of homemade commercial breaks celebrating the popular basketball team of the San Antonio Spurs.

 

One of Mr. Aguilar’s daily ramblings proceeded as follows (to be read/imagined in a Hispanic-American dialect):

 

“Today I thought I’d talk about presidents. Couple good topics the last couple days, but I figured today I’d hold off on having people call in and just talk about a few things that’ve been on my mind lately.

 

Now, you know…the thing about presidents, and we have a lot of good ones too, throughout the years. There was Ronald Reagan. Theodore Roosevelt, uh…Abraham Lincoln. George Washington, he goes without saying. And not just them by themselves either, we had too many good ones. And people normally talk about a few when they’re talking about things like that.

 

But you know who was, maybe, perhaps the best president that nobody talk about too much like the others is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They call him FDR. He was president during Worl’ War Two, and also, he was president The Great Deprechon [Depression]. And you know, he was in office for four times. Which was the most terms of any other president. He had a lot of really goo things going for him in these time. But the thing is, he die. So he could not be president no more.”

 

What particularly stands out to me from my cousin’s story, later tuning in myself the next day to wind up listening to a ten minute discussion on Crayola’s success being measured in how many colors they offer in crayon boxes, is his encapsulation of perhaps not the exact words of Mr. Aguilar, but undoubtedly the spirit with which he carries his day-to-day personality on the airwaves. The most important notion for my cousin to capture and feed our complete understanding (as an audience to his own recollection) depends not on perfectly remembering every comma, pause, and word, instead relying on a sensory recreation of what it feels like to listen to this man on the radio.

Sore Tooth Joke

The following story is a joke collected from an older cousin during a brief car ride to a hiking area. Instead of turning to music or media-based entertainment as means to pass and occupy time, my cousin and I tend to exchange long dialogues of personal philosophies and other similar thoughts. Because these types of conversations tend to last for extended periods of time, and given that this car ride would only last about ten minutes, we instead opted to share our favorite ‘dirty jokes,’ ie, anecdotal passages of humor that typically rely on sexual topics as their main basis of humor.

The joke goes as follows:

So this man, just your average joe, he’s driving around in backwoods Louisiana, taking in the manner of the country and whatnot, looking for some local character.

He comes up on a bar, this nasty old shack of a place right on the water. Rickety, pieced together, looks like a hell of a time if you can manage to handle it. Anyway, he walks up to the front door with a few hints of second thoughts and then sees a bright yellow notice posted on the front. Big capital letters, reads: ‘Lifetime of Free Beer for anyone who completes the Three-Tier Challenge.’

So the guy shrugs and goes on in. Place is a madhouse, needless to say. He doesn’t fit in at all with his office drone attire compared to all these boondocks Louisiana maniacs.  Sure you can picture that pretty easily. Anyway, he goes up to the bartender and tells him he’s interested in the Three-Tier Challenge.

Guy looks at him like he’s crazy. ‘You sure?’

The man nods, and the bartender tells him the details:

‘Alright, well first, you gotta down a bottle of our specialty flaming pepper tequila. Without crying. Second, there’s a mean ol’ fifteen foot alligator out back with a sore tooth. And once you get that tooth out, you gotta head upstairs and take care of the roughest, toughest hooker in all of Louisiana.’

The man nods. And he goes ahead and starts.

He gets set up with the pepper tequila, and after a few long and painful minutes, he gets through the entire bottle without a single tear. Everyone’s impressed.

He stumbles out the door, drunk as shit, where the alligator’s waiting for him. Closes the door behind him. Everyone inside thinks ‘oh boy, this guy’s a goner’.

And then they hear the sounds. Thrashing, roaring, the most terrifying shrieks imaginable. Noises they don’t think could possibly come from either the man or the alligator. Even the toughest souls in that saloon are haunted to the core. The noise stops. Everyone’s quiet.

In walks the man, his outfit torn to pieces, covered in blood. He looks at the bartender and asks

‘ALRIGHT! WHERE’S THAT HOOKER WITH THE SORE TOOTH!’ ”

This particular joke certainly shows the effectiveness of using the combined surprise of subverted expectations and abrupt endings as a comedic tool. In this instance, the listener is expecting to hear the encapsulating line to the joke following the patron’s completion of the third task, but instead, his faulty (and cringe-inducing) completion of the second task serves to cut the joke short without leaving anything unresolved.

Oscar Watch Party

To provide context, the ‘awards season’ is a film industry term that refers to the months and awards shows leading up the final, and most historically prestigious show, the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars). Held at the end of each year to recognize various achievements in filmmaking, the awards given in this show are considered the highest achievement in the entertainment world.

 

Despite being centered on a relatively small industry, the place of movies is highly visible in the eyes of the American public, given that they are seen by millions of people. Therefore, it becomes a popular group activity to try and predict the winners of the Academy Awards, given its competitive nature, the widely familiar subject matter and the ability of anyone to play.

 

The following situation illustrates an ‘Oscar watch party’ with a number of guests at the house of a friend during the airing of the 90th Academy Awards. It should be noted this took place in Los Angeles, the seat of the film industry and the location of nearly all the awards shows, with the hosting friend a prominent producer in said industry:

 

Invited guests arrived at the host’s home in the hours preceding the show, with a dinner of pasta and salad being prepared at the same time. A number of appetizing foods were laid out for the meantime- chips, salsa, queso, guacamole, and bottled beers, with the television switched to the channel that the show would soon air on.

 

The awards show itself is preceded by a ‘red carpet’ program where nominees and their guests, naturally forming a sizable body of famous celebrities and movie stars in a single location. The stars are documented arriving to the venue of the awards show, showcasing elaborate dresses and participating in interviews.

 

The presence of this program allows a pleasant occupation of time before the actual show begins, alongside the appetizers and friendly conversation. During this time, the host additionally distributed ballots with a complete list of nominees in each category for guests to fill out and make their respective predictions.

 

As the show began, dinner was served alongside more alcohol-heavy tequila margaritas, ballots were handed in, and guests took their seats before the television.

 

Loud cheers, boos, praises, and surprises filled the room as each winner was announced over the course of the three hours making up the show. All the while, guests checked off their ballots to see whether they were correct or not in their predictions.

 

By the show’s end, the person with the greatest amount of correct marks earned a moment of pride, along with a physical prize of the last margarita.

 

On a further explanatory note regarding the Academy Awards and the fervor that comes to surround its airing, the months preceding the Academy Awards are peppered with smaller, less prominent awards shows (Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes, BAFTAs) most of whose voting members have great amounts of crossover with the voting body of the Academy. Altogether, the nominees and winners of these preceding awards illustrate candidates of favorability to eventually be nominated for an Academy Award. Once the nominees have actually been announced, the winners and nominees of the awards leading up to the final show helpfully contribute to an overall historical record of statistics that allow one to pinpoint the likely ultimate winners.

 

With so many factors and events that present an increasingly clearer picture of who might win an Oscar, competition can become understandably heated as to making accurate predictions. The most interesting contentions arise when viewers are attached to certain films, directors, actors, or other nominees and insist their likelihood to win despite statistics suggesting otherwise. Given that there have been plenty of surprises and snubs throughout its 90-year history, upsets are not out of the question.

 

Although bets are frequently placed on the winners, this was not the case in the matter of this watch party’s ballot. The non-necessity of betting likely suggests the reason why so many people participate in the guessing-game conversation regarding the Academy Awards, being that the only thing at stake for most participants is the pride lost from having made an incorrect prediction.

Lapp Mug

The item pictured is a traditional Lappish drinking cup/mug (known locally as a guksi) gifted to me by a local Saame (Lapp) woman while I was spending time in Finland in an area known as Lapland, which covers the northern expanse of the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, and Norway and is largely located within the Arctic Circle.

The Saame, the group to which the woman belongs, are a people indigenous to Lapland.

Although the woman did not speak English, my guide acted as an interpreter between us as I asked questions regarding the mug.

 

The mug itself is carved out of a single piece of wood collected from burls on birch tree trunks. The birch tree is ubiquitous in the Finnish wilderness and is the most commonly used material in the construction of most Lappish items, including the mug itself, sled frames, furniture, and even entire homes. Revered for its strong, hardy, and unyielding quality and capable shock resistance, the use of birch is an endless sight in Lapland.

 

The most significant characteristic of birch, as it relates to the mugs, is its antibacterial properties, which necessitates little to no cleaning. Thus, the mug bears with it benefits of both health and convenience. Any cleaning of the mug is to be conducted with a simple combination of cloth and water, as it is believed soap or detergents will damage the mug.

 

As for the actual construction of the mug, what is most noteworthy is the presence of two holes through which to place one’s fingers. This serves a practical purpose for maintaining additional stability as to not accidentally drop the mug, although the dual hole it is not a strict method of construction, as many guksis contain a single hole. Another benefit is the insulative properties of the wood when drinking hot liquids, as one can wrap their hand around the entirety of the mug without discomfort, as opposed to the tendency for ceramic mugs to become heated (hence the necessity of a handle.

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Friendships Toast

The following is a toast collected from a group of five friends who recite a pledge aimed at their longstanding mutual friendship. The pledge is performed during communal games involving alcohol, particularly ‘beer pong’ which is played between teams of two along the ends of a tall rectangular table.

 

The rules and practice of said game do not apply to the situation of the toast besides the table on which the game is played, which plays an integral and symbolic part to the performance of the toast. Therefore, the rules of the game will not be explained further outside of any direct relation to the proceedings of the toast.

 

The context of the situation proceeds as such:

The five friends gather around a handmade table constructed from available and basic wood materials. The table itself is kept at the host participant’s home, whose name has been excluded. While the participant is not the exclusive host to every party, each use of the table and recital of the toast is reserved to his home.

 

While there is no designated time during these parties for the toast to occur, it often falls after a few rounds of initial play of any alcohol-centered games, where everyone will have had at least one turn playing and thus have ingested sufficient amounts of alcohol to be slightly intoxicated at the very least.

 

At this point, each member of the group gathers around the table. The toast itself goes as follows:

 

(recited altogether)

“There are good ships, there are wood ships. There are ships that sail the sea. But the best ships, are friendships. So here’s to you and me!”

 

Each member of the group then simultaneously taps their beer can on the table and raises it up to drink. While raising their drinks, everyone together says (with less intensity)

 

“Down with Hitler.”

 

Each member then drinks until satisfied.

 

The pledge itself is a cheerful acknowledgment of the mutual bonds of friendship between each participant, and for the group as a whole. The concluding mention of “Down with Hitler” serves as a humorous reference to the host participant’s Jewish heritage, serving as a sarcastic assurance of false machismo that underlines the lightheartedness of the toast itself.

 

The table on which the toast is centered is constructed with dimensions of around 8 feet-by-2 feet and standing at waist height. Its top is painted with horizontal stripes of blue, green, yellow, and red, giving it a vibrant and outstanding place in the room.

 

Written in permanent marker across the top of the table are the words to the toast itself, along with various doodles such as star-bound rockets and bizarre imaginary creatures.

 

The names of each participant, accompanied by self-applied nicknames (often overly elaborate and nonsensical, otherwise only a vague relation to a defining characteristic of each person) meant to be referenced in an exclusively ironic manner.

 

These nicknames include:

 

Dr. Dreidel

A play on the stage name of popular rapper Dr. Dre and a reference to the participant’s Jewish faith.

 

Dookie Prada-G

The second part of the name a reference towards rappers’ tendencies to reference high-end clothing brands in their music in public image, itself a play on the word ‘prodigy’ despite Trevor’s complete lack of a musical background.

 

The other names of MC Betty, The Mist, and Boogiewitz 3000 are intentionally nonsensical, unrelated to the participant’s real names in any way. Thus, their humor is derived from this very nature of having no connection whatsoever to their makers.