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Archive for the tag “culture”

Finding America: The Potato Drops

Finding America (Series I: Idaho): The 3rd Annual Potato Drop

The United States is full of awe inspiring places, people, and things- ghost towns turned tourist trap, archaic worshipping sites, old battlegrounds, vast canyons and mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, and the stories of the people who have lived and toiled here. Thinking of these things, I realize that I have not yet met my country, and there are a many things to explore. But discovery is a process, and since I cannot learn it all at once I will start with where I am: Boise, Idaho.

I’ve been in Boise since September, 2015. During the past three months I’ve only brushed the surface of the sites and people that occupy this postage stamp of land. Though I could write about the Capitol building, or the Botanical Gardens, I will save these and others for another time. Instead, I will start this New Year with a new Boise tradition: the annual New Year’s Potato Drop.

I first heard about this event on December 30, 2015, and found the idea novel enough to attend. This year’s festival, ringing in 2016, was the Third Annual Potato Drop, and featured a 15ft Potato lowered for the countdown that initiated a fireworks display. Though I arrived at 11:45pm that evening and missed most of the vendors, it was great fun.

In final 10 minutes before the drop there was a short New Years Bachelorette program, where a young woman asked a series of questions to three eligible bachelors. She ultimately selected bachelor number three to sit with during the drop, while the other two bachelors were introduced to the runner-up bachelorettes. Immediately after this, came the countdown for the New Year and the ceremonial lowering of the Potato.

It was a bit silly, yes, and cold, but it was a nice way to remind us that life is more than ceremony. That life is full of cold days, times of loneliness, and other sufferings we must endure, but life is just as full, if we look, of the little things to make us smile, and of the 15 foot potatoes descending on a crane.

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Book Blurbs (FUCK by Christopher M. Fairman)

Written in a clear (at times sarcastic) voice, reading FUCK (Word Taboo and Protecting Out First Amendment Liberties) by Christopher M. Fairman (2009) is time well spent. FUCK is a short work exploring the nature of the word fuck as a social and legal problem. Fairman starts by giving an overview of the history of fuck as a word, its usage and etymology, as well as the psycholinguistics of the word, and the inconsistent treatment of fuck in various court cases. “Fuck is taboo-” Fairman concludes, “deep-rooted and dark. For over half a millennium we’ve suppressed it. If the psycholinguists are right, we’ve done so for good reason. Fuck embodies our entire culture’s subconscious feelings about sex – about incest, being unclean, rape, sodomy, disease, Oedipal longings, and the like. The word shoulders an immense taboo burden.” (pg. 188). FUCK is a work which makes the reader think about words and why they are deemed ‘profane’, ‘inappropriate’, and the reasons we feel ashamed when we break the taboos on language. Fairman concludes by saying that liberating our language from taboos is also an approach to freedom of mind (our thoughts are limited by the words we keep), and this freedom starts with relieving fuck of its burden of taboo to expand our herds of words.

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