Miss Universe 2011

Miss Universe! Yes, it’s that time again, when hopeful young ladies gather from all around the world to grin their beautiful hostage grins into the camera, and to be dressed like fools in “National Dress” by horrible pageant planners secretly trying to test what young ladies are willing to wear on camera.

That answer came back: Practically anything.

I have tried to look at this and understand what happened. In the past, this category has been spectacularly awesome (Thailand!) or hilariously fun (the national costume of Iceland is dignity!). This year is what I can only term a Hot Mess, with Intermittent Laughter.

This year also seems to be the year that the always-fantastical undercurrent of this whole glittery mess went from subtext to text:

Tanzania, auditioning for a role in the inevitable Metropolis remake, and/or putting mortal fear into her enemy contestants. Either way, SUCCESS.

However, she had some serious competition in the Science Fiction and Fantasy category.

Under this cut, a bajillion pictures.

Puerto Rico, wearing an amazing dragon hat, which is something I don’t get to say often!

Angola IS Finding Nemo!

Venezuela, extrapolating what Danerys is going to look like by the end of the books.

Guam went Full Mermaid and I love it.

Interplanetary ambassador the Czech Republic.

Romania IS slightly embarrassed to be wearing a Dracula cape!

Some contestants tried to keep things grounded with more traditional National Dress, with varying degrees of success.

Singapore, looking lovely.


Guatemala, who had it all going for her until she put the hat on.

Georgia, not realizing how out of her league she was going to be in the Big Skirt category this year.

Egypt. Love it.

China. Love it.

Japan. Love it.

South Africa. Love it.

USA, understated as usual.

Kazakhstan, working it.




Sri Lanka, looking just as smug as I would be if my outfit was way more comfortable than everyone else’s.

Albania, ditto.

Denmark, in a lovely costume…

That Great Britain maybe should have considered.

France, out of nowhere with an amazing getup!

But the Netherlands is wearing a boat hat. GAME OVER.

Then we start sliding a little downhill.

Canada, which. Huh.

Mexico. “So, is there a LIMIT to what I can wear or carry? Are you sure? Great!”


Vaguely Feathery Interpretations:

The Cayman Islands get it right: wild and huge, but well-designed.

See also: Panama, Paraguay.

Meanwhile, someone hates Curacao so, so much.

And a brief craft tutorial: How To Wear Dangle Things From Your Arm Region.

Do: Ecuador, with style, proportion, and attitude.

Don’t: Ireland, peer pressured into stapling some CDs to her gauntlets five minutes before showtime.

You might think Ireland had something to be ashamed of, but let me assure you, this year’s crop of costumes gave her a run for her money. For some reason, there is a large Miss Universe contingent that forgets, every year, that this contest is coming up, and they make their costumes the night before. This year it was elevated to an art form of sucking, to the point that many of them walked the entire stage with an earnest expression of “What the Fuck, Seriously.”

So, let’s examine this, the best of categories.

British Virgin Islands, who can’t even.


Turks and Caicos.

Ukraine. (I laughed out loud.)

The Dominican Republic.


Spain. What?

Italy. WHAT?

Hungary. You cannot start the night before, this is what happens.


Honduras, who is not even pretending to care.

New Zealand, winner of Best Hostage Face.

Russia, who was hoping no one would notice she forgot her dress as long as she really worked the textiles.

Serbia, the last-minute-applique wonder of the world.

Kosovo, in a moment of awkward self-awareness.

U.S. Virgin Islands thinks that exactly 0% of this is funny.

Sweden. You know your costume’s a mess when the weird part of the outfit is the hat.

Australia, having learned literally nothing since last year.

Korea, who must be kidding me.

And El Salvador, the most magnificent bitchface of them all.

For the technical winner, I think you have to watch the pageant on TV tonight. But let’s face it, the real winner tonight?

Iceland, who had so much dignity her costume isn’t even here. WINNAH, AND STILL CHAMPYEN.

For the rest of the costumed carnage, you can check out the full list here, or head straight to the Trump-stamped source at MissUniverse.com.

  • http://twitter.com/slickhop [dave]


Recent Work

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  • World’s largest natural sound archive now fully digital and fully online.


    “In terms of speed and the breadth of material now accessible to anyone in the world, this is really revolutionary,” says audio curator Greg Budney, describing a major milestone just achieved by the Macaulay Library archive at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All archived analog recordings in the collection, going back to 1929, have now been digitized and can be heard at www.MacaulayLibrary.org


    “This is one of the greatest research and conservation resources at the Cornell Lab,” said Budney. “And through its digitization we’ve swung the doors open on it in a way that wasn’t possible 10 or 20 years ago.”

    It took archivists a dozen years to complete the monumental task. The collection contains nearly 150,000 digital audio recordings equaling more than 10 terabytes of data with a total run time of 7,513 hours. About 9,000 species are represented. There’s an emphasis on birds, but the collection also includes sounds of whales, elephants, frogs, primates and more.


    “Our audio collection is the largest and the oldest in the world,” explained Macaulay Library director Mike Webster. “Now, it’s also the most accessible. We’re working to improve search functions and create tools people can use to collect recordings and upload them directly to the archive. Our goal is to make the Macaulay Library as useful as possible for the broadest audience possible.”

    The recordings are used by researchers studying many questions, as well as by birders trying to fine-tune their sound ID skills. The recordings are also used in museum exhibits, movies and commercial products such as smartphone apps.


    “Now that we’ve digitized the previously archived analog recordings, the archival team is focusing on new material from amateur and professional recordists from around the world to really, truly build the collection,” Budney said. “Plus, it’s just plain fun to listen to these sounds. Have you heard the sound of a walrus underwater?  It’s an amazing sound.“ 

    Sample some fascinating Macaulay Library sounds:

    Earliest recording: Cornell Lab founder Arthur Allen was a pioneer in sound recording. On a spring day in 1929 he recorded this Song Sparrow sounding much as they do today

    Youngest bird: This clip from 1966 records the sounds of an Ostrich chick while it is still inside the egg – and the researchers as they watch

    Liveliest wake-up call: A dawn chorus in tropical Queensland, Australia is bursting at the seams with warbles, squeals, whistles, booms and hoots

    Best candidate to appear on a John Coltrane record: The indri, a lemur with a voice that is part moan, part jazz clarinet

    Most spines tingled: The incomparable voice of a Common Loon on an Adirondacks lake in 1992

    Most erratic construction project: the staccato hammering sounds of a walrus under water

    Most likely to be mistaken for aliens arriving: Birds-of-paradise make some amazing sounds – here’s the UFO-sound of a Curl-crested Manucode in New Guinea


2015 Appearances

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October: 8-11, New York Comic Con, NYC