Cowman’s New Handle

For a decade, the mascot of the Ohio State Fair has been a spotted Holstein called, simply, “Cowman.”

I admired the straightforward nature of the name.  The moniker told you everything you needed to know about the character.  It was just some guy — probably a teenager looking to make a few bucks during the summer break — walking around in a cheesy looking cow costume, getting his picture taken with Fair food-stoked kids at the behest of their doting parents.  Man + cow costume = Cowman.  Never mind that cows are, by definition, female, so that “Cowman” is a complete non sequitur.

This year the Fair organizers decided to have a Facebook contest to come up with a “better” name for Cowman.  The winning entry was “Butters.”  It’s not a bad name, with its dairy reference and its nod to South Park.  It’s definitely better than other possible options, like Elsie or Milkwad McCheese.  But I’ll miss the brutal simplicity of “Cowman.”  “Butters” just isn’t the same.

The Ohio State Fair is underway, incidentally, and runs through August 5.


In the “life imitates South Park” category, the latest commercial for the Chevy Volt is a pretty strong contestant.  South Park, you may recall, had a memorable episode about the “smug” emitted by Prius drivers.

You may have seen the ad, which has been running during the NCAA Tournament games.  It features an earnest if devilish looking guy who appears to be wearing a bowling shirt talking about his Volt.  He professes to wake up every morning “thinking about the future.”  He thinks his car is cool, but also “makes a statement at the same time.”  He’s happy to explain that people “don’t totally understand how the Volt works”; he doesn’t ever worry about running out of battery power because his car will just switch over to gas when needed.  He doesn’t need to gas up much, either.  At one point, the commercial actually says about the guy:  “He is smart.”

This commercial just radiates smugness, and the dripping condescension of Mr. Smarty-Pants as he explains how his car works to the knuckle-draggers in the unlettered masses is insufferable.  I guess we’re just lucky the guy doesn’t also remind us that buying a Volt also is smart because the car is subsidized by the federal government — which means that the rest of us doltish taxpayers who are driving standard, unsubsidized internal combustion cars are helping him feel good about himself each morning when he thinks about the future again.

The Book Of Mormon, Christmas Eve

Yesterday we went to see the hottest show on Broadway, The Book of Mormon.  We had to pay a premium to the ticket brokers, but it was an early Christmas present.

The Book of Mormon is the latest work of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and it has all of the comedic elements you would expect from the creators of South Park.  It follows the misadventures of a mismatched team of two Mormon companions as they complete their training and leave on their mission of conversion to a small, war-torn, AIDS-riddled village in Africa.  It is profane, obscene, irreverent, and hilarious — and yet has a positive message lurking amidst the skewering of religious belief and simple faith.

Of course, people don’t go to Broadway musicals for deep ruminations about religion — they go for singing, dancing, and laughs.  The Book of Mormon delivers on all fronts.  From the bell-ringing opening, to Turn It Off, about the Mormon trick of dealing with bad thoughts, to Spooky Mormon Hell Dream, which features appearances by Jesus, Satan, Johnny Cochran, Jeffrey Daumer, and Hitler, among others, this show is packed with great song-and-dance numbers and funny lines.  The fact that most of the singing and dancing is done by buttoned-down, clean cut, chipper Mormons in their white, short sleeve shirts, black pants, black ties, and black shoes, just adds to the enjoyment.