Frog Jumping

 I use to question the need for a 24-hour TV channel devoted to sports. Well, let me tell you those days are gone. Why you ask? Thanks for the interest; an ever-increasing number of under-appreciated sports are seeing a revival of a sort as a result of exposure on television. While frog jumping hasn’t yet been highlighted in a big way, I know it is only a matter of time. I know, I thought the same thing too until I started researching this overlooked challenge of brut strength and determination in the frog eat fly world of the amphibian kingdom. It’s frog against frog in this heart-pounding contest. Which competitor will triumph? Will it be that bullfrog, or that bullfrog, or perhaps that bullfrog over there? The tension can be cut with a knife.

Frog jumping was made famous by Mark Twain in 1865 when his short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was published and since then there has been no holding back the popularity of the sport. Okay, for a few decades it may have disappeared, but in 1928 it came back with a vengeance and it is steadily growing to become the sport no one really is aware exists today. While there are many competitions throughout North America, the “Calaveras Frog Jumping Competition” is arguably the most prestigious event in the frog jumpers’ annual calendar.

The rules of the competition are strict. There are three amphibian competitors on the stage at any given time. Each frog must begin the jump while sitting with all four appendages on the launching pad. Once the contest begins only the frog and the frog jockey are permitted to be in front of the launching pad. If at anytime the frog jumps into the frog jockey or the frog jockey’s equipment the frog will be disqualified. The jump distance is measured from the launch pad to the length of three consecutive jumps of the frog. Competitors have a maximum of one minute to complete the three jumps. Jockeys may encourage their frogs by screaming, yelling or banging the stage. Once the frog leaves the launch pad, jockeys must not come into physical contact with their frogs. It is important to remember the frog catcher is not permitted to move until all three jumps have been completed on pain of immediate frog disqualification. The top 50 frogs compete in the “International Frog Jumping Grand Finals” where the top frog’s owners can earn as much as $5000 in prize money if the jumping record is broken.

While the competition is fierce, the issue of frog care is an important part of the frog jumping sport and there has been an official “frog welfare policy” in place since 1997. Frog jockeys or any member of the frog handling team that violates the policy or in any way abuses the competitors face banishment from the sport. The competition organizers are anticipating 10,000 frog competitors for the 2012 event.

In an unrelated bit of sporting news the frog leg eating championships will be held the day after the frog jumping competition has concluded.

English: BBQ Frog legs
Image via Wikipedia

Originally appeared in The Cascade newspaper







Barbie goes bad

Did you hear the one about the Barbie with the all over tattoos? No really, I’m serious. The new tokidoki® Barbie® has permanent tattoos on her shoulder, neck and upper chest. CBC News quotes Professor Joel Baken, the author of Childhood under Siege (I believe Steven Segal starred in the movie version) as saying, “this is a calculated attempt to play on young girls’ natural desire to appear older. It also encourages girls to become walking billboards.” I’m guessing the good professor doesn’t get to the mall all that often or he’d know that ship has long since sailed.


HipstahBarbie #barbie #hipster #tattoo #ink #h...
 (Photo credit: Sin Amigos)


Speaking of ships, I came very close to getting a tattoo once. I was in the navy for a number of years and once on shore leave in an exotic foreign port (okay, it was downtown San Diego) some shipmates and I ended up in a tattoo parlour, as you do. I’m sure they ended up with some rugged manly permanent artwork. Luckily I had the presence of mind to forgo the ink. In hindsight I’m very glad, as the tattoo I was considering was of Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker standing in a fierce pose with his two arms raised above his head and his light saber held in his hands. In my defense I was young and quite svelte and I’m sure Luke would have appeared quite fetching on me. Today however, I have gained a pound or two (or as my doctor insists on describing my weight, “the most outrageous example of morbid obesity I have ever encountered in a patient.”) and now people would have been be puzzled as to why I had a tattoo of Jabba the Hut wearing Luke Skywalker’s clothes.


And speaking of clothes, Mattel says their tokidoki® Barbie® “is always ready for cutting-edge fashion! She pops on a pink miniskirt, logo leggings and black top with signature skull heart and bones, carries a large bag from the brand, then adds bracelets, a belt, and sky-high sparkly silvery shoes! This funky fashionista features trendy tattoos and a pink bob. With cactus friend, Bastardino, by her side, she’s ready for fun in fashion-forward form!” How could a young girl not want this doll?


Now you might be wondering if there is any validity to the issues raised by concerned citizens. Let me draw your attention to the words of such a citizen as reported in the Daily Mail newspaper, “Encouraging children that tattoos are cool is wrong, wrong, wrong”. Well reasoned Daily Mail type concerned person. But, perhaps the always credible Perez Hilton may have said it best when he asked, “…is Mattel secretly brainwashing America’s youth to support the permanent body art industry?” To Mr. Hilton I say very sincerely, please shut up.


Now nothing good can come from getting a tattoo. In fact many people think if a person has a tattoo they must be a person of very low moral character. Speaking of politicians, both Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt sported tattoos. Imagine how successful they could have been if they hadn’t burdened themselves with tattoos? It is also rumored that Sarah Palin may have a tattoo of the big dipper on her ankle and tattooed lip liner. Okay, bad example, forget that one. Of course there are many other positive role models with tattoos that children can look up to. There’s Jesse James (the motorcycle one, not the outlaw), Britney Spears, Tommy Lee, Pamela Anderson, Charles Manson and of course, tattoo artist Kat Von D. If I have left someone off the list that you may think is important then you really have a warped sense of what makes a person important.


Now if you are a young person that received a tokidoki® Barbie® and are now just itching to go and get you own tattoos I say, good for you. One or two things first though. Have a look at a site such as YouTube and watch a few of the tattooing videos. A couple of my personal favorites are, “How to Minimize the Pain of Getting a Tattoo”, “Woman screaming while getting a tattoo” (I recommend the full length version) and “Weirdest, strangest, sickest and dumbest tattoos ever”. Oh, and you might want to look up infection, allergic reactions, granulomas, keloid formation and hepatitis. I’m sure you’ll never need an MRI, but if you do I hear the risk of it causing your tattoo to burn is very rare. Hey, did you know that tattooing machines pierce the skin between 50 and 3000 times a minute? I’m sure that must be fun.


If you haven’t picked up your tokidoki® Barbie® yet, then too bad for you because Mattel is all sold out. Be patient though, I’m sure they’ll make more. The thing I really want to know though is whatever happened to Barbie’s pregnant friend Midge? She came with a detachable magnetic belly that when it was removed had a baby inside. Seems some other concerned citizens weren’t pleased with that doll either. I wonder if Midge and Alan are still together? I guess that will have to wait for another column.


First appeared in The Cascade newspaper