December 31, 2012

Embarrassment Behind the Ice

How do I skate in this thing?

After letting a few days pass to regain my composure, self esteem and some extra feathers, I will share my most embarrassing accident to date. I realized I should capitalize off my suffering instead of suffering silently by myself. Thank God for the internet. My incident had no witnesses, but now the world can laugh at my expense. Go easy on me, I'm poor.

It all started as the usual scene between shows: me eating something and then trying to decide 30 minutes later if I'm still hungry and if I'd eaten enough to survive another show. After eating a mini pizza, I decided I needed more carbs before going into the show, where I'd play the head sergeant of the green army boy toys in addition to my usual roles. This is as close to participating in the army as I'll probably ever get, so I at least wanted my blood sugar to be up.

December 23, 2012

Cackling 'Til the World Ends

So, the world didn't end.

God's revenge.
The Mayans predicted the end of the world for December 21, 2012. Their calendar had been spot on up until now, so many people at least entertained the idea of our demise on that date. In days leading up to the 21st, each news article revealed more facts and opinions dismissing doomsday, but this potential apocalypse still grabbed (too much) attention. Why didn't any of these arguments discrediting the apocalypse come out any sooner than the week of the frenzy? At least the Mayans had more credibility than that Christian whack job (Harold Camping) who keeps picking random dates for the end of the world, who is wrong every time, but still gets media attention. I say the world will end on August 5, 2985 (my 1,000th birthday), will you listen to me?

December 13, 2012

Tupelo: Not Spanish for "Your Hair"

Real American. Real English.
As we travel weekly to a new city with Hens on Ice, I try to assimilate into the local culture. Last year's tour through Europe was a challenge in some ways, but easy in others. I avoided flashy clothes or anything with an American flag to blend in on the streets, and with my WASPy complexion, some locals even thought I was from there...until I opened my mouth. When I opened my mouth, no matter what country and what language they spoke, I was done assimilating. My accent was like an American flag sweater I couldn't take off.

I first thought this year's tour through much of the U.S. would be far easier to blend. I live in this country - consider me assimilated! I've had twenty...something years to learn and live. No menus in foreign languages or women asking me for directions in French this time. While Florida was easy since I live there, many of these southern cities have been worlds of their own. My parents never took me to the south to assimilate.

December 10, 2012

Warning: Not Funny, But There Are Pictures

Even The Cackling Hen takes cackle breaks. Usually, this silent hiatus is seen by me just not writing anything for three months (there's nothing funny about a cold, grey winter). Although I try to slip in the occasional pearl of wisdom between clucks, this Hen post aims to keep the cackles sparse because I have something more to say (and I'm just not feeling that funny!)

If you're still reading, this post contains 9,000 words in picture form (again, they won't make you cackle). We are in Biloxi, Mississippi this week, a town battered by Hurricane Katrina. When I first thought of Biloxi, I just pictured its waterfront casinos, but after doing a little research, I learned that Biloxi, much like New Orleans, was devastated by Katrina.

November 30, 2012

It's Britney, Bitch! 2.0

The Cackling Hen recently pecked at Christina Aguilera, and while there's still more to peck at (try a gym membership, Christina), it's time to put Britney Spears back on the pecking block. Britney has always been a favorite for The Hen, and now that she's on primetime TV with the X Factor, along with a new music video with, Britney's back on The Hen!

"So, you bring the star power and I'll bring the auto tune."
Wednesday night was a big night for Britney on the X Factor. Not only did she look sharp (thank God she ditched the turtle neck and found a hair brush since an earlier episode), X Factor also premiered her new music video with, "Scream and Shout." To be fair, it's's music video featuring Britney Spears, since her parts just consist of harmonies, talking, and mouthing her infamous 2007 line, "It's Britney, bitch." But since we lose interest in when he's not a Black Eyed Pea, Britney's presence aims to carry this video.

November 18, 2012

The Cackling Hen's Guide to Twitter

"Who are you calling a Tweeter?"

My hen friend Kim recently clucked that she didn't understand Twitter. She was asking questions like, "What's a hashtag?" and "Does my iPhone connect to the internet?" Up for the challenge to turn my school brain back on, I took Kimmie under my wing. We had a Twitter class/lunch date to peck over Twitter's uses and purpose and a big lunch. We left full and accomplished, even sending a few tweets from the table. Kimmie is no longer spelling out the word, "hashtag," and although she still says "Tweeter" sometimes, she'll be okay. Here is The Cackling Hen's Starter Guide to Twitter, inspired by Kim.

November 12, 2012

Funky Hen Down

This isn't natural 
While all us hens on ice may seem perfect on the surface, we all take a tumble from time to time during our live performances. Besides, we're only hens, right? But the falls add flavor to our show, a little spice of laughter or gasp when the audience least expects it, reminding us that no hen is perfect.

As a competing hen, I touted myself as being a consistent skater, usually saving most of my crashing and burning for practice sessions. Now as a show hen, I feel the same way. But that confidence in rarely falling during a show makes my falls that much more spectacular, since they also come with a facial reaction and or sound effect.

November 7, 2012

Big Bird for 2016

I need to vote for myself.

Last night, just over half the American people re-elected President Obama to stay in office for the next four years. While I wrote in my vote for Big Bird just below Rosanne Barr’s name, I still feel a sigh of relief that Obama is in office for birds everywhere. While Obama is no Big Bird, he at least won’t be pulling the rug out from Big Bird’s home or treating hens like second-class citizens. And with such publicity, Big Bird has a good shot for 2016.

But with Obama winning by just a slight majority, that leaves the almost-majority minority who voted for Romney, Barr or Big Bird. And with social media basically taking over most of our lives, it leaves million upon millions of Americans both unhappy and vocal online. If the months of build up weren’t bad enough – inundations of political ads and everyone on Facebook on Twitter suddenly having strong political opinions – the aftermath of the election on social media is one last tidal wave.

November 2, 2012

Walk This Way

Where's the metro?
Hens on Ice has taken me many places I never imagined I'd see, such as Paris, Cape Town and Stone Henge, to name just a few. This week I'm in another such place - Florence, South Carolina. It may not have historic landmarks or sidewalks, but it's also a place I never envisioned spending time.

We began our tour in mostly large cities, staying downtown - areas conducive to walking. Now that we have been spending weeks in smaller cities in the South, apparently no one walks in these places. The city of Florence, along with too many cities in the US, was designed assuming that everyone has a car. Why didn't anyone have carless groups of traveling show vagabonds in my mind when city planning?

October 25, 2012

Double the Decaf

I don't follow.
There are two different kinds of things I do not understand. There are those things that we don't know, but we can learn after a chat with our friends and family, turning on the TV or searching trusted online sources, like Wikipedia and Google. Then there are those things I've accepted I will never understand, such as why a Big Bird killer is in the running for president and why decaffeinated coffee exists. Since my absentee ballot for Big Bird is in the mail, I'll peck decaf.

October 12, 2012

New Xtina: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

When I started The Cackling Hen, I envisioned this little cackle column to primarily take a peck at pop culture and silly celebrities. Then things like the election and my own life derailed that idea, and The Hen evolved into an unpredictable column! While Hens on Ice and Republicans have often been the pecking bags lately, it's time to go back to The Cackling Hen's early intentions. With a new song and video, let's take a peck at Christina Aguilera.
I wish my last album sold better.

Christina has not gone unscathed from The Hen. She got a good peck back when The Hen lived in USFSP's Crow's Nest. Check out when Christina made the anthem her own. Since getting creative with the national anthem, Christina joined The Voice as a judge, gained 40 pounds and got into drag makeup. Now she has a new music video - her first since her not-so-successful Bionic album.

October 8, 2012

Romney is Worse Than Colonel Sanders

New debate: who gets the drumstick?
Last week was the first of too many presidential debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney. In an effort to distance myself from political commentary and lower my blood pressure, I opted for a sassy dinner out with hen friends over watching the debate. I will admit I did check my Twitter feed just long enough to scream across the table for five seconds, yelling five profanities about the debate's absurdity, but other than that, it was a lovely dinner of cackles and Thai food.

When I returned after some chicken dance and cocktails, I glanced at the news(feed) to look for a brief summary of any hot topics, outrageous quotes or fist fights from the debate. I was shocked to see numerous headlines with both Mitt Romney and Big Bird. What the hell is going on? Those two have as much in common as Steve Martin and Queen Latifah in Bringing Down the House. But there are no zany antics or Betty Whites in these headlines.

October 5, 2012

Just a Country Hen

After leaving Slaughterville, aka Louisville, the Hens on Ice troop has arrived in Nashville, Tennessee. Thankfully this city pays hommage to wholesome country music, not butchering innocent chickens. I may not be a country music fan, but I sure prefer it over the sound of a KFC deep fryer. It's all about perspective.
Where's the Carrie exhibit?

Today I broadened my horizons and ruffled my feathers by visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame. I may not have known about any of the country music legends other than Carrie Underwood, but I did know that I liked Carrie Underwood. I followed her entire journey on season 4 of American Idol. I couldn't wait to relive that journey, as I was sure it'd be a special exhibit.

September 26, 2012

Face to Beak with a Killer

fluttering around Louisville

Today started as a lovely day off in Louisville, Kentucky. I explored the city and the riverfront area with some hen friends, enjoying the warm, crisp sunshine and seeing new surroundings. We had an outdoor patio lunch on the river of seafood, feed and cocktails. The setting was perfect - it seemed that the day would stay that way.

After another one or four hours of fluttering through the Louisville streets, we stopped into the tourism bureau to find a store where we could buy more feed. And there in the seemingly harmless room filled with toy horses and baseball bats stood the grim reaper of cackling hens: Colonel Sanders.

September 19, 2012

It's Always Sassy in Huntsville

The Cackling Hen had been flying high for a while - getting a record-breaking four comments and double digit page views. Clearly just one hit post away from being covered on TMZ, The Cackling Hen had to get off the typewriter and back on the ice for live performances of Hens on Ice. Once again, performing for chicks and their parental roosters got in the way of my internet stardom.

The Hens survived two busy weeks of shows, rehearsals, visits from the Hens on Ice cocks of the walk, and presentations for understudy roles of various animals and poultry. I questioned if I could pull off the roles of Rubber Duckie or lead asparagus, but after nights of practice and watching National Geographic documentaries, I was ready. Hopefully now I'll have less mornings waking up in an anxious sweat, muttering Rubber Duckie's lines to myself.

August 30, 2012

A Million Dollar Beak

Whitestrip or pregnancy test?
After years of debate, I have given in to a life-changing product in hopes to fly from my modest, middle class status to a slightly less modest, middle class status. I bought a pack of Crest Whitestrips to add some new shine to my beak.

Many of my hen friends have used Whitestrips and have had successful results. I've hemmed and hawed - is it worth the $20? Do I have $20? Will it work? Am I giving in to a superficial society? Is it a tax write off? Where are my keys? But rooming with Sasha Hen, who uses them and has an especially white beak, I went for it. And if I had any problems, she could help me.

August 22, 2012

Back on the Icy Road

Hidalgo's Statue of Liberty
The hens are back on the ice. We won't be touring any of Europe or Mars, but we will be taking our show to many of America's cultural hot spots, such as Tupelo, Mississippi and Hidalgo, Texas. We just don't have the time for New York or L.A.

During last year's European tour, we had to adapt to European culture and coups. We learned some of the native language - British English - and we squished our feathers and seeds into the "cozy" confines built for hens a foot shorter than ourselves. We will now be touring North America, and although we just began the rehearsals, we are readapting to American life. Here are a few things these hens will need to get used to again.

August 7, 2012

A Farewell to Luxury

Last week, I bid farewell to an old, loyal friend. No one died, and I didn't defriend him from Facebook over too many political comments. I sold him because I met someone better.

refusing to accept his real age
I sold my first and only car, known by all friends as The Luxury Sedan. It got its fancy name fittingly from its many luxurious features, including manual, roll-up windows and two doors for five seats. The Luxury Sedan was just too luxurious to tolerate electric locks, cruise control or a tachometer.

When I got the car at age 16, I always imagined being the only owner, driving it until it drove no more. But when my grandma recently moved to Florida, she decided not to drive anymore and offered me her car if I'd sell my old friend and give her the money. At first I refused. How could I sell my old, loyal friend for a younger, fancier friend? No way.

August 1, 2012

Hashtag Olympics

No, Mitt Romney! No!
The Olympics are happening as we speak. Every two years we see the world's best athletes in hot and cold sports fly onto our radars and make us yell at the TV with national pride. With the presidential election just around the corner, I'm also yelling at the political ads in between events with national disgust. There's a lot of yelling.

Maybe it's because I went through a journalism and media studies program. Maybe it's because I'm in between work and spend idle summer days flapping around the coup. Maybe it's because of the onslaught of social media adding to the coverage. And maybe it's all three plus low blood sugar, but the commentary and coverage of the events is driving me mad. More yelling!

July 24, 2012

Confessions at Chick-fil-A

Cathy: "Can't marry." ^
Chick-fil-A is in the news both locally and nationally. Nationally, CEO Dan Cathy has reaffirmed his strong opposition to same-sex marriage, reiterating his "Christian" and "Godly" views. But more importantly, a new Chick-fil-A restaurant opened in northern Lakeland, Florida. And if one can make it here, one can make it anywhere! ...or something.

The Lakeland Chick-fil-A countdown was epic. That famous cow showed up in front of the restaurant under construction weeks before the opening, mooing about how soon it would open. Each day, the sign was replaced and each day came 24 hours closer to the grand opening. Lakeland hadn't seen so much excitement since one week earlier, when a new Panda Express opened across the street. The addition of Chick-fil-A would round out Highway 98 as the most American stretch of highway in the nation - housing every reputable chain restaurant, box store and vacant strip mall within a one-mile strip. With the occasional man in an Uncle Sam hat biking with a buggy of free bibles, the image belongs on the back of a coin.

July 19, 2012

Hens in Africa: Jambo!

When our Hens on Ice troop traveled to South Africa to bring the country its first ever Hens on Ice show, none of us in the cast or crew had been to South Africa (except the weird girl from New York who lives in England but has family in South Africa and Dutch roots, she doesn't count). We were all very excited to venture to this foreign land.

None of us pretended we knew much about South Africa. Sadly in most of our educations, African histories are seldom taught, aside from when European men colonized/raped and pillaged the continent when world exploration and pillaging were all the rage. But a few of us did a little research to help us be knowledgable. I learned that Johannesburg is the largest city in the world that is not on a major body of water or river. This fact never came in handy, other than that I knew not to look for a beach. Our friend, Kim, immediately began using "Jambo" as her greeting. I was impressed she learned a useful word in Afrikans, South Africa's other official language besides English. In spite of her pasty skin and red hair, Kim was one step more African than the rest of us.

July 18, 2012

Hens in Africa: A Search for Roots

I should've flown coach.
Hello, or should I say "Jambo?" That is Swahili for hello, but I never heard anyone from South Africa say it. Other African people apparently do.

The Cackling Hen is back after a wild goose chase to find my roots in between Hens on Ice shows. I flew nearly two days to South Africa, the part of Africa furthest from my home (Sometimes a hen needs some space from mother goose, and lots of it). And before rumors start swirling, I flew coach on Delta. Hens can't really fly, and I had to save my wings for the shows. It would be the first time African children, parents and crazed skating fans would see a hen on ice.

June 18, 2012

Flying to Mars

The Cackling Hen is flying to Africa!

Those are words that will never feel natural flying out of my beak unless I move to Africa. It catches everyone off guard the first time, including myself. It continues to throw off the forgetful and friends who don't listen the second, third and fourth times they hear it.

Over the past few weeks, I've told friends and family I would not see them for about a month, as Hens on Ice will be having shows in South Africa for the first time in history, and the company keeps throwing me feed to skate in the shows. Everyone's immediate question is, "Where are you going?" And there is no time to prepare them for my response: "South Africa." Once that last "a" is pronounced, their eyes bulge and mouths open as if I'd said, "Mars."
Where's the arena?

June 3, 2012

A Mini Henplaint

In today's digital age, we make many purchases online. After a few times, I've become accustomed to the same process for buying flights, text books and my support for the less corrupt politician. A key part of forking my money over online is entering that "billing information," including my home address.

It is convenient in today's hustle (and usual bustle) to just type quickly, hit the "tab" key, and continue typing in the next box. On fancy sites, it will even automatically move me over to that next box - no "tab" necessary! Whew.

June 1, 2012

A Day in the Office

What is this crap?
When I returned home for a break from Hens on Ice, I had lofty but seemingly reasonable goals and tasks for my free time. I would only work two days a week part time, so I'd have plenty of time to tackle those boxes in the garage, finish that Lady Gaga-inspired painting and write the next great American novel. But now after over a month at home, the boxes have a year layer of dust, the painting canvas has been dry since 2011 and that novel has a long way to go. Now is the time to publicly address my problem and see where I've gone wrong so that book hits the shelves and that painting hits my wall. The boxes can wait.

It's always easier to point the finger at others and inanimate objects than fully accepting blame and responsibility. So here starts my finger pointing to why I am always doing something but never finishing anything.

May 14, 2012

Life as a Robbie Part III

Daily life as a Robbie is my early 20s is mostly smooth sailing now that I fully accept that I can go by Robbie to everyone I meet, but my legal birth name is Robert. Just because my name is always Robert on airline tickets, college degrees and my driver's license does not make me any less of a Robbie. Now those years of therapy just seem silly.

That's me on the left.

But even as a 26 year old (yes, I said early 20s...) I still run into the unexpected kerfuffle in the name department. Not too surprisingly, my recent name fiasco involved United Airlines. I was about to make a joke involving their "friendly skies" tagline, but evidently they stopped using that slogan in 1996. I don't know what's more staggering - the fact that I stopped paying attention to United's marketing after age 11, or the fact that I paid attention to United's marketing as a child younger than 11.

May 4, 2012

Home with a Bieber Fever

Much of the world has caught a terrible disease - Bieber Fever. Thankfully my vaccination is still holding strong. Here's why he and his disease bother me:

Who's the 3rd clown?
1. Bieber's new song, "Boyfriend." There's no escaping hearing new Bieber songs, and I was even slightly curious. I thought maybe he's growing as an artist and a boy. While he may have grown a few inches, his only growth as an "artist" is sounding identical to Justin Timberlake when he went solo. I even had to question if Timberlake was featured in the song. He's not - just some blatant copycat-ing. Bieber, just because you share the same first name doesn't mean you're Justin Timberlake. Talk to me when you're over 18. (Wait, he's now 18? Okay, don't talk to me.) He even was brazen enough to attempt that Timberlake signature falsetto. On the plus size, his voice finally changed (or they gave a heavy dose of auto tune), but now there is nothing distinct about his voice or the song. If he hadn't already infected us with Bieber Fever, it wouldn't stand out enough to do anything but be a one hit wonder. Too bad, our medical bills have all skyrocketed.

April 29, 2012

Things Only Britney Can Get Away With...

Through the chart-toppers and head shaving, Britney Spears is a pop icon and household name. Like all celebrities, she has her many critics. But she is the enduring Princess of Pop through it all, in spite of not being the best singer, the best dancer, nor the best blonde. She had the "X-Factor" before it was a show, and there's something about that sultry gaze she's given us since "..Baby One More Time" that's hypnotized us to crave hit after hit. Sure, Britney doesn't have the same pipes as Christina, and her videos don't have the Gaga freak look to get the hits, but she established herself as Britney Spears: the diva who can get away with what no other diva can.

April 24, 2012

New Adventures of Old Hens in Portugal

Hens on Ice took the Iberian Peninsula by storm after months of cold and grey climates. The sun was out and we spread out wings to tan our white feathers. We first fluttered through five Spanish cities before crossing the border and visiting Lisbon, Portugal. I will admit I was ignorant to much about Portugal other than it being Spain's thin neighbor to the west. And since Portugal doesn't pop up too often in US news outlets, the last I'd heard about Portugal was from The New Adventures of Old Christine:

April 19, 2012

Odd Ways Hens on Ice Changed My Life

I knew last September that joining Hens on Ice and being part of a major show that tours through Europe would be a life-changing experience in many ways. I expected that I would learn the ins and outs of being part of a professional show, make new friends and see amazing sites in Europe. But here are some things I couldn't predict.

April 4, 2012

Your Seat Only Reclines Three Inches

I just can't get comfortable.
There are many reasons to hate air travel. If the airlines or airports aren't obnoxious enough, plenty of our traveling peers also turn inhumane once they are dumped off at the airport curb. Traveling with Hens on Ice, we've had many international flights and I've gotten more experience observing the travel day pecking order. People who treat the airplane like their living rooms are one special breed of travelers.

March 15, 2012

A Cluck of Silence

These costumes don't fit like they used to...
After high ambitions at the beginning of the new year, The Cackling Hen has now been in the coop far too long. I made a semi-private resolution that I would write the Hen more often, with fear that a public announcement could set me up for public failure to put my money where my beak is. But I also semi-privately resolved to finish anything I started. No more half-finished work and half-baked schemes cluttering my home and mind! But this combination of resolutions backfired - I just never started any more Hen columns.

January 25, 2012

Flicks This Chick Missed Part I

Every rose has its thorns and every hen has its flaws. Evidently this hen clucks when it comes to being hip to the silver screen. I frequently shock other poultry when they are talking about a movie "everyone has seen" and I'm the hen who hasn't. Let me apologize for having ADD and living below the poverty line. I barely have the focus and money for a bowl of ramen noodles, let alone watch something that may or may not be good for two hours. And that tub of popcorn is half my weekly income.

January 17, 2012

Oh, Travel Day Won't Bring Me Down

Hens on Ice entertains thousands of people each week with sparkling artichoke costumes and dance moves on blades. While I'm on this tour, my friends often express jealously of my alleged glamorous life on tour (please stop calling me a bitch on my Facebook wall - my mom's on there when she can turn on the computer). While it does feel glamorous to have a day off in the French Riviera or get paid to be a sparkly artichoke, that glamor doesn't last 24/7. Aside from not speaking French and sweating under that artichoke, one of the least ritzy moments for us hens is travel day, which happens at least once a week. There is nothing snazzy about bus travel.

January 1, 2012

Happy New Spears!

2011 has flown the coup, but not without leaving plenty of stray feathers by which to remember it. A new year comes with a chance to start fresh, make changes in our lives and resolutions we won't keep after January 7. I resolve to finish this post before that date.

Every year, there are countless events throughout the world that catch us by surprise and make us ponder our own existence and the finality of life on earth. The return of Britney Spears in full force after a short hiatus clearly made the most timeless impression, because I dare you to get the chorus of "I Wanna Go" out of your head. Now I wanna go too, wherever the hell it is.