Archive | January 14, 2013

Miss America 2013: From pageant shaming to Honey Boo Boo, the night’s memorable moments

Miss New York, Mallory Hytes Hagan, earned a $50,000 scholarship and became Miss America 2013. The 23-year-old from Brooklyn, NY, deftly answered a controversial interview question about the role of armed guards in schools before defeating runners-up Miss South Carolina, Ali Rogers, and Miss Oklahoma, Alicia Clifton.

Co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet looked fit and happy as she briefly discussed her recent triumph over thyroid cancer. Chris Harrison of “The Bachelor” fame joined her, bringing a dose of his sardonic hosting humor.
Miss Iowa’s interview oopsieThe pressure of answering a broad, topical question in only 20 seconds often leads contestants to deliver awkwardly entertaining sound bites, but Miss Iowa made a painful flub. While trying to support the use of medical marijuana, she made a jumbled statement about “recreational use in health care.”


Yikes! Miss Iowa, who happens to be named Mariah Cary, finished as the fourth runner-up.



ABC’s America’s Choice

This year’s competition included an online component, and voters chose Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman, as their favorite Miss America contestant. She is the first woman with autism to compete in the Miss America pageant. #MissMontana took Twitter by storm and rallied supporters.


Honey Boo Boo conquers Miss America

Little Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson steps into the spotlight yet again! Miss Georgia mentioned the pageant diva during her introduction, saying, “From the state that celebrates diversity — from Scarlett O’Hara to Honey Boo Boo — I’m Leighton Jordan, Miss Georgia.”


Judge Cheryl Burke later posed an interview question about the way reality TV shows such as “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Toddlers in Tiaras” portray the pageant world. Miss Oklahoma, Alicia Clifton, suggested viewers take Honey Boo Boo with a grain of salt.


Viva tap dancing!

Although a giant piano hogged the stage, three of the 10 remaining contestants tap danced during the talent portion. When viewed on TV, the fancy footwork can look more like a round of Wii Fit than artistry. But Miss Oklahoma worked it and won a $2,000 Amway scholarship.


Pageant shaming

The pageant moved along at a brisk pace, but it came with a harsh vibe, as the co-hosts repeatedly rushed the contestants to change for the next segment. (Mentioning the Amway changing tent didn’t help, either.) After being herded around, the eliminated contestants sat on stage and watched the remaining Miss America hopefuls perform.

Somehow, there was plenty of time to give a demo of Brooke’s new workout DVD. She led the eliminated contestants through a series of moves not suited for their formal attire or crowded stage.


Later, the co-hosts jokingly bantered about the contestants being deprived of carbs, and Chris sent a round of doughnuts to the eliminated contestants sitting on the stage. The tacky gag prompted Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron, to tweet, “Yes, please keep feeding into the stereotype that we don’t eat.”

Fla. ‘python challenge’ draws about 800 hunters

An armed mob set out into the Florida Everglades on Saturday to flush out a scaly invader.

It sounds like the second act of a sci-fi horror flick but, really, it’s pretty much Florida’s plan for dealing with an infestation ofBurmese pythons that are eating their way through a fragile ecosystem.

Nearly 800 people signed up for the month-long “Python Challenge” that started Saturday afternoon. The vast majority — 749 — are members of the general public who lack the permits usually required to harvest pythons on public lands.

“We feel like anybody can get out in the Everglades and figure out how to try and find these things,” said Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “It’s very safe, getting out in the Everglades. People do it all the time.”

Twenty-eight python permit holders also joined the hunt at various locations in the Everglades. The state is offering cash prizes to whoever brings in the longest python and whoever bags the most pythons by the time the competition ends at midnight Feb. 10.

Dozens of would-be python hunters showed up for some last-minute training in snake handling Saturday morning at the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie.

The training came down to common sense: Drink water, wear sunscreen, don’t get bitten by anything and don’t shoot anyone.

Many of the onlookers dressed in camouflage, though they probably didn’t have to worry about spooking the snakes. They would have a much harder time spotting the splotchy, tan pythons in the long green grasses and woody brush of the Everglades.

“It’s advantage-snake,” mechanical engineer Dan Keenan concluded after slashing his way through a quarter-mile of scratchy sawgrass, dried leaves and woody overgrowth near a campsite in the Big Cypress National Preserve, which is about 50 miles southeast of Naples and is supervised by the National Park Service.

Keenan, of Merritt Island, and friend Steffani Burd of Melbourne, a statistician in computer security, holstered large knives and pistols on their hips, so they’d be ready for any python that crossed their path. The snakes can grow to more than 20 feet in length.

The most useful tool they had, though, was the key fob to their car. Burd wanted to know that they hadn’t wandered too far into the wilderness, so Keenan clicked the fob until a reassuring beep from their car chirped softly through the brush.

The recommended method for killing pythons is the same for killing zombies: a gunshot to the brain, or decapitation to reduce the threat. (The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn’t approve of the latter method, though.)

Pythons are kind of the zombies of the Everglades, though their infestation is less deadly to humans. The snakes have no natural predators, they can eat anything in their way, they can reproduce in large numbers and they don’t belong here.

Florida currently prohibits possession or sale of the pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans the importation and interstate sale of the species.

Wildlife experts say pythons are just the tip of the invasive species iceberg. Florida is home to more exotic species of amphibians and reptiles than anywhere else in the world, said John Hayes, dean of research for the University of Florida’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Roughly 2,050 pythons have been harvested in Florida since 2000, according to the conservation commission. It’s unknown exactly how many are slithering through the wetlands.

Officials hope the competition will help rid the Everglades of the invaders while raising awareness about the risks that exotic species pose to Florida’s native wildlife.

Keenan and Burd emerged from the Everglades empty-handed Saturday, but they planned to return Sunday, hoping for cooler temperatures that would drive heat-seeking snakes into sunny patches along roads and levees.

Burd still deemed the hunt a success. “For me, I take back to my friends and community that there is a beautiful environment out here. It’s opening the picture from just the python issue to the issue of how do we protect our environment,” she said.