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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

Mermaid fins and Spandex are favorites at Mr. USU Pageant

KING OF THE SEA: Mr. USU, Christian Brinton, performs as King Triton from The Little Mermaid at the Mr. USU Pageant. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

By Kathryn Kemp

October 6, 2006 | Mermaids, comedians, dancers on treadmills and Spandex -- lots of Spandex -- could only mean one thing . . . it was time to crown a new Mr. USU.

Wednesday night, Mr. USU 2005 Zach Ames passed on his title to the winner of the mock beauty pageant for men.

The prize: not a crown, but a belt, adorned with a custom-made Mr. USU belt buckle donated by S.E. Needham Jewelers. And of course, the honor of being Mr. USU for a year.

The candidates: Brian Watts, Adam Strong, JR Richins, Kevin Foulger, Bryce Cranney, Kelby Bosshardt, Coy Whittier, Christian Brinton, Taylor Hawkins and Tyler Neal.

The winner: Christian Brinton.

Brinton, who had to compete against the other nine men in four categories-swimwear, talent, formal wear and question and answer-was overjoyed as he held his arms in the air while Ames put the belt on him.

"It is one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life!" he said. "It's like going down a really long slide. It's the excited feeling in your stomach."

Brinton said he isn't even sure why he won. In each category it seemed something went wrong with his act, whether it was his swimsuit that didn't fit right, or the CD that kept skipping during his talent.

"The best part was the part I didn't even practice, and that was my interview," he said.

Ames said he knows why Brinton won. "No inhibition. He just went for it and gave it his all," he said.

Brinton, a junior majoring in international business, was also voted by the other contestants as Mr. Congeniality. "He's hilarious!" said contestant Hawkins, "Everyone likes him."

Even though Brinton doesn't know why he won, somewhere along the line he stood out to the six judges. In the swimsuit competition he looked suspiciously like King Triton from Disney's The Little Mermaid, when he came out wearing a shiny blue fish tail and carrying a tinfoil trident- long white beard included.

Bryce Cranney, above, won over the judges with his coconut brassiere. Below, Mr. USU 2005, Zach Ames, at left, performs during intermission. At bottom, skier Kevin Foulger performs his talent on the trampoline, and Brinton reacts to being named Mr. USU. / Photo of Brinton by Kathryn Kemp; all others by Brianna Mortensen

He became a blonde, but still curly haired, Richard Simmons for his talent.

Dressed in a patriotic ensemble of blue shorts and a white tank top over a red t-shirt, Brinton (or Simmons?) and three back-up dancers performed a popular dance from the LDS church's Especially For Youth Program, referred to as the PB&J dance because the actions imitate eating a sandwich.

He then invited the audience to participate.

"Say, 'I'm beautiful!'" he commanded them. "Say it!"

"I'm beautiful!" they shouted back. He then told "his story" through a rendition of "Part of that World" from The Little Mermaid, making up his own words about his desires to be strong and wear spandex.

"You want phalanges," he sang, "I've got twenty! But who cares, no big deal, I want more!"

For the final event, formal wear and question and answer, Brinton toned it down a bit. He tangoed out with his escort in a black tuxedo, and then sat across from Miss Utah, Heather Anderson, who was reading the questions.

His question . . . what is your best physical feature and why?

"My body...that's a physical feature right?

He changed his mind, and thought about it for a minute. "No...no...no..." Then finally, "my legs! No...yeah, my legs!" He said it is because he likes to play soccer and kick the ball "really hard, preferably in the goal." And he likes to run "really, super fast."

Feeling good about his answer he removed his jacket as he walked off stage...revealing a sign on his back that read, "Miss Utah thinks I'm hot!"

While each contestant in each category received thunderous support and applause from the audience, there was only one part of the competition that received a standing ovation. It wasn't given to any of the contestants or even to Brinton when he won. Instead, it went to hosts Emily Mueller and Zach Ames, along with Staci Meacham and Jake Roskelley.

While waiting for the judges to make their decision, the group dressed in workout clothes and sweatbands and performed a synchronized dance on eight new treadmills, donated by ICON Health and Fitness,...while the treadmills were running.

The dance was an imitation of a music video found on www.youtube.com and involved jumping between the treadmills, walking across all of them, and some fancy footwork...all while the treadmills were moving.

Although that was one of the audience's favorite performances, there were several costumes and talents in each category worth noting.

From the scuba suit worn by Neal to the arm floaties, fairy wings and tiara covered in glitter worn by Richins, nothing was too extreme for these guys in the swimwear competition. But in the end, Cranney won the judges over for this category.

He was carried on stage flipping a shiny silver mermaid fin while he primped his long blonde hair (a wig) and adjusted his coconut bra. When he reached center stage, he was lifted straight up into the air while he kicked his tail back and forth.

The talent competition showed a lot of variety and a lot of spandex.

"I have to say something about these guys. I have never seen so much spandex backstage!" said Mueller, who co-hosted the pageant with Ames.

About half of the contestants did a dance number of some sort and the majority of those dancers wore black spandex pants with glitter tops or colorful spandex tights under shorts. But even with the common clothing, the dances were all unique.

Aside from the dances, the talent act featured two guitarists, a comedian and a skier. Strong and Cranney both sang original songs while they played the guitar.

Strong sang about the woes of being skinny, asking people not to forget about the skinny people in their lives. "It's not easy being 6'3", a buck-fifty-with shoes on..." he sang.

Cranney's song got a lot of mixed reactions, as he sang about the uniqueness of Utah girls. Bleached blonde hair ratted in the back and "Utah-looking thighs" were some of the ways he described them. Each verse listed something else that made Utah girls a little different, many of the descriptions funny, but not so flattering.

"Utah girls are crazy as heck!" he sang.

"I was looking for a wedding band. God bless Utah, the promised land!" he said sarcastically in the chorus.

"There's no way he can win from drinking that much 'Haterade,'" said Benji King, an audience member.

Before announcing the next number, Mueller returned to the stage, commenting, "I'm a Utah girl."

All of the talents received a lot of applause, but it was skier Foulger 's talent that won in that category. The curtains opened and there stood Foulger, on a full-size trampoline with skis strapped to his feet. He asked for the audience's help in singing "Jingle Bells" while he did jumps and flips in the air from the trampoline. On his final flip, he spun to the side and almost didn't land back on the trampoline, but he recovered to the cheers of the crowd.

As Foulger walked off stage, Ames said, "That was flippin' sweet!"

The formal wear and question and answer portion went together. Each contestant was escorted on stage, where they showed off their outfit, and then sat down next to Miss Utah, who asked them a question. Sometimes it was the answers that stood out, and sometimes it was the choice of formal wear.

Cranney appeared dressed head to toe as a pilgrim, with a Native American man next to him dressed in a loin cloth. It wasn't the answer to his question that left an impression.

On the other hand, Bosshardt was dressed in a simple sweater and tie, but said the smell that best describes him is fresh laundry because "you just wanna grab it and hang on!"

Strong, dressed in pants that were only as long as his shins and a mismatched suit coat, won the formal competition. His question and answer: What piece of playground equipment would you be and why? He would be the swing.

Swinging his arm back and forth and up and down like a swing, he said, "In life we have times when we're back here and a little bit low and sometimes we're up here and a little bit high. When we're down here, we just gotta wait until we're up here."

The winner of each category received a gift back with an Aggie water bottle, a pennant, blanket and Frisbee.

Brinton will reign as Mr. USU over the next year, doing whatever it is that Mr. USU does. As former Mr. USU, Ames isn't worried about Brinton holding the title.

"Christian's a great guy," he said. "It's in good hands."

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Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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