Saturday, December 31, 2022

313 earworms

This was the fourth year that I wrote down every morning what song was stuck in my head when I woke up. The phenomenon still persists, like an internal musical alarm clock, so once again I am sharing the statistics. Because I can.

2018: I woke up with an earworm 306 mornings, featuring 150 different songs (post here)

2019: 316 mornings, 137 songs (post here)

2020: 346 mornings, 149 songs (post here)

2021: 312 mornings, 124 songs (post here)

This year I woke up with music stuck in my head on 313 occasions, featuring a total of 129 different songs. 66 of them only made one appearance, while the rest repeated at least once. I have to reiterate that while the soundtrack has a link to what I listen to, it's not determined by which songs I like the most, or what I heard the day before. There are songs I had on repeat for months and yet I never woke up with them; others I don't even know, but they stuck anyway.

Here's this year's top 5:

First place with 16 mornings (holding last year's record):
(Encanto was already a strong contender last year, but couldn't climb the charts in one month. The beginning of this year, however, was non-stop Encanto bonanza.)

Second place with 14 mornings (no surprise there):

Third place with 10 mornings:
(I mentioned last year that I found this Cinderella unwatchable, but the jukebox soundtrack is incredibly persistent. Apart from this one, I had another 9 mornings with other songs from it.)

Shared fourth place, with 8 mornings each:

This song was a favorite in the summer camps, I like it because it's cheerful and fun to sing:

This one was a favorite of mine to walk to work in the mornings, because it's so happy and fun:

Fifth place, 7 mornings:

This last one wasn't alone; many AJR songs kept repeating over the year. In fact, this year was dominated by a select few persistent albums:

Encanto: 54 mornings (What else can I do 16; Bruno 14; All of you 6; Waiting for a miracle 6; Surface pressure 5; Dos oroguitas 4; Colombia 2; Familia Madrigal 1)

AJR49 mornings (Netflix trip 7, Sober up 5, 100 bad days 5, Bang 5, All my favorite songs 5, Way less sad 4, 3 o'clock things 3, Burn the house down 3, Let the games begin 3, World's smallest violin 3, I'm weak 2, Bud like you 1, Bummerland 1, Dear Winter 1, I'm ready 1)

Alvaro Soler29 mornings (Sofia 8, El mismo sol 5, Eterno agosto 4, Volar 3, El camino 2, Esperandote 2, Mi corazón 2, La libertad 1, Tengo un sentimiento 1, La vida seguirá 1)

In the heights27 mornings (Cold champagne 5, In the heights 4, When you're home 4, It won't be long now 3, Blackout 2, Carnaval del barrio 2, No me diga 2, Paciencia y fe 2, Respira 2, Benny's dispatch 1)

So, more than half of my mornings were taken up by these 4 albums alone.

And, according to tradition, here is this year's WTF contender:

I shall continue in 2023. Do you usually wake up with earworms? What are they? :)

Thursday, December 8, 2022

StorySpotting: Women with their feet backwards (9-1-1)

StorySpotting is a weekly or kinda-weekly series about folktales, tropes, references, and story motifs that pop up in popular media, from TV shows to video games. Topics are random, depending on what I have watched/played/read recently. Also, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Be warned!

9-1-1 is one of those shows that consistently deliver exactly what you expect from them: first responder drama, feel-good moments, kittens and children rescued, and Angela Bassett being an unadulterated badass. Now, with some folklore.

Where was the story spotted?

9-1-1, Season 6, Episode 4 (Animal Instincts)

What happens?

In one scene this episode we see a young girl telling a very animated bedtime story to her mother. It's about an evil ciguapa with backwards feet, threatening a boy in the woods. A brave woodsman and his spotted dog with five toes run to the woods, and chase the ciguapa away.
The girl asks her mother if ciguapas are real. "I don't know. That's what abuela says. I've never seen one." "Not even when you lived in Santo Domingo?" The mother doesn't answer.
Soon after, the girl's abusive father breaks into the home, and she calls 911.

What's the story?

As the girl's words allude to, the ciguapa is a creature of Dominican folklore. It is usually described as beautiful, either tall or petite, hairy or feathered or nude, but most accounts agree it has backwards feet, with the toes pointing towards the back. Because of this, and their elusiveness, the ciguapa are very difficult to track or catch. Beliefs say they can only be captured during the full moon, with the help of a black and white spotted five-toed (cinqueño) dog. Legends also claim that if captured, they die of sadness.

The ciguapa have their origins in pre-European indigenous cultures, and their continued resistance during colonization. They became a very important symbol in Dominical literature, both in children's and adult genres. For example, there is a beautifully illustrated children's book, titled Secret Footprints, about a ciguapa girl who ventures into the world of humans. (In this version of the story - see the image to the left - they live underwater, afraid humans would capture them for their beauty.)

One ciguapa story is recorded by Francisco Javier Angulo Guridi, from the 1860s. In this one, the author encounters a young man who lost his beloved bride to the jealousy of a ciguapa. In his description the ciguapa are an ancient group of beings who live in the heart of the mountains. They are beautiful, with creole skin, dark eyes, and long lustrous hair; they can run like the wind, and leap from tree to tree like a bird. They only communicate with cries and howls, and they are very timid, hiding from humans. However, they get jealous when they see people in love. If a female ciguapa gets jealous, her cry kills the man in love, and if a male ciguapa does the same, the woman dies. In some other legends, the ciguapa seduces humans, drains them through excessive lovemaking, and then kills them.

Sometimes the ciguapa are also accused of other fairy- or trickster-like behaviors, such as stealing food or tangling the mane and tail of horses.

Some legends connect the ciguapa to the Ciguayos, indigenous people who lived on the island. One talks about a princess who retired to the caves in the mountains to avoid being killed by the European colonizers. Her people started walking backwards, as to confuse their pursuers with their tracks.

Apart from the Dominican Republic, the ciguapa also exists in the folklore of Cuba, in a slightly different (black-skinned) version.

You can read more about the ciguapa in this book, or this one.


I am not sure why the writers of 9-1-1 decided to include the ciguapa story in this episode. Maybe it was just to signal the Dominican origin of the characters; maybe it was a folklore parallel to the story of women fleeing danger and persecution. Either way, it was a neat little detail, and it made me go down a research rabbit hole I learned a lot from.