Mario. The name will be familiar to any fans of the Super Mario Brothers franchise. Before we talk about his looks, his personality, and the sounds he makes, I want to look at his life before he went on his important quest to save a princess called Peach and restore peace to the Mushroom Kingdom. I do this because whenever we label something (or someone) as “cute,” it is usually due to its appearance and how it makes people react. But Mario and his brother Luigi have a history. They have day jobs as plumbers. They are great at fixing pipes, especially green ones, allowing them to travel efficiently. Others in the Mushroom Kingdom count on them to fix their problems, and the bros never turn down a request. Their journey often fails; it depends on gamers trying over and over to get them to their goal. Mario and Luigi are only as determined as we are. At those most crucial moments, we are Mario and Mario is us. Our goals become one, clearing every level toward success. Characters such as Mario are “coute” because they have a deeper meaning beyond an attractive appearance. To me, they represent ordinary people with extraordinary abilities, inside out. I know it is just a game for people to get hooked on, but the motive behind it is complex. That is, nothing is impossible when you let your one- of-a-kind mentality shine through. Eventually, others will get your ideas and accept them as their own. Mario’s existence is as eager as that of us bloggers, and as coute as plumbers.


Cassette tapes. I still have many of them stacked neatly on my bookshelf. I like their rectangular cases and the way they open up like little drawers. Taking the cassette out, I hear the sound of loosened tape tinkling against the otherwise empty plastic shell. I like to open and close the case repeatedly, just to hear the sound of the bumps on either side of the outer shell sliding back and forth, into and out of their slots. This is coute, because the mechanism serves its purpose wholly. Its existence catches our attention. Then there is the booklet that comes with every cassette, and which contains all the lyrics of all the songs on that tape. I used to wonder who actually folded those lyrics sheets so that they could fit so perfectly inside, because not every lyric sheet is folded the same way. Whenever I spread out a lyric sheet, I always trace the way the sheet was originally folded. It is fascinating. Back in the day, when my cousin told told me that those two square tabs at the top of a cassette were there to protect it from being recorded over, I immediately went to my cassette collection and took off all the tabs. I felt like I had just discovered another of a cassette’s magical functions, and it led me on a treasure hunt. Cassettes express the detail-orientation of couteness.   

Dance Fever

I took this video during the 2010 International Expo in Shanghai. Many shops were open till very late, there were tons of people, and the weather was humid. I found these little guys at a local souvenir shop. Just look at them, they speak for themselves. Instead of “cute,” I call them coute, because their funny movements had a sense of purpose. Their eyes stared into space, but they were clearly determined to “shake it.” And they were shaking it like there was no tomorrow. I suggest that the middle donkey was the most “into it.” Their movements, though not professional, still got a lot of attention from shoppers. Couteness shines even in the darkest alley.

Bottoms Up!

 Okay, let’s talk butts. Yes, butts. Not your butt or my butt, not sexy butts or nasty butts. I am talking about coute butts. And just what, you might ask, makes a butt coute? Have you ever seen a penguin’s butt, a squirrel’s butt, a corgi’s butt, a koala’s butt? One part of being a coutie is to pay attention to things that may be ignored by others. Yes, I agree, all of those butts are “cute,” but they are more than just that. First of all, their shape is round, which is a couteness plus, but not all things round are coute. In the case of the butt, however, roundness with a certain length of fuzz is key. When I say fuzz, I am talking about the kind that has resistance when you touch it. Not the kind that, when you touch it, is so soft you don’t feel anything. Chinchillas, for example, are super coute; not because of their butts, but because of their faces. The face of a chinchilla shows the limitless spectrum of its own purpose. Below are a few butts that exemplify couteness. See and judge for yourself.

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