B-A-N-A-N-A-S

I don’t know. I think I might have stayed on the island.

Published in: on June 25, 2017 at 10:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Etiquette & superstition: Midsummer

Phew. That was a thing. Was the summer solstice yesterday, or the day before? The argument got so heated that I decided not to touch it in favor of Midsummer. Midsummer is Saturday, and Midsummer’s Eve is Friday. Wanna fight about it?

ETIQUETTE: If you’re going to have a Midsummer party, you need to have a few things on the menu. You can mess around with a few options, but don’t mess around with the basics. You need to serve new potatoes, pickled herring, and the season’s first strawberries. Beer and schnapps to drink. Seriously. Don’t mess around.

SUPERSTITION: Oh geez. Midsummer. Such a busy time. On Midsummer’s Eve:

  • Pick a rose, and it will stay fresh until Christmas
  • Pick seven different kinds of flowers and put them under your pillow, and you’ll dream of your future mate
  • Light a bonfire on Midsummer’s Eve so the apple crop won’t spoil
  • Stuff a wheel with straw, light it on fire, and roll it down the hill. If the wheel stays lit all the way down, you’ll have a good harvest this year
  • Pen up the cattle and walk around the pen three times while carrying a torch if you want to avoid them getting diseased or visited by evil forces
  • Hope it doesn’t rain because if it does, your filberts are going to be spoiled.
Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Edwin Landseer

Well, well, well

Water in a stop-motion film is one of the best things ever. A dancing bread squirrel isn’t too bad either.

Part 2 (since this is originally a Grimm tale, I’m wondering if the mud is standing in for something worse):

Published in: on June 17, 2017 at 7:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Word of the day for Thursday, June 15th

My somethingth high school reunion is coming up next week, and while I’ve decided not to go, the occasion has obviously dredged up a lot of memories. Mostly bad ones. The terrible job I did as yearbook co-editor (yes, there were line drawings in the yearbook that year). Slighting people that considered me a friend. Being left in a dangerous position with a bad outcome by people I considered friends. Transferring into a class just so I could be lab partners with a boy I had a crush on, and doing really badly in that class as a result. Lying to a trusted teacher. And of course, getting in some serious trouble with the law as a result of following somebody I thought was a real cool genius who I only much later figured out was an

ultracrepidarian, when he stated with authority that the moon was about 5,000 miles away from the Earth. Ultracrepidarian: one who is presumptuous and offers advice or opinions beyond one’s sphere of knowledge.

I actually have a good excuse regarding scheduling for why I’m not going to this reunion, but the fact is that I’m too scared to re-enter that environment and potentially discover that I haven’t really grown up that much from the dumb kid I was so long ago. Oh well. At least I know that the moon isn’t 5,000 miles away.

Huey, Dewey, ptooey

Yesterday was Donald Duck’s 83rd birthday  and I didn’t hear a thing about it. Sorry, Donald. Let me rectify that by posting your debut cartoon. Of special interest to viewers may be the depiction of duck toes and also the curious phenomenon of baby chicks wearing shoes.

Across the universe

I was minding my own business this weekend when suddenly I found myself in someone’s garden

and I forgot where I was.

Was I in India?


Indonesia?


Grandma Prisbey’s Bottle Village?

Nope. I was at the Haunted Shack Gardens in Pasadena, made by the artist Shrine. And as I usually do in incredibly beautiful places, I got overwhelmed by everything and took terrible photos. I don’t have a single full image of Shrine’s house, which is covered in an elaborate geometric design. No. I got stuck on what the designs were fabricated with:

 
Sorry. That’s how things go with me. If you want to get a better idea of what this amazing place looks like, and what a real artist can do with a bunch of old garden hoses and rusty bottlecaps and old nitrous canisters,


go to Shrine’s Instagram page where he’s posted some good photos of his place and a lot of his other amazing art pieces too.

Tic tac row

Tic tac toe starts the trouble, tic tac toe ends the trouble. Oops – spoiler alert.

Published in: on June 3, 2017 at 9:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bee’s knees

It’s that time of time of year again, when ESPN presents live coverage of an event where warriors exclaim, “Aw, darn it!” at the moment of their defeat. Yes, it’s the Scripps National Spelling Bee. And it can’t be here too soon.

At a time when the leader of the free world makes up words and can’t even fess up to a typo, where his supporters insist that he didn’t make a mistake but was actually speaking in code or in Arabic, I am supremely grateful for these young champions who care about words and their spelling and their meaning and their history. I salute them all, but in particular I’d like to give special recognition to:

  • Erin Howard, who has updated the “spelling the word out in the air with your finger” technique with her invisible keyboard
  • Varad Mulay, the tricky little tricker who asked for a word’s country of origin, its meaning, and then, “Can I have the spelling, please?”
  • Tejas Muthusamy, who is carrying a lucky rock and also spelled the word “bumicky” without cracking up
  • Paul Hamrick, who in his official profile photo looks like a child actor in a British Angry Young Man film from the ’60s
  • Nike-sponsored Shourav Dasari, who is the oldest and coolest on stage. Gets up, spells the word right, spins around
  • 6-year-old Edith Fuller, who didn’t make it to the finals but she still qualified for the Nationals and that’s kind of a big deal so there. Also her favorite animal is a cheetah

Hats off to you all, young ladies and gentlemen. I hope and pray that this year’s winning word isn’t “covfefe.”

Published in: on June 1, 2017 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mama don’t allow no political allegories in here

I’ve been trying to find more information about the nursery rhyme “There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe.” Apparently it’s not just a cute poem about a mother who starves and whips her children. It might be about King George II, it might be about George’s wife Caroline, it might be about the US when it was still a British colony.

I like this cartoon version where she feeds them and doesn’t beat them, and all she does when it gets to be a bit too much is drink some cider. It doesn’t make much historical sense, and yes, she’s probably going to become an alcoholic if this is her only coping mechanism, but it’s nice to see that those kids aren’t being hindered in their desire to throw down a stomping beat.

I now pronounce you

The other day I was listening to a podcast where two guys were talking about how they just realized they had been pronouncing the word “diphtheria” wrong their entire lives, and the first one that realized it only happened upon it when spellcheck corrected their “diptheria” attempt. “It’s pronounced diff-theria, not dip-theria, people. The first h isn’t silent.” And then they laughed that somebody would think that the first h could actually be silent. They were assuming that everybody else was misspelling the word too.

I immediately went, “Wait. What?” because I did think that first h was silent, and I did know that it was there in the word. I was a little skeptical, so I looked it up. And yeah. It’s diff-theria. “But what about those other ‘diph’ words? Like diphthong? You know – dip-thong.” And what do you know? It’s diff-thongHuh.

But you know what? I’m going to continue to continue pronouncing these as dip-theria and dip-thong, because 1) the “dip” form is noted in the dictionary as a secondary pronunciation, and 2) saying “diff” sounds kind of jerky and smug to me right now. Some words are like that. I know how to pronounce them correctly, but there’s something really snooty-seeming about doing so.

Here are some other words I know how to pronounce correctly but will continue to pronounce incorrectly until something big happens to change my mind:

  • karaoke
  • ukulele
  • Chan Marshall
  • Van Gogh
  • masseuse
  • New Orleans
  • lingerie
  • bona fides
  • forte
  • fracas
  • gimcrack
  • tinnitus

How about you? Please don’t say “sherbert.” I beg you.

Published in: on May 24, 2017 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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