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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Orange Blossom Express

Things I’ve learned this morning:

  • Berry-eating can actually be a really menacing activity
  • Hymenopterists get really mad when you say honey is bee vomit
  • Also, people are arguing about who has the rights to use the name Bee Vomit Honey for their honey products
  • “Honey” and “vomit” are two words that start looking really weird the more you look at them

Etiquette & superstition: bananas

Don’t give me tomatoes, can’t stand ice cream cones. I like bananas because they have no bones.

ETIQUETTE: Usually I respect my etiquette elders, but I recently came across a “rule” on Etiquette Scholar that I cannot agree with – namely, that at a formal meal you should eat a banana with a fork. No. No, and let’s just take this apart right now. Primarily, this supposed rule breaks one of the basic tenets of modern etiquette: don’t be overly precious or fussy. Putting on airs is the opposite of etiquette.

Secondarily, you are not going to be served a whole, uncut raw banana at a formal meal. (I know ES is talking about a whole, uncut raw banana because they also recommend that you place the peel on the side of your plate.) For the sake of argument, however, let’s suppose that someone is hatching up a new cuisine right now that involves very fancy raw banana eating. How do you handle it? I say you partially peel the fruit starting from the stem end (don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong; there’s a reason for this), keeping the banana in your hand, and break a piece off for eating with your other hand. Don’t just peel the fruit and take a bite from the entire banana as a monkey would. That’s just asking to be snickered at.

SUPERSTITION: If you bring a banana on a boat, it’s bad luck and at the very least nobody on the boat will catch any fish. Some fishing boat captains will go so far as to ban Banana Boat sunscreen, Banana Republic clothing and even Fruit of the Loom underwear (the label of which doesn’t happen to have a banana, but whatever). If you happen to find yourself on a fishing boat with any of the aforementioned banana items, and you want to actually catch a fish, toss them overboard and try praying to the Hindu crocodile god Kompira/Konpira:

Oh great Konpira
please, hear my plea
I am sorry for my mistake
A banana I brought to sea

it was an honest gesture
a noble means of nutrition
I had no ill intent
I brought fruit of my own volition

Please forgive my idiocy
I meant my friends no harm
We just want to go fishing
and go home with a sore arm

We beg of you to release the curse
upon which I have brought
In your honor I consume these bananas
a sacrifice all for nought

Photo by Julian Burgess on Flickr

Don’t forget to count Floyd

So yes, last weekend I tried goat yoga – the newest fitness craze that is sweeping the nation.

I’d definitely recommend it, though it was more of a mental health care thing than a physical one. It’s hard not to laugh when a baby goat is on your back adjusting your pose, and all that laughing really does release a ton of pressure and stress. Quite amazing, really.

The goats were more interested in eating shoelaces than trying to count all of us like the little goat in this cartoon, but if they had tried to count us I know we wouldn’t have gotten mad like the other animals in the story. Who gets mad when somebody counts them?

These guys need a little mental health care. I know just the thing that will fix them right up.

I’m your Huckleberry hound

Don’t be alarmed.

This fuzzy gargoyle is named Huckleberry and he has an Instagram feed. Thank you, Huckleberry. Thank you for all you do.

I would give a photo credit for the “don’t be alarmed” notice but I don’t know where this originally came from. Now I’m pondering the etiquette of providing a link to a twitter feed that doesn’t give photo credits. I don’t think I need to provide that link. 
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