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December 4, 2005

Open thread 55
Posted by Patrick at 06:19 PM *

Haines asked:
— Do you pay rent for this tower?
— Twelve quid, Buck Mulligan said.
— To the secretary of state for war, Stephen added over his shoulder. They halted while Haines surveyed the tower and said at last:
— Rather bleak in wintertime, I should say. Martello you call it?
— Billy Pitt had them built, Buck Mulligan said, when the French were on the sea. But ours is the omphalos.
— What is your idea of Hamlet? Haines asked Stephen.
— No, no, Buck Mulligan shouted in pain. I’m not equal to Thomas Aquinas and the fiftyfive reasons he has made out to prop it up. Wait till I have a few pints in me first.
Comments on Open thread 55:
#1 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:04 PM:

I've just read the instructions on a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner. The instructions note that you'll need:

6c. water
4 Tbsp. spread or margarine
1/4 c. milk

What on earth is 'spread' in this context? Something like the English 'dripping'?

I'm using butter just to spite them.

#2 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:24 PM:

Amazon is eating our descenders!

I've just followed the particles link to "The Way We Wish We Were" which leads to an Amazon book preview. I got distracted when I noticed that the bulk of the descender on every 'y' and to an extent on the 'g's as well has been clipped.

It would be hard to think of anything less important to say, but it's early in the life of an open thread and it's bugging me, so there you are.

#3 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:27 PM:

In the UK, "spread" is widely used to refer to vegetable-oil based products intended as butter substitutes. Don't know about anywhere else.

On a related note, if I were following a US recipe that called for "half-and-half", what would that be a reference to?

#4 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:28 PM:

[Reading a Kraft Mac and Cheese Box]

What on earth is 'spread' in this context? Something like the English 'dripping'?

"Spread" is a product functionally similar to margarine, made as far as I know from vegetable oil, that somehow doesn't meet the technical definition of "margarine".

Butter is a fine idea, as long as you accompany it with some red wine to counteract the effects of the cholesterol. You are already showing your relative good taste by using real Kraft M&C instead of the generic equivalent.

#5 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:30 PM:

On a related note, if I were following a US recipe that called for "half-and-half", what would that be a reference to?

Probably the dairy product that is half milk and half cream, used in coffee, etc., as a lower-fat alternative to cream.

#6 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:34 PM:

"Spread" would be "margarine," a word that has always had an aura of the refinery yard about it. (I'm reasonably sure that at one time the Kraft Blue Box said "margarine.") And, long ago, margarine ads called the competition "the high-priced spread," as if they feared that to speak the name of butter in their product's hearing would cause it to deliquesce in shame.

And don't get me started on Vileveeta, which is now being sold for its melting qualities, which it shares with paraffin wax.

#7 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:35 PM:

Jules,

Half-and-half is the dairy product that some Americans put into their coffee. Heavier than milk, lighter than cream.

So you use half cream, half milk you'd be just right.

Although for some recipes you can get away with just milk if you don't have cream. Or use all cream if you don't feel like fussing with adding the milk. Depends upon the recipe, really, as to what you can get away with as far as substitutions.

#8 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:39 PM:

And here I thought plagiarism was passé:

http://www.nypress.com/18/48/news&columns/RobertClarkYoung.cfm

I'll say it again; I think most plaigiarists are habitual plagiarists; we just don't catch them the first few times.

#9 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:41 PM:

"Half and half" is what I've seen in UK markets as "coffee cream." (And to be specific, it would be half whole milk, half single cream. In Europe one acquires a vocabulary of dairy goods that's hardly ever called upon in the US, except perhaps at a really good cheese shop, which fortunately I have.)

#10 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:44 PM:

Vileveeta, indeed. The current commercial ("make an artery-clogging high-sodium dip by mixing Vileveeta and canned chili and microwaving until gloppy, then serve it to relatives you're hoping to inherit from...sooner rather than later") is disgusting enough at TiVo's three-arrow speed that I hate to think about what it's like to watch in real time.

#11 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:47 PM:

I was called upon to explain the concept "double cream" to the Americans on a mailing list last week, in the context of making Real Custard. 48% fat. That got a few people drooling. :-)

#12 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:52 PM:

Oh, and today's kitchen antics include nuking a jar full of olive oil and rosemary, as per the listening to habeneros thread. One of the rosemary plants had a short-back and sides today, and I seem to have rather a lot of rosemary to process as a result. There's *still* a bagful of the stuff. Results will be reported later in the week.

#13 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:52 PM:

Half-and-half has roughly the butterfat of a mix of light cream and milk. A close substitute in the UK would be equal parts milk and single cream mixed together.


A rough table of US butterfat content in dairy products, with some comparisons in brackets:

whole milk: 3.5% butterfat
half-and-half: 11% butterfat
light cream: 18% butterfat, though the rules say between 18 and 30%.
[single cream, UK]: 20% butterfat
light whipping cream: 30-36% butterfat.
heavy cream: 36% butterfat (or more, in theory)
[double cream, UK]: 48% butterfat. Or more.
butter (US): 80% butterfat
butter (European style): 85-90% butterfat

If anyone could tell me of a US source for double cream, I'd be deeply grateful.

#14 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:57 PM:

John M. Ford: Kraft uses 'spread' in opposition to 'margarine'. I'm worried that perhaps they've invented something that's not good enough to legally be called margarine. Like 'oleo', only worse.

#15 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:05 PM:

Maybe "spread" is The Lard That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

#16 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:15 PM:

According to my father, the reason behind not using the word "butter" in margarine commercials was legal: they weren't allowed to do so. So they used to get as close to the B-word as they could without actually using it. (And now I'm going crazy, trying to remember one of the jingles -- I know it ended with something like "Tastes so good, you won't know it's not -- better!", but I can't remember the first bit.)

I haven't been able to find a reference for this, but I have found a number of "history of margarine" sites which discuss the dairy lobby's fight against margarine and the fact that yellow margarine was illegal in many states. The manufacturers sold little bags of dye for people to knead into it, to get around the restrictions. It also led to a trade in bootleg colored margarine.

#17 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:18 PM:

As a balance to the discussion of high-fat dairy products, I'll note that Kraft M&C tastes and looks pretty much the same if you only use half the magarine/butter/whatever. (I always assumed that "spread" referred to the "spreadable" versions of margarine). Similarly, the boxed stuffing products (bread crumbs and spices, just add water and butter/margarine) work just fine without any added fat whatsoever.

#18 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:35 PM:

The Feds define what's margarine: 21CFR166

Margarine (or oleomargarine) is the food in plastic form or liquid emulsion, containing not less than 80 percent fat determined by the method prescribed in ``Official Methods of Analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists,'' 13th Ed. (1980), section 16.206, ``Indirect Method,'' under the heading ``Fat (47)--Official Final Action,'' which is incorporated by reference.
Most of the "spreads" have less than 80% fat. "Spread" doesn't have a legal definition. I suspect the fat requirement was a consumer protection item, to keep the margarine from being diluted with fillers. In this low-fat era, of course, people aren't bothered by not getting their fat's worth.

#19 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:37 PM:

To add to the list of dairy variations, I saw in the grocery store just yesterday:

Fat-free half-n-half

and

Fat-free buttermilk

Say What? I thought the whole purpose of buttermilk was to have fat in your milk. Not to mention the reason behind half-n-half is to have cream (fat) in your what-evers. *ghak*

#20 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:42 PM:

Velveeta + salsa in a jar + microwave = queso, an old Texas delicacy, like Frito Pie.

Now they sell commercial versions. But for the authentic stuff, you have to make it yourself.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:48 PM:

Question for comic-book fans... Remember the Marvel cartoon show of the mid-Sixties that rotated Captain America, the Hulk, Thor and the Submariner? What were the lyrics for Captain America's episodes? I think the first two lines went like this:

When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
All those who oppose him must yield...

Anybody remembers the rest?

#22 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:57 PM:

Serge: They're on this page (which also contains a wav file); here is an mp3 of it

But since it's so short:

When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
All those who chose oppose his shield must yield.

If he's lead to a fight and a duel is due,
Then the red and white and the blue'll come through.

When Captain America throws his mighty shield.

#23 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 09:07 PM:

So what IS in fat-free half-and-half?

#24 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 09:10 PM:

According to my father, the reason behind not using the word "butter" in margarine commercials was legal: they weren't allowed to do so.
An awfully long time ago, when margarine first emerged from the primordial soup, I had a nutritionist aunt who told us that Daffodil brand margarine was required by law to change its packaging. Apparently the image of a daffodil on the tub looked like a daisy, and Daisy is a common name for a cow, and it was just a couple of short logical steps to a suggestion that margarine was in some way related with butter. My aunt must have been telling the truth because soon after that she joined the Carmelites and hasn't been seen outside the wall since.

#25 ::: Simstim ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 09:16 PM:

I don't know if it's limited to a UK-ism, but "half and half" refers to chips (fries) and rice over here.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 09:27 PM:

Thanks, Bruce... You know what's strange about Captain America? They're not working on any movie based on the character. Sure, there was the 1991 movie, but it wasn't exactly a masterwork, although its heart was in the right place. But there's a web site that tracks down all comic-book-related movie projects and, while Marvel has Cap on its list, it's way at the bottom. Maybe people think Cap's kind of patriotism would not play well today, or that it'd be seen as jingoistic. Mind you, this is a character who, in the comics, got so disgusted with what was going on with Nixon that he went on the road to rediscover America.

#27 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 09:33 PM:

> Lin Daniel: I thought the whole purpose of buttermilk was to have fat in your milk.

Axly, I think buttermilk is innately low-fat - it's what you have after you've churned the butter out of milk or cream.

I hadn't realized it's also fermented, so it's lower in sugar than regular milk.

http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/BUTTERMILK.HTM

#28 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 09:46 PM:

"If anyone could tell me of a US source for double cream, I'd be deeply grateful."

Well, here in NYC, Dean & Deluca. Or Garden of Eden. Or the Whole Foods chain, which is also present in plenty of other US cities.

There's a reason they call us Decadent Cosmopolitans.

#29 ::: Maggie ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 09:47 PM:

So what IS in fat-free half-and-half?

My sister and I have pondered this question in a slightly different form that's probably the result of too much Gilbert and Sullivan: "What's the other half?"

We're convinced it's clowns. Or unobtainium.

#30 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:05 PM:

I have yet to see double cream at Trader Joe's, but they carry Normandy-style butter. Definitely worth a try, especially if you've fresh-baked bread to hand.

Jonathan Shaw: My aunt must have been telling the truth because soon after that she joined the Carmelites and hasn't been seen outside the wall since.

If you'd like specific references, here's one of the repealed Canadian statues, which includes a Misleading Advertising section. As for the States, there's a surprisingly large body of constitutional interpretation relating to dairy and pseudo-dairy products. From a case decided in 1902: "And it was further forbidden, in the marking, to use any words or combination of words indicating that the article was either butter, cream, or dairy product. This statute is compiled in Bates's Annotated Statutes of Ohio, 4200-30." (link)

I'm assuming the specific advertising limitations I'm thinking of were at a state level rather than Federal, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to doubt their existance, especially given the exciting history of the dairy lobby's long fight against artificial butter-like substances. These are the people who managed to get states to pass laws requiring that margarine be dyed pink, after all.

#31 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:07 PM:

The classic additive to melted Velveeta isn't chili, or even salsa; it's Ro-tel brand diced tomatoes and green chilies.

#32 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:08 PM:

Isn't "oleo" just the Southern U.S. shortening of oleomargarine? (Sorry, pun intended.) My grandmother used to say it; she also called the toilet the "commode."

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:12 PM:

Margarine vs dairy: Brummel & Brown Spread has yogurt (a noticeable amount) in it. Gives it real 'dairy flavor', as opposed to what the stuff otherwise tastes like. It still doesn't taste like butter, though.

#34 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:34 PM:

The fat-free dairy products usually have some sort of thickener like carrageenan to replace the fat.

#35 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:36 PM:

Once upon a time, restaurants had to obtain and display a "Margerine Certificate" so there'd be no chance they could get away with switching the sinister pretender oleo as butter.

#36 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:44 PM:

Okay, I have a question for the cooking cognoscenti. To me, whipping cream and heavy cream are basically the same thing - 35% butterfat (after four years of living in the US, it still drives me crazy that dairy products aren't labeled with the fat content, and Victor S, I so appreciate your chart - thanks!). So I was a little confused when I found myself in the Whole Foods looking at containers labeled 'Whipping Cream' and 'Heavy Cream.' Aha, I told myself, I'll look at the nutritional information, and that will allow me to estimate their butterfat content. Well, as far as I could tell, they were calorically equivalent. So I bought one of them (the whipping cream, I imagine), took it home - and it totally failed to whip up. Cold beaters, cold metal bowl, hand mixer, big puddle of slightly thickened cream (which still tasted yummy poured over mixed berries with Triple Sec and mint). Can anyone tell me what I'm missing? I've been whipping up cream for most of my life, so I'm pretty confident in my technique. Any thoughts as to why it failed? Do both 'whipping cream' and 'heavy cream' whip up to soft peaks?

#37 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:46 PM:

I remember standing at the dairy section of the small (commuter style) Sainsbury's around the corner from our flat in London this summer the day before we left for Glasgow and coming close to weeping because of the selection of different milks/creams/butters. (we rented while we were there, I'd wholeheartedly recommend it if you're staying a week or more)

Later on during our renfaire I mentioned to a friend that all our aches, pains and minor allergy ills seemed to get all better over there and she said, 'well, you were eating better whether you knew it or not, not as many additives, hormones or chemicals." I do know just about everything was tastier, and it was easier to get a 6+ lb chicken to roast (for whatever reason, here you have to pay a very sincere premium to buy a chicken bigger than 4-5 lbs. and that's not big enough to do anything other than roast or divide and fry/saute).

#38 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:55 PM:

I have heard it said that the purpose of Velveeta was that vegetarians too could know the joy that is Spam.

#39 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:59 PM:

I will now attempt to yank the thread over to France, which has delicious dairy products. I have been overcome with the desire to knit myself a liberty cap, but I've never seen a real one, nor have I found a good picture on the web. (It's probably my weak, weak Google-fu.) Can any of you help?

#40 ::: Aboulic ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:59 PM:

John M. Ford wrote: And don't get me started on Vileveeta, which is now being sold for its melting qualities, which it shares with paraffin wax

I'm now wondering if it's possible to substitute the Aqueous Cream I use on my psoriasis. This emollient is largely paraffin-based (Liquid paraffin and White Soft paraffin).

After all, it is a spread. I spread it on my skin.

#41 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:12 PM:

"I'm now wondering if it's possible to substitute the Aqueous Cream I use on my psoriasis."

Bonus to using Velveeta, or other Processed Cheese Food product:

Neighborhood dogs attracted by the smell will give you free tongue therapy.

* * *

Somewhere in the back of the pantry is a plastic tray and cover specifically designed to hold a loaf of Velveeta. I should probably put it on eBay as a valuable collectable.

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:20 PM:

TexAnne, did you try "Phrygian cap"?

#43 ::: Ian Osmond ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:28 PM:

As to the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream: whipping cream is heavy cream with stabilizers such as carrageen and the like added.

When Cook's Illustrated did a taste test, nobody could detect ANY taste difference between the two, nor did they find that either was particularly easier to whip up. Whipping cream was somewhat more stable at room temperature, and took longer to "break" -- if you store whipped heavy cream for several days, it starts weeping, and whipped whipping cream takes longer -- but, have you EVER in your life had fresh whipped cream stay around for days?

I tend to use whipping cream more than heavy cream, mainly because that's what Costco sells in bulk, but they're mostly interchangable. I guess if you're grossed out by eating seaweed stabilizers, you might want to stick to the heavy cream, but it really doesn't matter.

As to why the cream didn't whip up -- no clue whatsoever. Someone put light cream in the carton by accident?

#44 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:31 PM:

Patrick: Thanks for the tips. Whole Foods here in Boston (well, Cambridge) carries heavy and 'whipping' cream, but no double cream. I'll have to bring a cooler next time I go down to The Big City.

Paula Helm Murray: I have incredible memories of the cream I got in Raglan, at the farmers' cooperative store, with a date of manufacture the day before I bought it. It was too thick to pour, and a lovely pale yellow. And I concur absolutely with your thoughts on renting a flat even for short vacations.

G. Jules: Alas, Trader Joe's doesn't have double cream, not here at least. I'll check out the Normandy butter, though.

debcha: My last trip to the Whole Foods dairy section revealed that the whipping cream there was somewhat lower in butterfat than the heavy cream. My best guess as to the source of your problems is cream without enough butterfat. Also -- you might check whether your carton is ultra-pasteurized or just pasteurized. The "ultra" process normally denatures some stuff that stabilizes whipped cream; if their equipment overcooked it a bit, that could make the difference between whippable and not.

TexAnne: Try searching on "Phrygian cap" or "Liberty bonnet". IIRC, the originals were sewn felt.

#45 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:34 PM:

TexAnne,
There's an article in the wikipedia, here, which described the liberty cap and says that it's what the Smurfs wear.

And a knitting pattern for an American Girl doll here.

#46 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:35 PM:

Got it! There's a prime Phrygian cap here. These guys will sell you one. There's a photo in their section of kids' costumes. This site on pre-1066 costume has a pattern whereby you can make your own, and a good sample photo of the hat their pattern makes. Here's Zeus Areius wearing one because he wants to. Here's the hapless Louis XVI being made to wear one on his soon-to-be-detached head. This photo, from an antique dealer's site, shows someone wearing the "Marianne" version of the cap, with lappets.

How's that?

#47 ::: Kylee Peterson ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:13 AM:

In theory, buttermilk is more acid than regular milk and this makes a difference in recipes calibrated for it. In my kitchen, I made "buttermilk" pancakes this morning using soy-milk and a little lemon juice and noticed no difference from the plain soy-milk (typo: spy-milk!) version, though I did get some weird-looking curdling effects. There's only a half-teaspoon of baking soda in my recipe, though, and two teaspoons of baking powder, so I think they were planning on people who can't be bothered acidulating their milk.

#48 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:16 AM:

Lin Daniels's confusion at fat-free buttermilk is as nothing to mine when confronted with one of the ice cream toppings frequently on offer at Herrell's in Boston and Cambridge: sugar-free, fat-free hot fudge. Contemplating fudge without sugar or fat, I imagine a concentrated nothingness, something like the glop in the jar in Terry Bisson's Talking Man. Sugar free? Fat free? What's left?!

#49 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:26 AM:

I confound my friends by insisting that nonfat products do not exist. It's winter. I need every bit of fat I can get. This will backfire someday, but for now, I'm cold.

#50 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:28 AM:

Zeus wore his with the curled end forward - and isn't this also what Athena was sometimes depicted in?

My remembering of paintings from the French Revolution had the curve to the side or back, as shown in the link to Louis XVI.

Is this comparable to the backwards-baseball-cap of our era? When did the switcheroo take place?

#51 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:45 AM:

"Charles Dodgson" - Traditionally, buttermilk is the whey left in the churn after the butter has been made, so it's a good protein source and ideally has little or no fat.

Modern buttermilk is a cultured milk product and can be made at any fat level but the most common are fat-free and low-fat (1%).

Kylee - Acidulating soy milk (or spy milk if you prefer, since it can be a clandestine product) clabbers the soy milk the same way it would with regular milk. Cook's Illustrated suggests that this works better for pancakes than using buttermilk. If I were eating pancakes these days, I'd skip both and use slightly acidulated Kefir.

Interestingly, I've only just found a brand of soy milk I actually like, Organic Valley. Yum - not beaney at all.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:51 AM:

Carol, what did Hera wear?

#53 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:55 AM:

Serge - Usually the hide of whomever Zeus last slept with.

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:02 AM:

Oops. I meant, what did Hera wear on her noggin?

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:03 AM:

Sorry, Larry. I meant, what did Hera wear on her noggin?

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:06 AM:

(Apologies for the post's repeat. I wasn't sure the first attempt had made it thru. It's late, I'm at the office, I just found that on weekends they kept the heat down to a minimum. Which makes me feel like Bob Cratchitt.)

#57 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:40 AM:

"What did Hera wear?"

Which inevitably reminds me of the novelty song with state names, which included gems like: "What did Delaware boys, what did Delaware?" "She wore a brand New Jersey." And "why did California you?" "She phoned to say Hawaii."

#58 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:48 AM:

Frequent lurker here--this thread reminded me of a buttermilk pie I used to get as a kid, and I was wondering if any of you might know a good recipe. I can find "buttermilk" pie, and "Chess" pies aplenty online, but my grandmother called this one a buttermilk chess, and none of the recipes sound quite right. It had a lovely custardy texture, but wasn't very sweet, and I always got in trouble for scraping the almost-crispy browned bits off the top.
On the topic of "spread," my grandfather had an Uncle Spread (never knew his real name.)That was what they used to call the frothy stuff that rose to the top of the butter churn--they would "spread" it on bread for a snack. Used to tell me stories about Uncle Spread and the Yankees when I was little.
Thanks for any recipe advice.

#59 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:54 AM:

It's interesting that the figure of Zeus should be identified with the Thracian Zeus Areius and dated to the third century AD - presumably he was wearing the hat to show himself a champion of freedom, which would presumably be the freedom of Thrace from the Romans. Or possibly just the mascot of a free Greek city, which I presume is the case with Athens and the Phrygian-cap wearing Athena. Although Mithras is usually portrayed in a Phrygian cap, too, so maybe there is some syncretism going on.

All the images I've ever seen from antiquity have it with the peak forward. Unless like the coin to commemorate the assassination of Caesar, they don't have a peak at all.

#60 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:01 AM:

How did Wiscon Sin, boys?
She bought a New Brass Key.
Too bad that Arkan Saw, boys,
and so did Tennie See...

I have the Perry Como version. Some of the links are tenuous, to say the least. I guess some here might also be amused by John Linnell's State Songs. The TMBG constituency must overlap somewhere (besides in me) with the Peter Blegvad constituency.

Don't mind me, I just suddenly got excited about posting links.

#61 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:02 AM:

No one's mentioned clotted cream in this thread, which is a tragedy.

Clotted cream is made, apparently, by heating very high fat content cream to about 190° F (88 C) and letting it cool slowly. It forms a rich yellow crust over a treacle-thick bottom layer. It's best eaten with jam over scones, or poured over fresh berries.

Just thought you all should know.

#62 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:18 AM:

"...today's kitchen antics include nuking a jar full of olive oil and rosemary..."

Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

#63 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:24 AM:

abi, clotted cream is a fine thing (I've never found any that poured per se, but perhaps if you heat it a little). On warm scones, or crumpets, or other toasted items, with a bit of jam. Yum.

However, and unfortunately, clotted cream of any respectable quality is basically unavailable in the US. They sell this stuff in jars that is disappointing in the extreme. And those of us wanting to make it at home (quite easy, actually) have to find a source of unpasteurized cream (not so easy, and in some states illegal).

Or we can settle for making it with pasteurized cream, if you can find a source of heavy or double cream without stabilizers in it; it's just not quite as nice a texture and you don't get that golden crust. In any case it makes the house smell like a dairy.

I've taken to simply importing it, wrapped with ice packs in a cooler for the flight, whenever we make a trip to the isles. Anticipation makes it taste four times as good as usual.

#64 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 03:20 AM:

To speak of something completely different, have y'all see the first case of Rowling denialism?

Film director Nina Grünfeld simply thinks the rags-to-riches story of JK Rowling is too good to be true.

Writing in a commentary in Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten's cultural pages this week, she questioned whether it's really possible for Rowling to have been the sole creative force behind what's become an international book and movie empire.

#65 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:00 AM:

Interesting, that. On the same grounds that Baconites rubbish Shakespeare, too: that he was just a bumpkin from Warwickshire who couldn't possibly have known as much as the plays show, and couldn't have been as sensitive and as aware as that. Only the upper classes, y'see, could have been like that. And Rowling was merely a single mother, a nobody on a train. Of course she couldn't have done something so grand. Such a person simply doesn't have the qualities required.

(I'm sorry. Nausea has that effect on me.)

#66 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:34 AM:

Steve Taylor wrote: Amazon is eating our descenders!

And at once I thought: "fishtins!" That was the catchword at the UK Milford conference where one of the MSS had been run off on some nasty 9-pin matrix printer, and Richard Cowper constructed a vast, spurious theory of a post-holocaust background to the story -- because although the technology was otherwise Dark Ages, some character got injured by fishtins.

(The printer didn't do descenders for letters like "g", making it fatally easy to misread "fighting". Indeed it was a sruellins strussle to read that text at all.)

Dave

#67 ::: huh ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 08:19 AM:

I just grazed across this website, so I'm not familiar with the culture here.... so, what does any this chatter about varieties of grease have to do with the quote by James Joyce? " –And going forth he met Butterly."

#68 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 08:20 AM:

J Austin - I think I have my great-great grandmother's buttermilk chess pie recipe around here somewhere. I'll look when I get home from class this afternoon.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 08:49 AM:

Ralph Estling had an interesting article in the Sept/Oct 2005 issue of Skeptical Inquirer. He points out that "...[w]hen one thinks about it, virtually everything that has ever happened in the history of the Universe, was totally unexpected, until it became, suddenly or over gradually over the aeons, inevitable. Physicists call this changeover point a phase transition..."

And this from something that starts with a scene from Bergman's The Seventh Seal and, near the end, announces that "...Max Born, Nobel laureate in physics and one of Albert Einstein's closes friends, was the grandfather of the pop star Olivia Newton-John..."

#70 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:06 AM:

This being an Open Thread, I just wanted to throw out a round of aplause to Teresa for that particle on the varieties of American Political Parties. It's far more tangled, incestuous and interesting than I ever thought possible.

#71 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:39 AM:

Flinging out another topic....

At age 44 I have just started on my associate's degree to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. This involves taking anatomy, medical terminology, etc. etc. and has introduced me to the joys of Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, possibly the best 20 bucks I ever spent. (I should explain that I'm one of those people who knew about hypertext long before the Web--I go to look up a word in the dictionary and half an hour later I'm still chasing references around in circles, having long forgotten what I was originally looking for.)

At any rate, so far I have discovered the following delightful nuggets:

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine: an abnormally strong startle reflex, believed to be of genetic origin, and common in the French-descended population of the state of Maine. ("Mrs. Jones, we believe your husband has Jumping Frenchmen of Maine.")

Lover's fracture: fracture of the calcaneus (heel bone) such as might be caused by jumping from a balcony or second-story window.

Koro: the folk belief in some Asian cultures that one's penis can completely retract into the body, causing death. (A related belief in some parts of Africa holds that sorcerers can steal someone's penis. Pointing out that the alleged victim still has his penis does no good, as obviously the sorcerer has stuck it back on as soon as the accusation was made.)

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:47 AM:

I'll second that, Keith. And I propose thanking Teresa & Patrick for the whole site.

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:50 AM:

The Jumping-Frenchmen of Maine? Never heard of that one even though I grew up where most of those French-Canadians of Maine came from.

#74 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:52 AM:

One out of two ain't bad:

Former Canadian defense minister wants talks on political relations with extraterrestrials, as he is afraid President Bush will start a war with them:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20051124/bs_prweb/prweb314382_1

#75 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:21 AM:

(Belatedly, just as the thread moves on....)

My old machine always clips off the descenders for e-mailers at this site -- thus, the comment about the problem came from "Steve Tavlor".

As to all those kinds of cream: geez, isn't anyone else around here lactose-intolerant? Mom finally got me to try Brummel & Brown Spread, and it's much better than the thick soy-based stuff that refuses to melt, in terms of both texture and taste. I can still drink non-fat lattes and Mom loves buttermilk, so evidently it's the fat that gets us now. But I happily pig out on coffee yogurt and the occasional warmed cup of chocolate soy milk ('tis the season)!

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:30 AM:

"UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

That guy was Canada's Defense Minister, Lila? Well, you know, he might have been on to something. The StarGate is supposed to be in Colorado, but it sure looked like British Columbia to me.

#77 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:50 AM:

Faren Miller: I can still drink non-fat lattes and Mom loves buttermilk, so evidently it's the fat that gets us now.

Wow! I think you're only other person I've met who's milk-fat intolerant, rather than milk-sugar intolerant. It's been a constant source of curiosuty in my group of friends how it is that regular non-fat milk doesn't bother me at all, but I can't drink more than about half a cup of 2% lactaid without reacting. I wonder if there's a name for that, since "lactose-intolerant" doesn't exactly seem accurate?

I still cook with real butter though, and European butter when I can get it. Margarine, yech.

#78 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:00 AM:

Ayse: Do you have any trouble from Customs/Agriculture when you bring cream into the US? Those folks are positively coy about revealing what's allowed and what's seized on arrival.

On clotted cream generally, I offer this tidbit from Alan Davidson's eminently browsable The Oxford Companion to Food:

"In Devon and Cornwall there was a traditional practice, barely surviving at the end of the 20th century, of making butter from clotted cream. The dairymaid would stir the cream with her forearm until the butter was formed."

Yum. No word, though, on how long the dairymaid was up to her elbows in cream.

Faren: Think of this as an outpouring of talk on a normally forbidden subject: butterfat. I once, preparing to make a big batch of puff pastry, went through a Whole Foods with nothing but nine pounds of butter in my basket. Parents actually blenched and pulled their children away from me, as if I might contaminate them by proximity.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:06 AM:

Superhero Hype has a link to a site with photos from the upcoming X-men movie. The Angel looks pretty good. And the Beast definitely looks bestial - if I didn't know already, I'd never have recognized Kelsey Grammer.

#80 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:09 AM:

"Is it possible that a person can write six thick books that are translated into 55 languages and sell more than 250 million copies in less than 10 years? ..."
(from the Potter denialist)

I'd just like to say that people like her give stupid a bad name in so many ways.

1. The idea is, presumably, you get better writing by committee?
2. Asimov wrote 400-plus books in 60-ish years. Conspiracy! (the Potter books are, roughly, fifteen NaNoWriMos by my estimate; I'm sure a professional can give a better estimate.)
3. "I can't do this, therefore nobody can" is a thought process that should be strongly discouraged. Especially when applied to acts of intelligence.

#81 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:13 AM:

To "huh": this is an open thread. Contextless items go here.

#82 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:15 AM:

"Jumping Frenchmen of Maine" is either a) the sort of thing Captain Haddock would say in moments of extreme emotion or b) a mysterious Chestertonian secret society, similar to the Twelve True Fishermen, the Club of Queer Trades, the Society of Dead Men's Shoes, and the Ten Teacups (about whom, of course, I dare not say a word).

And I must admit to being intrigued by Capgras' Syndrome - the belief that a close friend, relative or spouse has been abducted and replaced with an exact duplicate.

#83 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:21 AM:

Clotted Cream......sigh (I had tea this week end that included the version one can get here, which while nice enough wasn't what my memory can taste).

On a sort of related fat laden thought...I miss eating grimenes (fried chicken fat and onions). I still make my grandmother's chopped liver recipe but only on special occasions (no longer for every Shabbat) as it really is quite unhealthy.

#84 ::: Tad Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:27 AM:

"And I must admit to being intrigued by Capgras' Syndrome - the belief that a close friend, relative or spouse has been abducted and replaced with an exact duplicate."

Yes--even worse than this is Capgras' Hypochondria: the belief that you have been cured of Capgras' Syndrome, but now have a different disease with an exactly indentical set of symptoms.

#85 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:29 AM:

"Brush up your Hogwarts, and the girls you'll wow."

Worls for Snape, I gather.

#86 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:35 AM:

A recently retired CBC radio host used to complain about most "healthy" foods with the epigram "no salt, no fat: no taste". The fast-food industry seems to be predicated on the concept that *only* salt and fat are important.

My mother makes a divine chocolate cake frosting using devon double cream.

Does anyone know of a cheese that has a higher fat content than Boursin's 70%?

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:40 AM:

Captain Haddock, ajay? I keep forgetting that the Tintin stories were translated into English and other languages. I do wonder how the translations managed to keep the flavor of Captain Haddock's very colorful swearing. Got any sample?

#88 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:52 AM:

Victor S: Hmm...we must be going to the same Whole Foods (I normally go to the one on River St, and live around the corner from the one on Prospect), and I'm sure that double cream isn't restricted to those decadent aesthetes in New York - I've seen it at at least one of those places. And thank you - now I know to stick with the heavy cream if I want my whipping cream to stay whipped.

Charles Dodgson: fat-free, sugar-free hot fudge sauce is warm cocoa powder slurry. Assuming it is not also chocolate-free.

#89 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:52 AM:

"UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

This is something that irks me almost as much as the metonymy of "September 11th" for the terrorist attacks on Manhattan and Washington; UFO stands for "Unidentified Flying Object." Technically, if you can't tell what something in the sky is, it is a UFO to you. So if you can't tell that it's an airplane, an airplane flying over your head *is* a UFO.

You know, sometimes I hear about books that contain "explicit" or "graphic" language. I get a little excited, sometimes, when I do, because I think, "Great. A writer who writes clearly, and precisely."
Alas, that is usually not what is meant. Mostly, it just means lots of "f-bombs" (does MakingLight refrain from profanity?). Which, while versatile, perhaps, is often not precise. Or explicit.

(I'm really not a pedant, I swear)

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:58 AM:

Sandy says that Asimov wrote 400-plus books in 60-ish years. But how can be sure that he didn't have an underground room filled with dwarves slaving away?

#91 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:09 PM:

Will, I think that the most foul language I ever heard was in 1951's Angels in the Outfield. The team's coach had to tendency to blow his top and would literally make Janet Leigh's character blanche. How did they pull that off in a Fifties movie without getting censored? By having his words played backward on the soundtrack. Quite effective.

As for people who in those days managed to sneak a few ones past the censors, Billy Wilder seemed to be good at that. There was a scene in Some Like It Hot where a man trying to flirt with Jack Lemon who's in drag and playing the cello. The man asks 'her' if she prefers plucking her instrument, and Lemon responds that 'she' prefers slapping it.

#92 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:12 PM:

Larry --- a clarification: I was mystified not by the absence of fat and sugar from buttermilk, but by their absence from something described as "fudge", for which sugar and butter are generally high on the traditional list of ingredients...

#93 ::: Tad Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:23 PM:

Will Entrekin:

Yes, and what really makes me livid is when people refer to the "metric system", when they mean the International System of Units.

I mean, every system of measurement is a metric system, right? Some metric systems employ grams, some employ ounces. A system of measurement that employs inches and feet is a metric system too!

And I'm sure I'm not a pedant either.

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:29 PM:

They simply call it the 'metric' system because its base unit is the 'meter', which means 'measurement'. Sounds silly? No more so than calling a book the 'Bible', which comes from the Greek word for 'book'.

#95 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:33 PM:

On theft, from Slashdot:
dada21 (163177) said:
"I never did it (even though I am an anarchocapitalist and anti-government/anti-mercantilism, I would never steal), ..."

Link

That is all.
-r.

#96 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:36 PM:

Do you have any trouble from Customs/Agriculture when you bring cream into the US? Those folks are positively coy about revealing what's allowed and what's seized on arrival.

I've never had any trouble importing the stuff. Clotted cream is neither meat nor vegetable, which seems to be what gets them all hot and bothered in the food realm.

Then again, I've never been given the body-cavity search coming in from the UK. I do have to unwrap and explain the package before boarding the plane (the perils of an Islamic name, you know), but so far nobody on either end has had anything to say other than that they love the stuff on scones.

geez, isn't anyone else around here lactose-intolerant?

I am. But some things are worth being a bit unwell over.

#97 ::: Tad Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:36 PM:

Thanks, Serge. I was kinda kidding.

#98 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:41 PM:

Sorry, Tad. I feel silly now. Won't be the first time. Nor the last, I'm afraid.

#99 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:42 PM:

"Charles Dodgson" - Oh, that's different. Nevermind

BTW - I'd call fat-free, sugar-free fudge "sludge", which might offer an insight as to its origin.

#100 ::: John Peacock ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:47 PM:

All this talk of heavy cream reminds me of my father.

When he was still working as a salesman in Wisconsin, depending on which client he was visiting, he would stop a different cheese factory. He once got a brick cheese that was so sharp, he had to stop the car and put it in the trunk because of the odor. It was yummy!

Anyways, there was one cheese factory where you could take your own jar in and get a quart of "cream" for $1. It was so thick that you could turn the jar upside down and it wouldn't come out. He would make the most amazing french silk chocolate ice-cream out of it (excuse me while I clean the saliva off of my keyboard).

Sadly, in the last two years I've come over all lactose-intolerant, so no more mega-rich dairy desserts for me. ...SOB... I keep begging for my wife to put me out of my misery, but she keeps finding things around the house that need doing...

John

#101 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:48 PM:

TMBG, check. Peter Blegvad, check. State songs: my favorite is Your State's Name Here by Lou and Peter Berryman.

#102 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:49 PM:

Debra Doyle, thanks for mentioning Ro-Tel...it is, indeed, the superior ingredient for queso.

It also makes a good base for "homemade" salsa, if you don't have the time and inclination to cut up a lot of fresh ingredients. I've made several batches with it, to generally as good a response as the all-fresh ingredient varieties.

#103 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:52 PM:

What bothers me about the SI (thanks for clearing it up, Tad. I'd always called it the metric system, myself, because that's what I was taught it was called when I was in school) is that the U.S. doesn't use it. It's, like, us, Guam, and Liberia, or something, isn't it? (it's not really those last two. I can't remember the other beligerent ones).
“The metric system is the tool of the devil. My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!”
-Grampa Simpson

Serge: you remind me that I need to buy that movie. I've never seen it, but my local drugstores often have the DVD for ten bucks. I'd be willing to wager it's money better spent than the four bucks I spend on... well. I don't remember the last movie I rented, but I'd probably enjoy "Some Like it Hot" more (although, I didn't enjoy "The Apartment" all that much. And that was Wilder, too, I believe).

#104 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:08 PM:

I'm fond of a gag in Futurama where a character was baking a cake whose recipe included Third & Third & Third. Things will be different in The Future, you betcha.

#105 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:08 PM:

Yes, Will, I think The Appartment was a Wilder movie, but I've never seen it. But you definitely want to take a look at Some Like It Hot and has got a great ending line ("Nobody is perfect.") In a more serious vein, Wilder also did Hollywood Boulevard, which is where the line "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. De Mille" comes from. And he also did Ace in the Hole with Kirk Douglas.

#106 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:19 PM:

(I'm really not a pedant, I swear)

Um...I hate to disagree with you, but...like me, you are a pedant. You can be a recovering pedant if you like...I'll keep you apprised (not "appraised"!) of upcoming meetings of PA.

Look, we shorten everything and use metonymy. That's the way it is. 'The attacks of September 11, 2001' is too long a phrase to say over and over. 'Nine-eleven' has become the pronunciation used by most. If you think you're irritated by that, ask someone whose birthday is on that date!

People who say "Technically,..." are almost always pedants. Yes, I know, me too! You're making the primary error that smart people make with regard to language: confusing a word's etymology with its meaning. Not the same thing at all, for most words. This is because linguistic change is going too fast for you, and you liked the way things were before they changed.

If I haven't made it clear, I share this issue.

The word UFO (now pronounced /yuwefó/; the former pronunciation /yúwfo/ appears to be obsolete) originally meant "Unidentified Flying Object." I believe the military now calls that a "Bogie" (correct me if I'm wrong, someone). And individual identification ability was never the meaning AFAIK; it meant unidentified by anyone (at least anyone in communication with the speaker). At any rate, it now means an alien spaceship. The expansion of the acronym is only of historical interest at this point.

I have a friend who likes to point out that the Beatles song "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" has explicit lyrics; the narrator indicates precisely what he means to say (and do). She, too, is a pedant, but at least in her case (and increasingly in mine and, I hope, yours) a pedant for amusement only; she doesn't insist on the literal, broader interpretation.

'Explicit' now means "explicitly sexual," if you use it without explanation or context, and for certain uses. Thus an "explicit novel" has the sexual meaning, whereas "explicit directions to the theatre" does not -- even if the play is an "explicit play"!

A couple of linguistic facts (you won't like them, but I don't like the fact that the speed of light is so damned slow either):

One, words change their meanings and forms over time. The general becomes specific, the specific becomes general, short words fill in for longer phrases. There is no fighting this, however little we (you and I and all the other persons afflicted with the heartbreak of pedantry) may like it. It's a force of nature.

Two, the dictionary definition of a word is at best the tip of a very large iceberg; its usage is generally much more complex than can be captured in such a document. The true meaning of a word is what is understood when the word is said. Just as the two southern boys I've been arguing with lately can't fly the Confederate flag without racist meaning (even though they themselves are not actually racist) you cannot cause the word 'explicit' to mean only 'clear and precise'.

No natural language has semantics that simple, and English is worse than most.

See you at the next PA meeting!

#107 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:24 PM:

Are all of the other lactose-intolerant people here too sensitive for Lactaid chewables (and caplets, etc.) to help? I find them completely effective myself.

#108 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:29 PM:

Serge: reaching back, I think "Tonneres tonnants de Brest" was translated as "Thundering typhoons!" which catches the sense rather nicely. His other exclamation was "Blistering barnacles!" but I can't remember the French original.
I fondly remember reading the Tintin books in English as a kid and pestering my parents to explain his insults, which were wonderful streams of polysyllables: "Anacolouthon! Pithecanthropus! Poltroon! Bashibazouk! Ectoplasm! Visigoths!" and which I think are more or less unchanged from the French.

A quick google reveals this, a complete listing of all Haddock insults. I love the internet.

#109 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:30 PM:

For informal measurements, "that's the way we've always done it" will probably last a long time. I have a feel for what 165 pounds is, but if someone gives their weight as 12 stone, or 75 kilos, I have to do the math to turn it into intuitive-for-me units. And height in cm is a miserable conversion for me, for some reason.

I went to school in Montreal, and I have a gut feel for any temperature in C between 10 and -40, but above 10 C I have to do the math. I guess it's really a matter of familiarity.

#110 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:31 PM:

Lactaid works well enough for me, but people vary widely - I know people who can't touch anything with a noticeable trace of dairy at all.

#111 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:31 PM:

Hmm... The Abyss is on the Skiffy Channel right now. A few minutes ago was the scene where Mastrantonio comes literally face to face with a pillar of water animated by aliens. When she realizes that the pillar is mimicking her every expressions, she sticks her tongue at it.

That got me wondering if this was such a hot idea. And THAT got me realizing that I don't know if all human cultures see tongue-sticking as a dismissive gesture. After all, not all human cultures think that kissing on the mouth is OK.

True, chimps do it.

Still, I wonder about the universality of tongue-sticking. And why it means what it means to primates.

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:33 PM:

"Thundering typhoons!"

"Blistering barnacles!"

Yes, ajay, I'd say the translations accurately captured Captain Haddock's favorite mode of expression.

#113 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:53 PM:

debcha: I usually go to the Whole Foods at Fresh Pond; I live just off of Concord, so it's easier to get there. I'll have to check out the others more carefully.

Ayse: Thanks for the tip. Next time I'm headed to the UK, I'll bring a cooler.

Dan R.: I think Explorateur runs about 80%. Hmm...another quick check with the ever-useful Oxford Guide to Food: they say 75%. Yummy, in any case; and small enough that a small group can buy one whole and use it up before it goes bad.

Dan R. again: Fast food focuses on salt and fat because they're the cheapest means of adding or carrying flavor. Some budding epicures insist that taste has been bred or processed (or both) out of modern foodstuffs, leading to fat and salt overdoses. Those epicures are often in the awkward position of insisting that something they've never tasted is better than anything they have. I take their views with a big dose of research and, of course, a grain of salt. (That's 64.8 mg, for you SI buffs). I have a whole list of books on this kind of thing, if anybody's interested.

Dan R. yet again, re health food: One of my objections to most food movements is the idea, explicit or implicit, that if food tastes good, it must be bad for you. For instance, the Laurel's Kitchen strand of vegetarianism is pretty much explicit about bland food being the aim, for health and spiritual reasons both, of their cookbook (check the introduction for details). I keep my copy around as a cautionary tale.

John Peacock: Sounds like double cream to me. I feel for you, particularly with such a history of wonderful dairy experiences. If lactose per se is your enemy, you may have some luck with lactase tablets. Lara has had good luck with them in the past. Also, in theory, thicker the cream will have much less lactose than milk, as it's displaced by all that butterfat. (Of course, it's also richer and therefore harder to digest...)

#114 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:02 PM:

the idea, explicit or implicit, that if food tastes good, it must be bad for you

My mother's view was that if a meal looked good and tasted good, it probably was good for you. No, we didn't do rich desserts all the time - but there usually was a dessert, even if it was just cookies. (Home-made ice cream was high on our list, but cranking the freezer was work.) Bland was not part of it, except perhaps as contrast to something with lots of flavor (rice or mashed potatoes with something spicy, frex.)

#115 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:06 PM:

The upside down jar of olive oil went in the freezer this morning, the better to dump off anything that wasn't oil. The top layer having been dumped, I now have a jar of very cold rosemary scented sludge. :-) I wonder what the results would be like if I used a tablespoonful of this stuff as the oil in the next batch in the bread machine...

#116 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:09 PM:

Xopher: I can't fully agree with your comment, for several reasons. Briefly:
About September 11th and the terrorist attacks that occurred that day four years ago- we don't refer to Pearl Harbor as "December--- (what is it, 8th? 7th? It's this week, isn't it?)" We don't refer to the droppings of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by a date, or the... okay, if I go much farther, I'm going to reveal my ignorance of history. The storming of Normandy. The battle of Waterloo.
If we referred to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon as the Jihadist attacks, or whatever else, I'd be fine with it. It's not the metonymy; it's the loss of information conveyed. Of course, if we referred to them by a more accurate name, we might start reminding people that we subsequently attacked people who had absolutely no connection to it, and God forbid.

I'm all for changes in the language. It's important, and English is perhaps the most fluid of all. It creates some inherently odd exceptions ("stride" becomes "strode," so why doesn't "glide" become "glode" or "slide" become "slode"?), but, honestly, breaking exceptions like that interests me. Excites me. It's *fun* to make the language work in interesting and novel ways.

I understand how things take on different meanings (the greatest example I can think of is the swastika). Yes, of course, change happens over time.
But change does not occur by singular instance; it requires agreement, does it not? It *is* possible to quash it when necessary. And I think "September 11th" is necessary quashing. Unless we're just going to start referring to everything by dates. So FEMA dropped the ball on August 29th (er. That was when Katrina made landfall, wasn't it?), and Oswald acted alone on November 22nd.

#117 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:11 PM:

Victor S.

Interested!

Titles, authors, ISBNs or Amazon links are all appropriate.

#118 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Serge, there are quite a few cultures which use the tongue-out gesture in different contexts. I'm going to be vague right now because I really don't want to spend the next three hours double-checking the specific cultures to make sure I don't conflate or confuse them or attribute the wrong gesture/meaning to some innocent (or guilty) culture.

One way to use the tongue-out is with a loud, definite intake of air as a respectful greeting, impolying that you're making sure that none of your inferior-status cooties get on the person you're greeting and whose superior status you are reinforcing.

Another way is to combine it with wide rolling eyes and aggressive posture which does not dismiss the audience but does inform them that you are tough and in ceremonial mode.

Another is to be presenting the tongue for bloodletting, also cermeonial, and it implies that the person you are with is equal in stature to you and you are both rather elite to be participating in this very important world-balancing and restoring sacrifice (Central America).

Another way to use it, this in Western cultures, is with wide eyes, raised eyebrows, and spread arms and hands, and it is a gesture of surprise: if there is a very wide gaping smile, it's pleased surprise, and if the mouth is in an O it's alarmed surprise, and if the mouth is pursed up at top, it's frightened or disgusted surprise.

The tongue is a very versatile and flexible thing, in communication as well as in other functions.

(PA, Xopher?)

#119 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:47 PM:

J Austin - I found my family's chess pie recipe - no buttermilk. I asked my grandmother who is the Queen of All Things Buttermilk, and she said you should be able to substitute buttermilk for the cream in a chess pie, but you'll probably need to adjust the butter amount and perhaps add an egg. She said this is what her grandmother did when she had more buttermilk than cream around the farm. I hope this helps!

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 03:05 PM:

Thanks, Lucy. You know, I love finding out the reason behind things. It was such a kick to me to find that offering to shake hands thus shows that you don't have a dagger ready to stab the other person.

#121 ::: zingerella ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 03:15 PM:

Teresa very graciously cited me as the source to The Guide to U.S. Political Parties. But credit where credit is due, I ganked the link from Will Shetterly's comment here.

This is all very circular.

#122 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 03:22 PM:

Serge, I think that shaking-hands thing is an after the fact explanation. A just-so story like Charles Lamb's roast pig story which I have also seen retold as a known fact.

I actually think that the reason that so many cultures have a hands-touching greeting is because it's an obvious thing to do, being that our hands are the outermost thing that easily touches things, and are sensitive, so there's a positive message. And I think the shake is a matter of style.

But that's just what I think. I think that when it comes to a lot of behavior things, we often over-explain things. Like the people who do prettiness studies which purport to prove there's an evolutionary explanation for the researcher's favorite haircut.

#123 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 03:35 PM:

EZ-Rocket, or Rutan strikes again!

#124 ::: Mary R ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 03:44 PM:

A jumprope chant from my Irish girlhood:

My Momma told me, not to play with you,
Not because you're dirty, not because you're clean,
But because you caught the whooping cough,
From eating mar-ga-reen!

#125 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:07 PM:

About September 11th and the terrorist attacks that occurred that day four years ago- we don't refer to Pearl Harbor as "December--- (what is it, 8th? 7th? It's this week, isn't it?)" We don't refer to the droppings of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by a date, or the... okay, if I go much farther, I'm going to reveal my ignorance of history. The storming of Normandy. The battle of Waterloo.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November...

Some things *do* get remembered by date, since it is just too unwieldy to talk about "the failed plot against Parliament and the King for which Guy Fawkes was arrested and hanged". The reason 9/11 became popular, I suspect, is that a bunch of simultaneous actions is pretty hard to summarise except by the date they have in common. We talk about the (previous) World Trade Center bombing, but "the 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon" is just too awkward, and to focus on the WTC misses out a big chunk of the subject. Of course, 9/11 bothers me because, being British, I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn't refer to the 9th of November.

This kind of date thing seems common in continental Europe, too. In Italy every city has streets named after dates, Via Settembre XX or the like. I can't remember exactly what they all were, or referred to. Probably dates in the struggles against fascism and capitalism, seeing as I was living in Bologna and walking along Via Stalingrado and Viale Lenin.

State songs (though nobody's interested): there was a John Linnell live show at which he played what apparently used to be the offical state song of Maryland, with the lyrics:

(to the tune of O Tannenbaum, or the Red Flag)

The tyrant's heel is on thy shore
Maryland, my Maryland.
His torch is at thy temple door
Maryland, my Maryland.
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore
And be the battle-queen of yore,
Maryland, my Maryland.

Supposedly the tyrant was Abraham Lincoln. Is this true? I suppose I should check Snopes.

#126 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:13 PM:

Taking advantage of the openness of the thread here, I note that same sex Civil Partnerships are now legal in the UK. First ceremonies in Northern Ireland on the 19th, Scotland on the 20th, and England and Wales on the 21st.

Asda (the UK flavour of Wal-Mart) is ordering in "Mr and Mr" and "Mrs and Mrs" wedding cards. The Times has added a Civil Partnerships column to its Births, Deaths and Marriages section. My large corporate employer has revised all its forms to change "Married" to "Married or Civil Partner" and all related changes.

And civilisatiion has yet to fall. Fancy that.

#127 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:20 PM:

The word UFO (now pronounced /yuwefó/; the former pronunciation /yúwfo/ appears to be obsolete) originally meant "Unidentified Flying Object."

I remember hearing both pronunciations, up until the live-action Gerry Anderson series "UFO" aired on TV. The TV show was unambiguously pronounced "You Eff Oh," and I never heard the "yoofo" pronunciation after that except from old-timers. I'm pretty confident that Gerry Anderson killed the "yoofo" pronunciation.

There are some other SF-related terms that underwent pronunciation changes between 1960 and 1970 that I've always wondered about:

1) Mechanical men were called "RObəts* fairly consistently up through the 1950s. By the end of the 1960s, that pronunciation had disappeared.** Was it because of the popularity of Robbie the Robot?

2) Radiation-challenged humans used to be called "mute ants." I can attest to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price using the "mute-ant" pronunciation as late as 1969 on a BBC radio series. It was a common pronunciation on X Minus One and 2000 Plus. Any idea what triggered the transition to "MYOO-tənt"?

3) I have one old radio show where a non-pigmented person is referred to as an "al-BEE-no." I've no idea whether that was a once-common pronunciation, or a one-time gaff by a radio actor.

*Do you see a box or a schwa? It should be a schwa. I see a box here, even though I see a schwa when I use ə on other websites using Explorer.

**My favorite detail on Futurama: All the really old people (e.g., Professor Farnsworth and his contemporaries) pronounce it "RObət," as though it were an age-related pronunciation.

#128 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:25 PM:

Actual Really, Honestly, fact about Vin Diesel:

He's an avid "Dungeons and Dragons" player.

As strange as that sounds, hearing it didn't surprise as much as learning that Bruce Sterling was once a D&D player, and reportedly ran a awesomely good campaign. (He ditched it all when his first novel was published.)

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:32 PM:

Who knows, Lucy? Gestures like shaking hands have been around for so long that we have to have forgotten the original reason. Yes, any explanation would have to be after the fact, but I kind of like the dagger one myself. There's a certain elegance to it.

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:35 PM:

Exeter did pronounce 'mutant' like 'mute-ANT' in This Island Earth, but I've always been more familiar with the other pronunciation. From the Outer Limits, I think.

#131 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:39 PM:

Behold, I see a schwa. (In Firefox 1.5.)

By my recollection, the two-syllable pronunciation of the initialism "UFO" was never the standard; I vaguely recall a magazine article on True Believers that observed that they used it, and it's possible that it was created as a sign that you were a True Believer. I don't believe any of the Fifties documentaries used it. (Of course, The Typical American in the Street Because He Was Looking for Approaching Soviet Bombers was still calling them Flying Saucers.*

After all, the thing that differentiates an initialism from an acronym is that the second is readily pronounceable; people don't call the FBI "the Fubby," unless they're trying to make a joke.

*pron. "FLINEsossers."

#132 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:56 PM:

"FLINEsossers"

Which in turn reminds me of a hilarious book by Afferbeck Lauder (Pseud.) called "Let Stalk Strine." It's a compilation of Aussie slang, including such gems as "Emma Chisit" and "Gloria Soame." (You gotta say 'em to get the flavor.)

#133 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:00 PM:

Graham Parker's song "Waiting for the UFOs" (from the late Seventies, IIRC) uses the two-syllable pronunciation. I don't know if he thought that was correct, or just needed something that scanned (the whole chorus would break if "U-F-O" were substituted for "yoofo").

#134 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:20 PM:

Victor wrote:
"Some budding epicures insist that taste has been bred or processed (or both) out of modern foodstuffs, leading to fat and salt overdoses. Those epicures are often in the awkward position of insisting that something they've never tasted is better than anything they have."

There are certainly such things as food-Luddites out there, but there is also such a thing as decades of breeding plants for ease of production and shipping, size/color uniformity, disease resistance and other qualities that have nothing to do with taste or nutritional value.

I offer this experimental protocol: Procure slices of two watermelons: one Moon and Stars (preferably the pink-fleshed variety) and one Charleston Gray (pretty much the default commercial variety, and a parent of most newer varieties). Chill to 50 degrees F. Taste.

Do a similar comparison between tomatoes at 78 degrees F: one slice of Better Boy and one slice of Brandywine. You could try Better Boy vs. Purple Calabash, but you'd have to blindfold the taste tester because Purple Calabash is the color of raw beef liver.

I have grown both Moon and Stars watermelons and Purple Calabash tomatoes, and the difference between these varieties, freshly grown and picked ripe, and the stuff you get at the supermarket is like the difference between canned peaches and fresh peaches.

#135 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:30 PM:

LeeAnn, thanks so much for the chess pie advice.
My Gran didn't make it very often, but I totally cheated at the Rebekkah's bake sale cake-walk to go back home with it. You'd think a portly nine-year-old inching forward or back two or three chalked squares after the number was called would have attracted notice.

#136 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:32 PM:

GAH! The weather is affecting my syntax. The last line should read "...between fresh peaches and canned peaches."

#137 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:46 PM:

HP: You see a box in IE because Making Light's CSS specifies "verdana,arial,sans-serif" for comments-body, there's no schwa in Verdana, and IE doesn't substitute for missing characters in the same script. Firefox does, so John Ford sees a schwa. (Konqueror doesn't either, so I likewise see a box, despite my default font having a schwa.)

#138 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:54 PM:

3) I have one old radio show where a non-pigmented person is referred to as an "al-BEE-no." I've no idea whether that was a once-common pronunciation, or a one-time gaff by a radio actor.

Well, that's the way I've always pronounced the word. And it's how the Compact OED suggests pronouncing it too, so I suspect it's standard in the UK.

#139 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:05 PM:

Lila -- I agree in principle, though I submit that a truly ripe Better Boy will be tastier than a picked-for-later-sale farmers' market Brandywine. [I've done this test, more or less, when two stands at the market were selling ripe "field tomatoes" and not-quite-ready Brandywines, respectively.]

And, a personal plea here, how can I get hold of this good-tasting watermelon? Can they be bought? I live in an apartment with no garden, so I can't grow them.

I really miss the Flavr Saver genetically engineered tomato, which tasted garden-ripe when bought from the supermarket. Alas.

As for peaches, your comparison could work in either direction, depending on whether the 'fresh' peaches are grocery store or tree-ripened. I'd rather eat the label on the can than those little furry boulders. But I'd walk five miles each way to get ripe peaches. If I could get ripe peaches; the growers around here won't leave them on the trees that long.

#140 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:05 PM:

Annie Scarborough, SFF author, has a beautiful necklace up for auction for charity.

#141 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:21 PM:

Keith: At the risk of boring and/or annoying people, here goes.

It turns out that I didn't have a list, not written anyway; and without annotation, a list would be sort of pointless. So, a few cups of tea (Ceylon, from Upton Tea) later:

Bear in mind that food writing in general, at least in the English language, seems to be pretty much exempt from fact-checking of even the most basic sort. Food history is a more scholarly pursuit, but no craft hall board of auditors keeps food writers from savaging food history. Or food historians from producing lousy, if perhaps authentic, recipes.

Scholarly material on food and food history:

The Oxford Companion to Food, by Alan Davidson. A scholar's work. You may find errors, but you'll have to work at it. If you like this, there is a related periodical,

Petits Propos Culinaires. This journal, originally founded by Alan Davidson more or less so that Richard Olney could work original recipes into a Time-Life cooking series, is your source for material such as the botanical identity of 'bird pepper'; the history of beer in Ireland; or the origin of Bakewell Tart.


Books decrying the decline of the table, American and otherwise:

1. An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, by Elizabeth David. Collected essays, most previously published as short magazine pieces. If you're dipping in for vitriol, try "Big, Bad Bramleys", "Secrets", "Eating Out in Provincial France, 1965-1977", or especially "Letting Well Alone". If you'd prefer a milder flavor, "The True Emulsion", "Having Crossed The Channel", or "'I'll Be with You in the Squeezing of a Lemon'" will give you a gentler taste. David may have pioneered the 'grumpy gourmet' style of writing.

2. Taste of America, by John and Karen Hess. John Hess spent one highly controversial year as the food editor of the New York Times. The Hess style is a sort of take-no-prisoners charge into the subject matter, but at least they do their research. They take obvious glee in savaging Craig Claiborne and James Beard, but they're careful of their ground and present their cases well. Note that even the Hesses focus on the best of the past, often contrasted with the median of the present. So you get Thomas Jefferson's garden versus supermarket lettuce. Also, this was published in the early 1970's, so you'll have to make allowances for the passing decades.

3. Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. It's been a while since I've read this one, but my recollection is that the reportage was reasonably accurate, if negative in tone. The book was certainly much better than the hype surrounding it.

4. Last Chance to Eat, by Gina Mallet. This book is tragic. It could have been a really good book at least two ways: as an examination of the quality of modern food, or as a memoir of growing up in interwar Britain in an upper-upper-middle-class family with an affinity for food. Sadly, it isn't a good book at all, though many people in food-blog-land love it. If you read this book, take notes or something so you can follow the unsupported assertions, and see how the facts the author marshals undermine her own attitudes, without affecting those attitudes in the least. Also, do some elementary fact checking. The author, for instance, claims that Cornish Yarg is a vanished cheese. I can get it 3 blocks from my apartment in Massachusetts. She also claims that it's a wonderful food. De gustibus and all that, but my cheesemonger carries it for variety rather than taste; they try to steer me onto something more pleasant every time I ask about it. I keep trying to write an essay about this one, and keep either foaming at the mouth or writing a line-by-line refutation which even I wouldn't want to read. Oh, and her chapter on GM tomatoes has no correct facts at all in it - a journalistic own goal of sorts.


A useful counteragent to all this is a work of social history, first published by the Fabian society in 1913, called Round About A Pound A Week, by Maud Pember Reeves. (Reprinted by Virago Press, ISBN:0860680665). This is a contemporary account of the lives of lower-middle-class families in the 1910-1913 time period. Wages for, say, a police constable or a skilled carpenter in London, were around a pound per week. The cost and quality of food and fuel is extensively discussed. The take-home message here is that most people ate very badly indeed back then.

For works discussing the high end of food ingredients today, I recommend obscure periodicals. Particularly The Art of Eating, published quarterly by Ed Behr. Insightful articles discussing things like beef, veal (including free-range veal), foie gras (and the associated ethical questions), aged Cheddar cheese from Vermont, Canada, or England, and so on. The current issue has an article on tropical fruit in Florida, and an extensive piece on making Comté, the French Gruyere.

There is also Behr's recently updated book, The Artful Eater. It focuses exclusively on finding high-quality ingredients, and comes with a list of sources in case you want to do blind tastings and check his findings. Or cook dinner. Or if reading all this has made you hungry.

I can also recommend the works of Jeffrey Steingarten, the food columnist for... Vogue. No kidding. Steingarten's columns almost make it worth hauling 800 pages of perfume ads home from the newsstand every month. (As an aside, it's wonderful to live in a place which has newsstands. I grew up in rural Indiana, seeing them in comic books, but never in real life.)

Since you'll probably want a higher ratio of utility-to-pulp, Steingarten's older columns have been collected in two books, The Man Who Ate Everything ,and It Must Have Been Something I Ate. These are worth their price just for, respectively, the essays "Pies from Paradise" and "High Steaks". About half of these essays are ingredients-oriented, and about half are technique-oriented. Someday I hope to have both his obsessive attention to detail and his expense account.

Feel free to make additions if I've left out your favorites.

#142 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:35 PM:

The Oxford Companion to Food, by Alan Davidson

Or the Penguin Companion, in the softbound (and still very large) form. I've found two errors: in ice-cream sundaes, Two Rivers is in Wisconsin, not Michigan; and Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday, not the last Thursday, in November. Some of the articles don't have enough information for me; there's just enough to be interesting, but not enough to explain some of the items (Egg perfumer? There's a picture, but no explanation).

#143 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:36 PM:

Will, candle has pretty much got it. I'd have said something more basic like "Well, that's what they do. Consistency is too much to ask. Deal with it." (And that would be brusque and curt and stuff, so I'm glad candle took it up.)

And I'd have to look it up to be sure, but I don't think 'stride' became 'strode' historically. I think you're really talking about the present and past tense respectively, yes? There's a simple answer there: analogic change always flows toward the regular form. (Surface analogy to Yog's Law entirely intentional.)

That means that if there are two verbs, one strong ('stride', 'strode') and one weak like most verbs ('glide', 'glided') -- where 'weak' means that it follows the general pattern of verb tenses (that is, it's "regular"), rather than having a mind of its own -- it's possible for the strong one to become weak, but not the other way around. That means that while 'strided' may come into general use, 'glode' will not.

Every once in a while someone says or writes something that reverses this. And it's hilarious, which shows how strong the expectation of weakness in verbs is.

The thing about irregular (strong) verbs is that they're, well, irregular. Thus you get 'sing', 'sang', 'have sung' but 'cling', 'clinged', 'have clung'. (At least I've never heard anyone say 'clang' (not as a past-tense verb anyway), and would laugh if I did. "I clang to the flotsam until rescued." Nope, JPW.

There are some groups of strong verbs that follow the same pattern, but not so you can rely on it. That's why analogic change happens.

But analogic change only happens when a verb is used relatively infrequently. There has to be time for a lot of speakers to forget the strong form, shrug, and apply the weak form. The force that opposes analogic change is sound change, and ALL words in a language are subject to that, regardless of how frequently they're used. This is why the verb 'to be' is so bloody irregular in almost every language. I doubt you'd be happy if people started saying 'be', 'beed', 'have beed'.

Ick. I sure wouldn't!

And that points up one reason why analogic change only flows toward the regular pattern. If it's 'is', 'was', 'were', then it should logically be 'illustrates', 'wallustrates', 'wellustratre', right? Well, obviously not!

Lucy: Pedants Anonymous. Not Pennsylvania.

#144 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:41 PM:

Or, gods forbid, PublishAmerica.

#145 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:42 PM:

(At least I've never heard anyone say 'clang' (not as a past-tense verb anyway), and would laugh if I did. "I clang to the flotsam until rescued."

No, but I've never heard anyone say they "clinged" either. The form (just as in the past perfect) is "clung."

#146 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:45 PM:

AAAK. You're right! Argh.

Well, it still makes my point though. 'Sing', 'sang', 'have sung' but 'cling', 'clung', 'have clung' is still not the same pattern.

Nevertheless, I shall dutifully pound my head with an oak dowel, as soon as I get home to where I keep my oak dowels.

#147 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:47 PM:

Unless, of course, one of those nasty conservatives has sneaked (snuck?) into my apartment and disemdoweled me.

I swear I didn't have this in mind when I promised to pound my head...and I really do have a couple of two-inch oak dowels at home.

#148 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:50 PM:

Just when you thought Vox Day couldn't get more annoying... well... he manages...

#149 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:56 PM:

A pedantic correction: Let Stalk Strine isn't actually a compilation of Australian slang, but a comic representation of how largely standard english is rendered in a broad (which is to say, narrow-lipped) Australian accent.

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 07:08 PM:

What does disemdoweled mean, Xopher? Is it when someone sneaks into your place and removes all the dowels from your Ikea furniture?

#151 ::: Carl Caputo ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 07:19 PM:

Another pedantic correction: Serge, that Wilder movie where Swanson is ready for her close-up is Sunset Boulevard, not Hollywood Boulevard.

Oh, and that schwa displays in Safari.

And disemdowel is a pun based on disemvowel, which procedure posts too trollish to countenance here undergo.

nd dsmdwl s pn bsd n dsmvwl, whch prcdr psts t trllsh t cntnnce hr ndrg

is how that last comment would read, disemvoweled.

#152 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 07:26 PM:

Further re the 9/11 attacks and metonymy: Most of us outside Hawaii use "Pearl Harbor" more often to mean the Japanese bombing of that base than the location itself; "Waco", "Hiroshima," and "Columbine" refer to events as well as to locations. "The World Trade Center" doesn't work as the metonymy here for a couple of reasons--not only did one plane hit the Pentagon and one go down in rural Pennsylvania, but there are other "World Trade Center"s than New York City's.

There are also holidays known primarily if not only by their dates--July Fourth, Cinco de Mayo, and (on other calendars) Tisha b'Av and Ramadan.

#153 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 07:44 PM:

Oh yeah, December 7 is Pearl Harbor Day. Maybe not so much to our generation, but to the WWII generation it definitely is.

It's a bit of a joke in my family, since my sister was born December 7, 1951, ten years to the day later. I sometimes add "Happy Pearl Harbor Day!" to her birthday cards, an oxymoron to most people. (Reminds me: I have to mail her Pearl Harbor Day card soon.) Our oldest sibling, coincidentally, was born Jan. 7, 1942, one month to the day after Pearl Harbor.

Now if you live in Delaware, it's "Delaware Day" a state holiday. On Dec. 7, 1787, Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution, which is why the state's nickname is "The First State." But I bet even people in Delaware (Delawareans?) who are old enough to remember 1941 think of it as Pearl Harbor Day.

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 07:45 PM:

Done it again. Thanks for the title correction, Carl.

As for your other comment, I know about disemvowelement, as it is itself a pun on disembowelement, which I've seen done to certain people on this site. The disemvowellement, I mean, not the disembowellement. When disemdowellement came up, I figured it was either a pun taken further, or a typo that reminded me of Ikea. (I have fond memories of Ikea as it was the only kind of furniture my wife and I could afford, in the early days of our matromony.)

#155 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 07:49 PM:

There are also holidays known primarily if not only by their dates--July Fourth, Cinco de Mayo, and (on other calendars) Tisha b'Av and Ramadan.

True, although I think the difference with 9/11 (and November 5th) is that they are also used to refer to the events which the date commemorates. No-one calls the signing of the Declaration of Independence "July 4th", they say that to refer to the date on the calendar which celebrates it.

Yes, I'm a pedant too. And I have a close friend whose birthday is September 11th. At least I now never forget her birthday.

Leaving aside the possibility that it didn't actually take place on that date. That *is* what July 4th celebrates, right? I may live in Oregon but I'm still an ignorant European on such matters. I say al-BEE-no too. And maybe the old pronunciation of "robot" has to do with its origin in Czech? I'm not sure how Karel Capek intended it to be pronounced.

#156 ::: Carl Caputo ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 08:03 PM:

Does anybody here frequent MetaFilter? They have a thread culture reminiscent of Making Light, and an idiomatic sort of blurb reflex of the form “MetaFilter: insert quoted text here.”

In that spirit, I offer Making Light: A pun taken further.

#157 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 08:20 PM:

My earlier post appears to have been eaten, so here I go again...

Scott Adams is now claiming the "recipe" for funny comics: Humor?? Formula. His "humor" is formulaic, indicating that he neglected one negative attribute which overrides all others: Obvious (the joke-killer).

in re Mac&Cheese: I like to add sharp and/or smoky Chedder (grated) or crumbled feta. Either gives it a nice bite missing from the original (also, I do not add milk or water -- I like mine thick!).

#158 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:14 PM:

Mr. Shaw, I stand corrected. I should add that I've owned that book for umpty-scratch years and only today recognized the pun in the author's name.

#159 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:23 PM:

Well, if we're into House Recipes for Kramp Soylent Gold, I usually substitute sour cream for the milk. It's a long way from Mike Romanoff's noodles*, but it's also a bunch less work. A little granulated onion and garlic doesn't hurt, either. (Caramelized onions are just fine too, but again, we're talking about turning a Fast Convenient Thing into a Component of an Elaborate Dish that still mostly tastes like KM&C in the BB.

*Which Betty Crocker seems to have quit making in boxed form. The restaurant, and Romanoff, are long gone, and the product was done under license (Romanoff was probably phony nobility, but he was a sharp operator), and maybe the name just didn't have cachet any more. Or, more mundanely, the sales fell off for whatever reason.

#160 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:29 PM:

I've ... only today recognized the pun in the author's name.

I fear I shouldn't confess this, but I still can't hear the pun in the name (even though I guessed there should be one since discovering a copy of Fraffly Strine Everything in my former college's rare books room). Could someone explain it, please? And yes, I know that kills the joke.

("Fraffly" was his equivalent book on supposedly upper-class English: "Fraffly Well Spoken".)

#161 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:34 PM:

Thank you, Victor! I've been looking for some good food writing. My exposure thus far bhas been little, only Kitchen Confidential and a fascinating book called In the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food by Stewart Lee Allen, all about the history of forbidden, rare and hard to find fod items. Fascinating stuff.

#162 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:51 PM:

When you want a book set up for easy reference, you put the words in Afferbeck Lauder, so you can just look things up.

#163 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:55 PM:

Thanks, Xopher. That's a lot better than I could have come up with.

#164 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:29 PM:

Another interesting food book is Unmentionable Cuisine, by Calvin Schwabe. About taboos connected with meat, with recipes.

#165 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:46 PM:

Linkmeister: The pun is much more obvious to Australians, who pronounce neither "r" in "order".

#166 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:55 PM:

You are already showing your relative good taste by using real Kraft M&C instead of the generic equivalent.

That's good taste? I suppose if you can't find Annie's....

wrt "spread": there are a number of products in local megamarts that are a mix of oils, water, and chemicals, doing an impression of soft margarine with less than 80% fat.

wrt "double" (ultra-heavy) cream: possibly Wild Harvest would supply where Whole Foods fails? (I'm surprised that Fresh Pond Whole Foods doesn't have double cream, as they're huge and Prospect St. is tiny. Different neighborhoods, different specialties....)

Considering the quality of the early Potter books, I have no trouble believing Rowling's story -- at least if I ignore her claims about having nothing to do with fantasy.

Victor: I won't argue about who's a curmudgeon on food, as I don't buy food books. But the debasement of food in the interests of uniformity and stability is widespread; the only question is how deformed a particular product has become. My particular thing-to-fuss-about is beer: the U.S. mass product is a triumph of engineering (yeast is essentially a weed, but they've got it doing exactly the same thing every time) with horrible results -- and we know they're horrible because the change is recent and because old beers have been discovered. To my taste, what has happened to hops is even worse; they've been bred for very high overall bitterness without paying attention to the balance of different components, with the result that people are now praising(!) beer for tasting like grapefruit rind.

#167 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:56 PM:

TexAnne - re your "weak, weak Google-fu", try Advanced Google. It's much easier to get good results with it.

It has four text boxes, labeled, more or less:
All of these:
Phrase:
Any of these:
None of these:

If you discover, for instance, that

Phrase: Liberty cap

is getting you too many psilocybin mushroom hits, back up and put "mushroom" into the "None of these" box.

Me, I like to open the results into a new window (IE) or tab (Firefox), so I've got my 100-item list ready to look at easily.


#168 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:02 PM:

Serge & Ajay -

The barnacles I remember Captain Haddock invoking were "Billions of blue blistering barnacles!"

I seem to remember checking against an untranslated Tintin, and finding that it was an em-filled phrase starting "Million de milliards" (which is, je pense,, billions.

#169 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:50 PM:

Candle -

I believe you're under a gross, albeit entirely understandable, misapprehension. "What apparently used to be the offical state song of Maryland" still is, as far as I know. The General Assembly keeps voting down repeal measures for the song, writ in 1861 and adopted in 1939.

The first verse, set, I have only now learned, to Lauriger Horatius, (though I have a hard time fitting the Latin I was taught to the tune I know) is

The despot's heel is on thy shore,
Maryland, my Maryland.
His foot is at thy temple door,
Maryland, my Maryland.
Avenge the patriotic gore
That floods the streets of Baltimore
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland, my Maryland.


That's the only verse I was taught in second grade, when I lived in Murlin. Reasons for such restraint become clear when one reads the screed, er, song, in its entirety.

Herewith verses VII and IX

VII
I see the blush upon thy cheek,
Maryland!
For thou wast ever bravely meek,
Maryland!
But lo! there surges forth a shriek
From hill to hill, from creek to creek -
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!

IX
I hear the distant thunder-hum,
Maryland!
The Old Line's bugle, fife, and drum,
Maryland!
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb -
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! she burns! she'll come! she'll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!

As Anna Russell was wont to say, "I am
not
making this up!

#170 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:59 PM:

And, having writ my last, I find how the words fit the music of Lauriger Horatius.

#171 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 12:23 AM:

Have I told you this before, Patrick and Teresa? It is maddening but inescapably right to read the opening of Ulysses making the following substitution:

Stately, plump Bill Patterson came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A torn red paisley dressing gown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air....

#172 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:07 AM:

Thanks Xopher and linkmeister: I know feel duly embarrassed for not working it out. (That said, in my own defence it is still really hard to make the pun work in my natural accent. The "Lauder" part I was tending to mispronounce as "louder", which is the influence of Latin, but the problem is the glottal stop I was putting in at the end of Afferbeck. Unless you really stress the end - and to be fair, he did give me two consonants to work with - it's impossible to make it do the right amount of work. This is the same accentual tic which makes it difficult for people to distinguish between my saying "can" and "can't". OK, apologia over.)

And thanks, Janet McC. I was just repeating what I was told - wishful thinking on their part, I guess. But really, how bad can a song be if it includes the line "Potomac calls to Chesapeake"? Not to mention "Huzza!" and "Northern scum".

I see what you mean about the end of verse IX, though.

#173 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:23 AM:
analogic change always flows toward the regular form.

Counterexample: the word "sneak" acquired "snuck" as a past tense only in the last hundred years or so. Before that, only "sneaked" was considered correct. I learned this from Steven Pinker's book Words and Rules, which examines the question of irregular verb past tenses in great detail, and which I recommend to you.

#174 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 06:54 AM:

This looked like a potentially appropriate site for the season.

I personally especially like Rabbit 1.

#175 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 06:57 AM:

I especially liked the ones joined at the skull, Jill. Too bad my nephews are too old for teddy bears.

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 07:04 AM:

To Janet McConnaughey... "Billions of blue blistering barnacles!" That one too conveys Captain Haddock's personality even in translation. As for "millions de milliards", it means "millions of billions", which is a number he liked to prefix to various things, including thunderbolts falling over the city of Brest.

#177 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 07:46 AM:

The Scott Adams humour formula: I suspect that the 2/6 rule will have too many false positives to be really useful. Quantum mechanics is both clever and bizarre, but not terribly funny.

From that article:

Hobbes is essentially Tigger

Apaprt from the obvious, do they really have much in common? If anything, Calvin seems like a better match for Tigger.

#178 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:05 AM:

Victor S.: I live in Georgia, and can pick my own ripe peaches from a local orchard. Muahahaha. And of course, you're right on the money with the ripeness issue. Cf. sweet corn, for which the traditional advice is "don't pick it until the water's boiling."

One reason Moon and Stars watermelon fell out of commercial production (and nearly became extinct) is that it has a very brittle rind, and therefore is difficult to ship without breaking. Your best bet is to try to find a local grower, or a restaurant affiliated with Slow Food USA (Moon and Stars has been added to their Ark of Taste: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/raft/success_stories.html#6 --you can check the "local convivia" on the main page to see if there's a group near you). I can't garden any more because I moved from a tiny house with a tiny sunny spot in the front yard to a large house surrounded by oak trees (but now I can have dogs, so it's not all bad).

Re food writing: James Lileks' "Gallery of Regrettable Food". You'd like to think he's making this stuff up, but I can testify that in at least one case (canned half-pear filled with mayo topped with shredded cheese and a maraschino cherry) he isn't.

And to cleanse the palate after that one, Raymond Sokolov's "Why We Eat What We Eat"

#179 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:13 AM:

The force that opposes analogic change is sound change, and ALL words in a language are subject to that, regardless of how frequently they're used. This is why the verb 'to be' is so bloody irregular in almost every language. I doubt you'd be happy if people started saying 'be', 'beed', 'have beed'.

Well, no; in English the reason "to be" is so weird is something called "suppletion", in which different forms of a verb (or other word, but usually a verb) are not cognates. The Wikipedia article on the subject is brief, but gives a decent overview.

#180 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:32 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Haydent ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 12:49 AM:

Is a Haydent like a Hydrant or something entirely new and unexpected?

#181 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:34 AM:

Looking for poems for the Monosyllabification thread, I discovered that my copy of the Norton Anthology of English Lit, vol. 2, (which boasts several poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti which he really shouldn't have bothered to dig up) has not a single mention of G. K. Chesterton. WTH?

How does that even happen? I mean, I know he's not particularly in favor, I know he's not considered to have an easily identifiable masterwork, I know he's a dead white male. But so is Thomas Carlyle (64 total pg) and at least G. K. C. didn't hurl teacups at his wife. Okay, actually, I hate that kind of anti-feminist wankery, but this honestly has me puzzled. How, in a 2543 pg. anthology, is there not room for, I don't know, "Lepanto" or "The Ethics of Elfland" or a chapter from one of the novels or something? Is it a print error?

No Saki, either, dammit. Norton Anth. vol. 2, you are dead to me!

...vol. 1 is good, though.

Off to comfort myself with the Edwardian snark of "The Stuffed Owl" and its incomparable index:

Liverpool, rapture experienced at, 196
Maiden, feathered, uncontrolled appetites of, 59

#182 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:54 AM:

I had a job for a while in which I had no computer and numerous very slow periods, and thus spent a lot of time browsing through the desk dictionary. It referred to "be", charmingly, as a "defective" verb, with forms put together from three etymologically unrelated sources.

#183 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 10:03 AM:

I have a question for the editors here, and it may very well be unanswerable, but here goes:

Suppose you didn't know "Ullysses", but found it in the slush pile. You read the first three sentences, or, to be fair, the first page. Would you go on reading it? Would you buy it?

#184 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 10:13 AM:

There's a variant on the Maryland song which ends:

"Our song before was full of gore...
We hear that Union won the war!
We're sorry if we made you mad:
It was the only song we had."

I'm sure I read it right here on Making Light. I remember reading it, falling over laughing, and singing it to the rest of the family when they came in to see what was up. I think it was last Christmas in a thread on ghastly irritating Christmas songs, when someone said "O Tannenbaum" was a great tune but the words sucked.

I'm still singing bits of "O Maryland" around the house from time to time...

"I had a dog, his name was Jack,
I threw a stick, he brought it back.
My sister had a cat I think.
My mother had a kitchen sink."

#185 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 10:23 AM:

Well, no; in English the reason "to be" is so weird is something called "suppletion", in which different forms of a verb (or other word, but usually a verb) are not cognates.

"To go" is another suppletive verb, taking its past tense "went" in Modern English from Old English wendan, which we still see in archaisms like "to wend one's weary way." More amusing still, though, is that the form wendan replaced, eodon -- which shows up in Middle English sometimes, in things like "then Lancelot yede him on his hands and knees..." -- is also a suppletive form. "To go" had already lost its original past-tense form by the time that Bishop Ulfilas grabbed the Gothic language by the throat and forced a non-runic alphabet onto it.

(Sorry. I will go off on these tangents if I'm not stopped. The kids call it "mom's parlor trick", and have been known to ask me about random etymologies for the amusement of watching me take the philological bit in my teeth and run with it.)

#186 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 10:25 AM:

Paul Clarke:

Why do I now have an image of Tigger and Pooh in a little wagon at the top of a hill, about to go flying every-which-way? Tigger is all excited; Pooh, a touch more grounded.

Is it true that Tigger met Pooh when the former rigged a hunney sandwich trap?

#187 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 10:30 AM:

Does anybody know who writer W.J.Stuart was? Years ago, someone (Fred Pohl?) wrote an article in Andrew Porter's Starship/Algol about the Fifties novelization of Forbidden Planet and how it was quite good. My appreciation of the movie has increased with every viewing of it and that got me curious about the novelization. Yesterday I had my wife Susan look it up on ABEbooks although I expected it'd probably cost an arm and a leg. Not so. Which is a relief.

Anyway, from what I remember of the article, I got the sense that this W.J.Stuart was a real science-fiction person, but I've never heard of him/her anywhere else.

I smell a pen name.

#188 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 11:21 AM:

Is a Haydent like a Hydrant or something entirely new and unexpected?

I imagine it as more like a mordent; TNH with a slight hiccup, perhaps.

In a totally unrelated point:

Anyone in the NYC area like women? Stagefighting? Women stagefighting? We'll be going to the Sunday show.

#189 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 12:04 PM:

Re: verbs that have become more irregularized: "dove" as past tense for "dive," according to Merriam-Webster online, seems to have developed (by analogy to "drove") later than the original "dived," which is still often used; and I'm sure "pled" as past tense of "plead" is of more recent vintage than "pleaded," though Merriam-Webster online is not informative on the point.

#190 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 12:16 PM:

John M. Ford: Yep, it's not hard to carry things to the point where you might as well make up a batch of home-made macaroni and cheese and leave the box on the shelf. We have a nostalgic fondness for adding hot paprika and/or 2 cloves of garlic, run through a garlic press. It's too much garlic, but the first meal we ever made together in college was boxed M&C with about 6 cloves, since neither of us knew any better.

CHip: I've always found Annie's to be more expensive and worse-tasting, but of course tastes vary. I don't deny that the food industry searches for uniformity.

As for beer, my reply is Yeah, But.

By which I mean: We are by no means at a low point for availability of good beer, nor is the good beer supply curently diminishing. Great beer is, sadly, still rare.

I had the good fortune to be in Portland, OR around about the rise of brewpubs in Oregon; at the time, the local mass-market beer was Weinhard's, a local brew with a great deal to recommend it. Yes, they made a cheap line (Blitz beer, honest) for getting loggers drunk, but even college students avoided Blitz. At that time, Portland was almost the only place you could get a good beer in the US.

Today, it's still easy to get lousy beer; but you can get (some) good beer almost everywhere. Even more to the point, sales of mass-market beer have been dropping significantly of late. Sales of small-label beer are growing. The big breweries are falling apart under their own weight.

As for hops, I agree that "bittering hops" are a travesty. However, flavoring hops are still available and used in the (micro) industry. Since my favorite style of beer could be described as something like a dry-hopped mild, I suspect we share a taste in beer.

Which beer has been 'praised' for tasting like grapefruit rind, BTW? And by whom? I'd like to avoid both source and object if I can. Also, what currently-available beers would you recommend?

#191 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 12:35 PM:

"Dove" as pp of "dive" is American only, I think - certainly never hear it over here. "Pled" as well; I've only heard "pleaded". Also "snuck" - UK only has "sneaked".

Another weird one is "careered" - the verb used to describe something moving fast out of control - "the driver lost his grip on the wheel and the car careered across the road" - which I have seen in US text replaced with "careened" which normally means "to scrape the barnacles off the bottom of a ship".

And a Haydent is obviously the opposite of a Hayden. (cf did, didn't). Though I do like the idea of a fire haydent. It doesn't actually put the fire out itself, it just amends it into a more manageable and aesthetically pleasing form.

stross: (n) 1. mental condition of agitation induced by contemplation of rapid technological change. "Senior executives at IBM are suffering from unprecedented levels of stross."

macdonald: (v) p.p. of macdonnle, (v.t.): to overcome rhetorically with vast levels of often disturbing military, naval or medical knowledge. "The debate on HPV vaccination ended with the NIH representative completely macdonnling his critics".

#192 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 12:48 PM:

What's your favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol? Mine is Rowan Atkinson's.

#193 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 12:59 PM:

"Mine is Rowan Atkinson's."

Oh! Didn't know he'd done one.

I don't think there is a perfect, definitive adaption. They each tend to emphasize different bits of the story and character. Sometimes a generally lousy adaptation will get right a bit you don't find in others. Even the tedious musical version (Albert Finney?) had some good bits.

That said:

Best overall: The Alastair Sim as Scrooge version.

Best Scrooge: George C. Scott.

#194 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:06 PM:

Carrie S. - now I did not know that. But the creation of verbal irregularities in general is the result of sound change, and I expect the verb 'to be' in languages that have not been creolized as often as English has (i.e. all other languages, or nearly) follows this pattern.

Verbs that become "irregularized" are not doing so by analogic change. They may still be formed by analogy, or influenced by other forms. For example, the back-formation of the verb 'escalate' from the noun (originally a brand name) 'escalator' (itself a portmanteau* of 'escalier' (staircase) and 'elevator') was done by analogy to 'innovate', 'innovator' and similar terms, but I wouldn't call that analogic change.

Similarly, the word 'template' was influenced by the word 'plate' into its current spelling (from older 'templet', which meant a small temple), but again that's not analogic change per se. I don't think so, anyway; my linguistics degree is 25 years old at this point, so I may have that wrong. And nobody taught me about the suppletion of 'to be', for example, so maybe I'm full of shit.

*Yes, I know that a true portmanteau is a completely separate word that stands in for two or more others, like French 'au' for 'a le'. The kind mentioned here is more common, and I think we can do Lewis Carroll at least this much honor, by using the term in the sense he used it.

#195 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:09 PM:

I kind of cheated about the Atkinson version. It's a spoof on the story. It starts with Ebenezer Blackadder being known as the nicest man in England. Then the Ghost of Christmas (played by Robbie Coltrane) shows up, mistakenly thinking that this is the home of Ebenezer Scrooge. And it's downhill from there.

As for the other versions... My problem with Scott's way of playing Scrooge is that he acted like he'd have kicked the Devil's ass if the latter had shown up. Thus, when Marley's ghost appeared, I wasn't quite convinced that this Scrooge would really have cowered in fear. Sim struck just the right note, mean, but kind of gleeful about it.

#196 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:14 PM:

I thought a boat with, e.g. the centerboard pulled up also careened. That is, drifted downwind instead of going straight the way it was pointed. Not researched, just learned [or invented] in childhood.

"to lie over, when sailing on the wind."

I was, it seems, wrong. Still, a careening car might well beach itself or otherwise develop a list.

#197 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:20 PM:

I just want to say that "The Southwestern Canon" (which Patrick sidelighted as "Harold Bloom, the Canon, and Chili") is a terrifyingly accurate reproduction of Bloom's voice. I didn't laugh when I read it; I was too far gone for that. All I could do was squeak. Patrick, who was standing there watching as I read it, did the laughing for both of us.

#198 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:21 PM:

My favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol is, without a shadow of a doubt, the Muppet Christmas Carol. I think it "gets" the ghosts to an extent uncommon to the adaptations, and I find myself singing the songs all throughout the season. When I'm especially happy I'll unconsciously break out into "It feels like Christmas".

#199 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:28 PM:

Does anybody know who writer W.J.Stuart was?
Anyway, from what I remember of the article, I got the sense that this W.J.Stuart was a real science-fiction person, but I've never heard of him/her anywhere else.

No question that W.J. Stewart has been used as a pen name by more than one person with an SF and movie connection per Google (e.g. Philip J. MacDonald)

I am inclined to credit reports that: W.J. STUART is Jack (John Stuart) Williamson for purposes of Forbidden Planet. It's been suggested looking in Wonder's Child for support or contradiction.

#200 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:29 PM:

I've never seen the Muppet version of Dickens's story because my wife refuses to be in the same room if anything Muppet-related is on.

I've seen the musical version with Albert Finney, which I thought was OK. The Reginald Owen interpretation didn't quite work form me. I missed the Patrick Stewart one. I did like the Scott version's Ghosts of Christmases Past and Present, one played by Edward Woodward (yes, the Equalizer), the other played by Susannah York.

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:32 PM:

So, Clark, WJ Stuart was the writer's equivalent of Hollywood's Alan Smythee? And this novelization of Forbidden Planet might have been written by Jack Williamson? Interesting.

#202 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:35 PM:

A song from the musical ACC is currently being used as a commercial. "Thank you very much," they sing, and repeat it, then "That's the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for me!"

Those who know the context in which this appears in Scrooge! can only shudder. Well, and laugh, as we did when MicroSoft, right after the "Where do you want to go today?" in that ad campaign, used a clip from Mozart's Requiem: "Confutatis maledictis," sang the chorus, and completed their answer to the question with "flammis acribus addictis."

#203 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:39 PM:

All right, Xopher, Latin translation time...

I don't know if it's that recent a trend, but using a pop song without regard to its original meaning has been going on for some time. My favorite example is Lennon(?)'s Come Together for telecommunications. Wasn't the original about a cult leader?

#204 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:41 PM:

So, Clark, WJ Stuart was the writer's equivalent of Hollywood's Alan Smythee?

Perhaps, that's not my understanding.

I'd guess just some coincidental picks - Jack Williamson anagramming his real name and some perhaps Jacobin affectation for MacDonald who had a Scots connection and so it goes. If Pohl did, it's easy to see him praising an uncredited work by Williamson

#205 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:42 PM:

I think that I need a set of those dolls for my cube - QC sometimes calls for terrorizing people.

#206 ::: Tad Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:12 PM:

I want to put in a plug for the animated McGoo version of Dickens. Not all parts are good--my kids usually ff past Belle's long tear-jerker. But many other bits have become bywords--razzleberry dressing, and the song sung at the pawn-shop. And many of Jim Backus' line-readings are surprisingly sensitive.

Must say I have never liked Rowan Atkinson much, though more in Blackadder than anything else. Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent is side-splitting. And the real genius is Baldric. Every scene a masterclass in underplaying for best effect.

#207 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:15 PM:

Thanks, Clark. I'm going to have to dig up Cinefantastique's special issue about Forbidden Planet and pay extra attention to the story's origin. Sure, it was inspired by Shakespeare, but what about the SF aspect? Aside from Earl Holliman as the comedic relief, the movie was so smart about its use of concepts that I wonder if a real SF writer was involved.

#208 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:29 PM:

"Confutatis maledictis ... " = "When the wicked are confounded / Doomed to flames of woe unbounded" (trans. J.M. Neale).

#209 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:31 PM:

I also remember hearing that movement from Mozart's Requiem in a car ad.

A few months ago, there was another car ad that played an incredibly ponderous version of "Drunken Sailor" that had me cracking up almost every time I heard it. I was in the middle of a rant about why there are no marketers with any kind of cultural education when someone informed me that the arrangement of "Drunken Sailor" was actually familiar to most people as a theme from "Wide World of Sports" or somesuch. Huh. Didn't keep me from associating the Nissan dealership with shaving his belly with a rusty razor.

As for the misuse of the requiem mass, marketers must figure that those people with a certain amount of exposure to classical music are not susceptible to 30-second commercials anyway. Doesn't explain why it showed up in X-Men 2, or Elizabeth though.

#210 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:41 PM:

Garlic or paprika on mac & cheese (with or without sour cream) sounds very yum. Shall have to try.

Serge:
My [least] favorite of those was John Fogerty's Fortunate Son for Union Bay (or some such) jeans. "Some folks are born made to wave the flag / Yeah, they're red, white and blue", then omitting the next two lines.

Also, having a Christian pop group (Sixpence None The Richer) signing a song possibly about heroin use (this mau just be specualation) to market Ortho-Tri-Cylen Lo birth control pills was priceless irony. "There she goes again", indeed.

Nice comment page on this subject at Songs in ads

#211 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:43 PM:

Rumor has it Robbie came to the Fatal Planet short story late and that Jack Williamson had much input as the story was considered a movie treatment from the beginning by the authors. Sold to MGM as such rather than picked up from print publication?

I don't know how the dates fit filing the serial numbers off Asimov's Robbie for first publication of the Asimov story and later publication in the collection I Robot.

Forry Ackerman is rumored to have taken an interest in the story of the story if anybody here is in a position to go by and ask him.

#212 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:48 PM:

Lila, thank you for "Jumping Frenchmen of Maine." For no reason I'd want to have to explain, it put me in mind of two other possible particles. You can see the results there.

#213 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:48 PM:

Sorry for the double post, but it just occured to me that the "spread" in the first comment in this thread was the "one beat word" version of margerine.

6 c. wet from sink
4 Big Spoons spread
1/4 c. milk

(Teaspoons would be "Wee Spoons". Ounces is "lbs over ten-and-six". Pepper is "Sneeze".)

#214 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:50 PM:

Really bad music choice in ads: 'Sixteen Tons' in the ad, for GE, with the hunks and supermodels doing the 'mining'. Either the ad people are totally clueless, or one of them is subversive.

On the other hand, I remember the Golden Grain radio ads with arias: Just Look, Twenty-Nine Elephants (Triumphal March from Aida) is the first that comes to mind.

#215 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:55 PM:

I'd translate that as "When the wicked are consigned to flames of woe." The next line is "Call me among the blessed," but they never played that in the commercial!

#216 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:00 PM:

And that line from Scrooge was used for a Microsoft ad? Okedoke.

#217 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:05 PM:

OK - thank you all for re-implanting Maryland, My Maryland on top of O Tannenbaum. It took me years to get that out of my head, ever since I heard a story on All Things Considered sometime in the mid 90's.

Although I do like Jo's alternate last verse, which made me spray too-hot Earl Grey up into my previously clogged, now scaleded sinuses.

#218 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:11 PM:

So did Patrick Stewart actually do an ACC version, or was that just a reference to the 3 timelined series finale of TNG?

Robbie Coltrane is brilliant everywhere he appears in Black Adder, not just that one Christmas Special.

And Serge, I'm afraid you're conflating multiple thread topics, now...that line is from Mozart's Requiem, not ACC.

#219 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:12 PM:

Huh: "I just grazed across this website, so I'm not familiar with the culture here.... so, what does any this chatter about varieties of grease have to do with the quote by James Joyce? '–And going forth he met Butterly.'"

Grease. Butterly. Just so. Be welcome; stay a while.

It wouldn't be wrong to describe Making Light's open threads as contextless -- formally speaking, they're threads not tied to a specific post -- but there's always some context kicking around underfoot. For instance, they're a place to post comments about items in the Particles and Sidelights lists, and to mention cool links seen elsewhere. They're also full of bits and pieces referencing earlier discussions. Try not to be alarmed by the automatic linkage of dinosaurs and sodomy.

The James Joyce quote is there because it's cool. There's generally a bit of something-or-other at the start of a new thread. Open thread 54 had "Potrzebie, frammistan, excelsior!" Open Thread 53 said, "As you know, Bob, fifty-three is the smallest prime which is neither the sum of nor the difference between powers of the first two prime numbers."

It helps raise our spirits.

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:13 PM:

I didn't mind Robbie being in the movie, Clark. He was fine as a source of humor, especially when Altaira wants him to make her a dress, and he responds with an exasperated "Again?" before asking if she wants the garment radiation-proof. It's Earl Holliman who makes me wince every time.

As for the reference to the Laws of Robotics, I see that as a homage, as another sign of intelligence. Heck, getting Williamson involved was a sign of intelligence too.

#221 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:14 PM:

Clash in head this day.

"Where do you want to go today?" shows up in "Rudie Can't Fail." I never could get a good punchline for that, though.

#222 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:15 PM:

jhlipton - Thanks for the link. I get POd when advertisers strip or selectively use lyrics. HP deserves some credit for actually using songs like The Cure's Pictures of You without editing in their digital imaging campaign (the one with the moving picture frames).

Of course, it's jarring to hear music I grew up with and have fond feelings about in advertising, but it does get my attention, which is what advertising's supposed to do. It also tells me that I'm in the white-hot center of the demo that they're targeting. :-\

#223 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:23 PM:

Carrie S. - now I did not know that. But the creation of verbal irregularities in general is the result of sound change, and I expect the verb 'to be' in languages that have not been creolized as often as English has (i.e. all other languages, or nearly) follows this pattern.

Hmmm, you mean like French? You know: je suis, tu es, il est, nous sommes...

;)

Seriously, though, as I understand it, "to be" is one of the big offenders in pretty much all the Indo-European languages. The Wikipedia article also mentions "to go" in all of French, Italian and Spanish. I'm not sure about Lt. facere and its descendants, though.

#224 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:53 PM:

Teaspoons are small spoons. The wee spoon is the half-teaspoon measure. The quarter-teaspoon is the least spoon. If you have an eighth-teaspoon measure, it's the least wee bit of a fleck of a spoon.

#225 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:53 PM:

The French present of "to be" reflects a (pre-Latin) regular form with an es- root (the initial e got dropped from some forms over the years).

However, the French preterit is directly derived from the Latin perfect, which is from a separate verb ("je fus" from "fui").

The Latin verb for "to carry" is heavily irregular along suppletion lines: "fero, ferre, tuli, latum".

#226 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:54 PM:

Carrie S: Yeah, French irregular verbs are famous. That being said, French as she is spoke was welded together from a lot of regional variations more or less by government action; I'm not sure you could say it hasn't been creolized. But I'm way out on a limb here; would anyone care to have a go with the Saw of Correction?

'To be' is certainly messy in Latin, as is 'to go': eo, is, it. Facere is regular, but has a less generic meaning: 'to make' almost always works for a gloss.

#227 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:55 PM:

French irregular verbs are famous? No bleeping kidding.

#228 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:57 PM:

Speaking of Mozart, Doc Spiegelberg over at Musical Perceptions has up a hilarious simulacra of what a response to the Maestro's application for a modern faculty position might look like.

#229 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:04 PM:

(The following excerpt from my favorite Biblical drama ties together Christ, the earlier comments about Latin, and the fun of verbs in languages other than English.)

CENTURION: What's this, then? 'Romanes Eunt Domus'? 'People called Romanes they go the house'?
BRIAN: It-- it says, 'Romans, go home'.
CENTURION: No, it doesn't. What's Latin for 'Roman'? Come on!
BRIAN: Aah!
CENTURION: Come on!
BRIAN: 'R-- Romanus'?
CENTURION: Goes like...?
BRIAN: 'Annus'?
CENTURION: Vocative plural of 'annus' is...?
BRIAN: Eh. 'Anni'?
CENTURION: 'Romani'. 'Eunt'? What is 'eunt'?
BRIAN: 'Go'. Let--
CENTURION: Conjugate the verb 'to go'.
BRIAN: Uh. 'Ire'. Uh, 'eo'. 'Is'. 'It'. 'Imus'. 'Itis'. 'Eunt'.
CENTURION: So 'eunt' is...?
BRIAN: Ah, huh, third person plural, uh, present indicative. Uh, 'they go'.
CENTURION: But 'Romans, go home' is an order, so you must use the...?
BRIAN: The... imperative!
CENTURION: Which is...?
BRIAN: Umm! Oh. Oh. Um, 'i'. 'I'!
CENTURION: How many Romans?
BRIAN: Ah! 'I'-- Plural. Plural. 'Ite'. 'Ite'.
CENTURION: 'Ite'.
BRIAN: Ah. Eh.
CENTURION: 'Domus'?
BRIAN: Eh.
CENTURION: Nominative?
BRIAN: Oh.
CENTURION: 'Go home'? This is motion towards. Isn't it, boy?
BRIAN: Ah. Ah, dative, sir! Ahh! No, not dative! Not the dative, sir! No! Ah! Oh, the... accusative! Accusative! Ah! 'Domum', sir! 'Ad domum'! Ah! Oooh! Ah!
CENTURION: Except that 'domus' takes the...?
BRIAN: The locative, sir!
CENTURION: Which is...?!
BRIAN: 'Domum'.
CENTURION: 'Domum'.
BRIAN: Aaah! Ah.
CENTURION: 'Um'. Understand?
BRIAN: Yes, sir.
CENTURION: Now, write it out a hundred times.
BRIAN: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
CENTURION: Hail Caesar. If it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your balls off.
BRIAN: Oh, thank you, sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar and everything, sir!

#230 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:06 PM:

Haydents again! I keep fixing them, but they just keep popping up again.

Patrick, is there some way we can root this out permanently?

#231 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:10 PM:

Speaking of badly chosen music for commercials: there's one about retirement planning now that has "Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing" playing in the background.

#232 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:10 PM:

Serge, I love that scene. It's right up there with the apology scene from A Fish Called Wanda:

"I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact and was in no way fair comment and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future."

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:16 PM:

And there's the scene about the Three Wise Men. And the one where the People's Front of Judea are bitching about what the Roman Empire had ever done for them, and also about the other anti-Roman splinter factions. And the opening credits. And... And... I can say that this is one movie they'll never show on regular TV unless they want the TV stations burned to the ground.

#234 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:18 PM:

The Jumping Frenchmen of Maine puts me in mind of the Fainting Goats of Tennessee...

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/faintinggoats.html (video clip)
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jimknapp/goats.html
http://www.faintinggoat.com/

Awww, cuteness!

#235 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Regarding pop music in commercials, I am not sure how I feel about that ad for diamond jewelry that uses "Under Pressure". Is it clever, or clueless? Hmm.

#236 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:26 PM:

While New Jersey has authorized a bear hunt, here in California, where the bear is our state animal, we have far more frightening beasties loose -

Feral Cows!!!

I find I am inappropriately delighted - although perhaps not as inappropriate as my giggling while reading about that rabid kitten in Sunday's paper.

#237 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:28 PM:

Ah, that movie! My medieval-European-history professor ran that one by us, as part of the necessary-background-information part of the class: he (a classical-history professor) felt that we couldn't understand the middle ages without some knowledge of the last centuries of the Roman empire. Ave, salutamus!

#238 ::: Joanna ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:31 PM:

jill smith: i'm rather fond of the unfortunate animal of the month club. as a bonus, the artist is local to me! unfortunately, she seems to have removed most of the example pictures from the details page - presumably because she's overwhelmed with people wanting strange presents, and doesn't want to give them too many ideas.
which reminds me, i need to email her again about the alien chick. (baby chicken, not teenaged girl.)

#239 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:35 PM:

"Confutatis maledictis," sang the chorus, and completed their answer to the question with "flammis acribus addictis."

Hey, an opportunity for pedantry in Latin. (I was too late for the me fecit discussion on Mike Ford's thread.) These are ablative absolutes, so as I understand it the conventional translation would be something like "with the wicked having been silenced / and sacrificed to the bitter flames".

As someone pointed out, fero, ferre, tuli, latum is the standard example of suppletion in Latin (it's cognate, in the present system, to the English "to bear"). In Latin eo (to go) is regular, with just a few minor sound changes (eis -> is); sum, esse, fui is both defective (no passive perfect participle - "to have been been") and formed by suppletion (sum / fui). I think that's right, anyway. I only studied Latin and not linguistics, so I may be wrong on lots of this.

Just as a footnote to the Strine discussion, and pseudonyms, isn't Cordwainer Smith's "Norstrilia" a Strine version of North Australia (or New Australia - I can't remember)?

#240 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:36 PM:

I thought that the most-used verbs in all languages were least regular. I have a vague memory that people claimed "the oldest verbs are least regular" but I would guess that "the most used verbs are least regularized."

It makes sense to me that irregularities get hammered out first in the more obscure words- if the conjugation of "Equivocate" was "I quivoke, you equivocet, he/she equivocals" it would be battered into regularity in a generation or less. It would become a pedants' darling like "trivium" or "octopodes."*

Whereas any English speaker will recognise "I am" as part of "to be", because they hear and see and use it hundreds of times a day.

*It occurs to me that many of the distinctions made in Strunk and White have been steamrollered by the evolution of the language- "will" vs. "shall", and "like" vs. "as" come to mind. Am I too eager to declare them dead?

#241 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:37 PM:

Victor S: I really miss the Flavr Saver genetically engineered tomato, which tasted garden-ripe when bought from the supermarket. Alas.
Are you sure you're remembering a real Flavr Savr and a real, garden-ripe tomato? The Flavr Savr I remember tasted like an oatmeal-cardboard hybrid. The best thing that could be said about it was that it tasted wet.

RE: "Vox Day": Wow, how innovative and intellectually rigorous his argument is. Such a thinker, that boy.

#242 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:46 PM:

What was the title of that David Drake SF/historical novel where some Roman soldiers have to ally themselves with the local Germans because there's some nasty alien out there? Was it Birds of Prey?

#243 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:01 PM:

I wish I knew how to use "shall" correctly.

Another quaint custom that I wish was still in use is the construction "said I" instead of "I said." Were there ever any rules for that, or was it just whatever the writer thought sounded good?

(I guess pirates still say "says I.")

#244 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:03 PM:

Teresa, if you're using Firefox and you get a little pop-up box with possible names once you start to type, select the "Haydent" one and press "Shift-Delete." It'll go away and not present itself again.

If you're not using FF, I have no answer, although it might work in other browsers; who knows?

#245 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:09 PM:

I begin to think raping Vox Day would not be an immoral act.

Disgusting, yes, but not immoral.

#246 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:20 PM:

Bad for your own soul, Xopher.

#247 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:35 PM:

Aconite: Yep. Tomato smell, tomato flavor, bought at a local grocery store, and beat out the garden tomato (admitedly not perfectly ripe) that one of our group heads brought in for a taste test; even he, that old Luddite, admitted defeat. In retrospect, that incident may not have moved my career at the genome center forward... but memorable, yes.

Not to say that your experience isn't also authentic; one of the problems they had was mis-handling through the distribution chain. The whole idea of that tomato was to allow it to ripen (gain sugars and flavor compounds) while remaining hard & green and packable (no breakdown of cell walls). They grew the tomatoes on the vine for something like an extra 30 days over normal supermarket tomato times, then harvested them, packed 'em off to local distributors where they got ethylene'd like any other supermarket tomato, then sent to market, turning red and soft on the way. If some store (or distributor) got them below safe tomato temperature (42F, I think), all that effort would be lost.

#248 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:36 PM:

Well, that would be more or less the same as immoral.* I was going by his alleged morality. It's people like him who make me understand why people like to believe in Hell.

*I believe, for example, that it's immoral to have sex with a willing person who you're not attracted to because you want them to look favorably upon you. Or even because you like them and want to make them happy.

#249 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:38 PM:

On a completely different topic, for Jim MacDonald - did we ever get a response from Charles Stross on the annotated jump bag list?

#250 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:47 PM:

Today's WashPost KidsPost has an article and photos of embroidery depicting the story of a Polish Jew who escaped the camps.

#251 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 05:56 PM:

tnh: "Bad for your own soul, Xopher."

But, but, but... he said it was okay... And if Vox Day says it's okay, than who am I to stand in the way of his judgement? I'm merely defering to his (clearly superior) grasp of Judeo-Christian morality. I would become but a humble instrument (a tool, if you will) of God's Will, an avenging angel with a flaming dildo of Divine Justice!

#252 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 06:06 PM:

I remember the Flavr Savr but not being that favorably impressed with it (from State Market in Davis--not only local to the technology but a local market noted for good produce).

Ours ranked as an all right store tomato, nothing special.

#253 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 06:07 PM:

Serge: Birds Of Prey sounds familiar, yes.

#254 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 06:34 PM:

I thought that the most-used verbs in all languages were least regular. I have a vague memory that people claimed "the oldest verbs are least regular" but I would guess that "the most used verbs are least regularized."

The technical term for what are commonly called in English "irregular" verbs is "strong" (as opposed to "weak" -- aka "regular") verbs. These are the verbs in the various Germanic languages that form their tenses by changing their root vowel rather than by changing the ending. They aren't actually irregular, in the sense of being unpredictable or inconsistent; there are, if I'm recalling this correctly after all the time that's elapsed since I last took notes on the Germanic strong verb system, six different classes of strong verbs, sorted out by what the root vowel of the verb is and how it changes. These do tend to be, as a general rule, the oldest verbs in the language -- most of the English strong verbs have been with the language since proto-Germanic times -- and also as a general rule, new or borrowed verbs get assigned to the weak (aka "regular") verb system. But not always.

#255 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 06:45 PM:

Thanks, cd. I googled it and that's how I came across that Drake title, but the web says it's a 1999 book while I remember reading a review of it in the early Eighties. Maybe 1999 is the reprint date. Thanks again.

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 06:51 PM:

Got Leigh Brackett's Sea-Kings of Mars from England yesterday. There is some overlap with The Best of Leigh Brackett, but I read the latter 30 years ago so basically I have a sure-fire great book to read during the Holidays. Yay!

#257 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 07:41 PM:

Anybody know Slavic languages?

In Russian, there is no present tense of "to be," a totally different verb gets called in when there must be one. The past goes "on byl" "ona byla" "ono bylo" "oni byli" and the future "ja budu" "ty budes'" "on bude" "my budeme" "vy budete" "oni budut". (In Cyrilllic, obviously.)

Slovak has the same past (with "o" instead of "y"), adds a present ("ja som" "ty si" "on je" "my sme" "vy ste" "oni su") and changes the future slightly ("ja budem" "oni budu").

I'm told that other Slavic languages are similar. Are these all from the same root?

#258 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 07:43 PM:

I forgot to say, one of the fun things about Slavics is that the past tense doesn't conjugate by person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) but by gender (masculine, feminine, neuter, and plural). (Yes I know plural isn't a gender. I didn't invent this system.)

#259 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:00 PM:

Eric: I suspect the diamond merchants don't intend the music to be "Under Pressure," the excellent song by David Bowie and Queen.

I suspect they intend it to be Vanilla Ice's appropriation of the signature riff in "Ice Ice Baby," what with "ice" being slang for diamonds and all.

We do indeed live in a debased age.

#260 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:10 PM:

Rikibeth: Having tried to ignore the existence of Vanilla Ice as much as possible, I am not surprised that that possibility didn't occur to me. Now that you mention it, they didn't use any sung lyrics, just that riff. Damn. And here I thought that maybe they were actually making a clever reference to diamonds' high-pressure subterranean origins.

#261 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:17 PM:

My favorite bit of A Fish Called Wanda...very possibly my favorite couple minutes of any movie ever...is Wanda's rant to Otto immediately following the semi-defenestration apology.

WANDA: I was dealing with something delicate, Otto. He was going to tell me where the loot is and if they're going to come and arrest you. And you come loping in like Rambo without a jock strap and you dangle him out a fourth-story window. Now was that smart?
OTTO: Okay...
WANDA: Was it shrewd? Was it good tactics, or was it stupid?
OTTO: Don't call me stupid.
WANDA: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?
OTTO: Apes don't read philosophy.
WANDA: Yes they do, Otto, they just don't understand it. Now let me correct you on a few things. Aristotle was not Belgian. (OTTO scoffs) The central message of Buddhism is not "every man for himself."
OTTO: You read...!
WANDA: And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up. Now. You have just assaulted the one man who can keep you out of jail and make you rich. So what are you going to do about it, huh? What would an intellectual do? What would Plato do?
OTTO: 'pologize...
WANDA: What?
OTTO: APOLOGIZE!
WANDA: Right!
OTTO: (formally) I'm sorry.
WANDA: No. Not to me. To him. And make it good, or we're dead.

I'm also an admirerer of the Muppet Christmas Carol, though IMHO the music in all the Muppet movies took a nose dive after Jim Henson's death. Still. Muppets make everything better. Weezer videos, boring talk shows, whatever. The hideous train wreck that was the last season of Angel, redeemed for one brief shining moment by Puppet!Angel. I hear Alias is ending this season; since they have nothing left to lose, they should really have a Muppet episode. Like, Sydney gets given some kind of hallucinogen that causes her to see the members of another CIA splinter cell as Muppets. And then spends much of the briefing scene giggling helplessly, as everyone acts puzzled. Miss Piggy would be so much fun wearing all of Syd's wigs and doing karate...Marshall talking tech with Bunsen and Honeydew, or Gonzo facing down and baffling Jack and Sloane, and Kermit striking James Bond poses and occasionally flailing his arms in panic. Plus, big musical number! You can't tell me the whole cast wouldn't jump at the chance. Victor Garber used to do musicals... (/worryingly detailed fantasy) And hell, it's no less unlikely than Mind Control Orchids and the Giant Flaming Ball of Russian Zombification.

#262 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:17 PM:

Serge, I love that scene.

I love it too, but that's partly because I now teach Latin (and I'm increasingly convinced that the horrible Victorian schoolmaster method is the way to go). But this is partly because I like the grammar, which seems to be a minority stance among Latin teachers nowadays.

Still, you probably won't want to know that the locative case of domus is actually domi; the Latin they end up with is correct, but all that happens is that while "motion towards" always requires the accusative, place names (plus domus and rus) drop the preposition. AFAIR, the fact that these are also the words which have a locative case is not a part of the explanation. (Locative = "at [that place]".)

Life of Brian was shown without much controversy on TV in the UK. And the more I learn about Early Christianity, the more accurate it looks. They would also show The Meaning of Life on British TV, which is far more generally offensive (but possibly sufficiently ironic as to squeeze by).

"Satires which the censor understands are rightly prohibited."

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:46 PM:

Something tells me that that Latin-teaching scene in Life of Brian was inspired by personal and painful experiences of all involved.

Sure, candle, the movie may have been shown in the UK without a big fuss, but the UK is a den of sissy socialism. Or something. Can you imagine gutless American TV showing that movie, even with the naughty bits taken out?

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:49 PM:

I've seen A Fish Called Wanda only once, Brooke, but I definitely remember that exchange. But the transcript doesn't accurately convey the stupidity of Kevin Kline's Otto. Whe he says 'stupid', it should be written 'stoopid'.

#265 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 09:18 PM:

Victor S:

I will grant you that beer in this country is no longer in the parlous state that it once was; on the other hand, it fell harder and earlier, and was bottomed out for a long time.

I can't point to names because praising citrus character in beer is something I tend to see in brewpubs -- I usually taste bottled beers rather than reading about them. But as an example of a horrible bottled type, did you taste last year's Sierra Nevada Bigfoot? It was the most dreadful malt beverage I've ever tasted, and I've been to a session on analyzing flaws in homebrew (although I admit to chickening out at one point: I didn't taste the lightstruck beer after being able to smell it from several feet away). Note also that finishing hops are not nearly universal; after a brewery tour I found out the reason I didn't like Old Dominion is that they finish with bittering hops (pellets, yet!) that just don't smell or taste good.

The thing is, I \like/ hops in reasonable proportion; my tastes run to English bitter, which is why I shirked Interaction setup last summer to get to the advance and first open sessions of GBBF. In this area I still mourn Commonwealth (Yorkshire-style brewpub), and like Gritty McDuff's Best Bitter, Tremont Ale (available as real ale in some bars), sometimes Old Thumper(?) (wild boar on the label), and after that look at what's available this week that sounds interesting. I'm not a supertaster, but I have almost sworn off west-coast beers as they all seem too citrusy for me.

#266 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 09:31 PM:

Verbs:

Spanish manages the amusing trick of having two different irregular verbs have the same preterite (one of the past tenses). "Fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuistes, fueron" is either "I was, you were, s/he was, we were, you were, they were" or "I [etc.] went." The present tenses are, respectively, "ser" and "ir".

I'll grant, for example, sing/sang/sung as a regular pattern, but "am, are, is/was, were" as forms of "be" isn't any pattern. (At this point I will merely mention fero, Latin and Classical Greek for "carry", which attracted past and future tenses from two other verb stems in Greek (producing the principal parts "fero, oiso, einengka") and another two in Latin ("fero, feri, tuli, latum"), for a total of five distinct stems on what was presumably a single verb back in the ancestral centrum Indo-European. [Note--I do not vouch for my Latin spelling, and the Greek is fast-and-dirty transliteration.]

It's not just English that follows other languages down back alleys for their vocabulary, though English is particularly good at it.

#267 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 10:16 PM:

Cleese's exact same schoolmaster character appears in different dress - or undress - in the Python sketch where he instructs totally uninterested schoolboys in sexual technique by demonstrating it with his wife. (The bed pulls down from the ceiling)

Now, that's offensive. For it to also be achingly, killingly funny, you have to have been schooled in an English-style public school with English-style public schoolmasters. I was.

#268 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 11:56 PM:

Serge - yeah, I know the UK is a different case entirely - although I'm still having to get the hang of how different it actually is. Luckily I have cable, but I suspect there are larger chunks cut out of movies on normal TV than in the UK. Or perhaps I've been watching the wrong movies.

Do you think they would show Pasolini's "Gospel According to Matthew"? It's played pretty straight (no pun intended), but Pasolini would no doubt be suspect as a gay Marxist poet...

As for preterites (and aren't they vocabulary items like "did" - the thing you form the perfect tense with, as opposed to the past participle "done"), you can illustrate Vicki's Spanish example with "wrought": it serves for two different English verbs, "work" and "wreak". Not that sentences involving either in that sense are all that common now.

He wrought his magic and with it wrought havoc.

#269 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:25 AM:

candle, the most common usage of "wrought" these days is probably "wrought iron" which is, oddly enough, used quite a bit for cast iron or wrought steel, even for cast aluminum, but rarely for actual wrought iron.

Don't mind me; I've been shopping for fences (the landscaping items, not the people of a certain profession).

#270 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:34 AM:

Serge -

Merci bien for l'explication de "milliards". What little I have had of French is some 30 years old, and more hole than rust. The bits that remain most intact are songs I learned in the after-school class Wednesdays when I was in grades 3-5. They include those jaunty bloody ditties, "Ne pleure pas, Jeannette" and "Il etait un petit navire" (though we only learned the first couple verses of the latter, and never got to the becalming, let alone the debate about whether the cabin boy should be fried, sauteed or fricasseed.)

#271 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:44 AM:

hlipton -

>>Is it true that Tigger met Pooh when the former rigged a hunney sandwich trap?

If memory serves, the only honey trap in the Real, non-disnified, Pooh books is the one for heffalumps (which my own niece, in the high and far-off days, called effieshits). I *think* Tigger simply shows up in the forest, bouncing about and trying this food and that, none of which he cares for. But it's been a few years since I last read them.

#272 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:54 AM:

Brooke -

The Stuffed Owl reminds me of one of my lost, lamented paperbacks - Pegasus Descending, compiled by X.J. Kennedy. It includes some items also found in The Stuffed Owl, but also much post-Victorian poetry.

#273 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 01:02 AM:

candle -

I think my favorite lines may be

But lo! there surges forth a shriek
From hill to hill, from creek to creek -


I rather suspect that a surging shriek would sound something like ayyyyiiieeeeEEEE!

#274 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 01:07 AM:

Why do I get the feeling that if I read the latest from Pox Day, I shall be running to the bookcase to get out Iain Bank's Complicity to read afterwards?

#275 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 04:43 AM:

Rikibeth, Eric - well, the song in the diamond ad read to me as definitely "Under Pressure". I mean, the guy's wandering around imagining that he sees all these signs saying "Ask Her", indicating that he feels under pressure to propose. I don't think they intended anything more than the linkage of "pressure" to his situation, but if you examine the lyrics of the song within that context, it supposes an interesting ambivalence the guy might feel about the situation. After all,

Pressure pressing down on me
Under pressure
That burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

seems pretty clearly about breaking up, not getting married. But later lyrics,

Why can’t we give love one more chance?
Why can’t we give love give love give love?
Give love give love give love give love give love
Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care
For people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way
Of caring about ourselves

suggests that that the pressure of love might be enough to create change in a positive way (turning something into a life-long relationship, and even creating change in the individual), much the way (to link it to the explicit subject of the ad) that carbon is converted to diamond under pressure.

But then again, I could be reading too much into a the use of a catchy riff.

#276 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 04:54 AM:

Sandy: no, you're right and I am wrong. 'Careen' doesn't mean to clean the hull, it means to lie the ship over preparatory to doing so - so I suppose that an out of control car could be described as careening (especially if doing that up on two wheels thing as seen in The Starsky of the Hutch).

#277 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 04:56 AM:

Pooh met Tigger when he showed up at Pooh's door in the middle of the night.

It was Calvin who caught Hobbes with a tuna fish sandwich trap.

#278 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 05:30 AM:

Pasolini would no doubt be suspect as a gay Marxist poet... I wouldn't know. That does sound like a Monty Python skit.

#279 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 05:35 AM:

"Il etait un petit navire" (though we only learned the first couple verses of the latter, and never got to the becalming, let alone the debate about whether the cabin boy should be fried, sauteed or fricasseed.)

Hmm... That, Janet, sounds like your typical French song for kids. My mother-in-law was shocked when I translated the lyrics of alouette, gentille alouette. It involves a lot of plucking of feathers from various body parts. While the bird is still alive.

#280 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 05:39 AM:

I've been catching very brief snippets of Dark Kingdom on the Skiffy Channel. It all happens very quickly so I can't tell if I'll like this take on the Nibelung. Does anybody know if Diane Duane and Peter Morwood approve of what was done with their script?

#281 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 06:46 AM:

Back in the days when dotcoms strode through the land, there was a wonderful one called Homegrocer.com that specialized in grocery delivery. They were eventually bought by a much larger outfit called Webvan that managed to blow all their cash building a distribution system instead of delivering food (insert bias here). Anyway, when the deal was closing Homegrocer execs lived in fear that someone at Webvan would ask what the bouncy little tune in the Homegrocer ads was ("Would you like to have something to eat? Would you like to have something that's sweet?") and who recorded it.

Ah, yes. A grocery ad featuring "Would You Like To Have Something To Eat" by The Alfred Packer Band. Yes, it is about what you think it's about. And it's pretty hard to top when it comes to inappropriate music...

#282 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 06:49 AM:

At least, using Copeland to advertise farm products is not an inapproriate use of music. Unlike that car commercial using Janis Joplin's Won't You Buy Me A Mercedes?...

#283 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 07:27 AM:

My favourite piece of inappropriate music in an ad was the Microsoft campaign for Windows, where they used the Stones song "Start me up":

If you start me up
If you start me up I'll never stop

That's bad enough, but they stopped quoting just before the more appropriate chorus:

You make a grown man cry

#284 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 08:19 AM:

Xopher writes: I begin to think raping Vox Day would not be an immoral act.

Boy, some people really do get worked up about irregular verbs.

Remind me never to mention the pluperfect subjunctive around here...

#285 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 08:35 AM:

Suitably truncated lyrics seems to be a speciality of Microsoft; my personal favourite 'inappropriate use of a song' is their use of David Bowie's "Heroes":

We could be heroes
(omitted: But just for one day.)

#286 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 08:59 AM:

It's so great, this one thread has touched on four of my favorite things in life:

On muppets- I think I mentioned in a different thread my purchase of "The Muppet Show: Season One" (why haven't you gotten it yet? Oh. It's going to be gifted to you. Okay). Recently, I found "Ed Sullivan presents the Muppets" (or somesuch: Amazoning "Ed sullivan" and the Muppets should get results); not a bad little collection. It's way too short (only an hour), and the best bit is a sketch with a string quartet whose fourth doesn't show. But it's great. Several of the bits were later performed on the Muppet show by the Muppets.

I watched it the other night, in fact, with my newly purchased Samischlaus Bier, which is apparently the rarest beer in the world. It's brewed only on December 6th, or something like that; I had it last year. It's great. It's *really* strong, almost a wine or malt liquor, and it's got some sweetness to it. The first taste kind of puts you off a bit (even if you've had it before but not for a long time since), but you acclimate. Or I did, anyway.

Pooh, and Calvin & Hobbes- Niall's correct on both counts. Down to the tuna fish sandwich (tigers are silly that way, sayeth Hobbes).
I followed the link to Scott Adams' essay on the "formula" for humor, and noticed that he cites C&H as the perfect strip because it very often fires on "5 of 6 elements". That he can be wrong about why it was so funny is probably partly why Dilbert has never made me laugh.
My father's newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, recently started running C&H again. Noticing it made me grin like I did the first time I read those strips. They're like the Muppets to me, in that way. Just in time for the winter and some classic snowmen strips...

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 09:21 AM:

Will, you do know that the whole of Calvin & Hobbes has been published in one big book, right? I have a certain fondness for Suzie because she reminds me of my wife Susan in more ways than one.

Ah, the Muppets... Did they have Pigs in Space from the beginning? They make me think somebody on that show watched way too many episodes of Gerry Anderson's Fireball XL-5...

#288 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 09:27 AM:

Perhaps Vox Day needs to be ... disendowed?

#289 ::: dagny ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 10:08 AM:

My favorite entrants in the "this song is perfect except for the lyrics" category are both for cruise lines. One uses "Beyond the Sea" conveniently leaving out the "and never again I'll go sailing" parts. The other uses "Lust for Life." I'm waiting for someone to use "Sloop John B." It is about a boat.
The song in the diamond commercial is definitely "Under Pressure." The version that plays here has the lyrics in it. At least the first two lines, anyway. Unless two unrelated diamond stores are using the same tune in their ads.

#290 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 10:40 AM:

My favorite quasi-Scrooge is Farnsworth from "The Simpsons" and his equally sinister incarnation in "Futurama" (the Professor?), though I doubt that either of them could be scared into goodness by a ghost.

As for the eternal topic of inappropriate musical backing for commercials, my husband was properly offended by the recent use of Woodie Guthrie's "car" song, and my own child-of-the-Sixties side tends to snicker at intros (minus vocals) which rightfully belong to the Animals' version of "House of the Rising Sun" and that great Who song dealing with the miseries of a "teenage wasteland".

#291 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 10:40 AM:

Serge: Yep, I was. It's actually a collection of three hardcovers in one set. I can't wait. Well. Obviously, I *can*, and *am*, but one day... I have a bunch of the regular collections already.
From what I've read, the C&H set weighs more than 75 pounds. I think I remember someone saying that it would be the heaviest best-seller ever.

Yes, "Pigs in Space" was on from the beginning. I think I saw two sketches in the first five episodes of the first season? Something like that. Several. I'm not familiary with "Fireball."


Completely unrelated sidenote: I set my computer to shuffle my entire collection, and the random songs it's coming up with make me smile. The Magnetic Fields (I own but haven't listened to all of "69 Love Songs"), Fatboy Slim, Soul Coughing... so many I haven't listened to in a while.

#292 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 10:53 AM:

Serious question time, and I can't think of a more appropriate forum: Has anyone here ever seen the costs of early colonial expeditions to the Americas compared to the costs of space exploration? That is, in current dollars (or euros or what-have-you), could you put a 'Jamestown' colony on Mars for the same price it took to put Jamestown in Virginia?

Any pointers, dangling or otherwise, would be very helpful...

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 11:41 AM:

One big difference is that Jamestown's colonists didn't have to bring their air with them. That'll make your fuel bill run up fast.

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 11:47 AM:

I don't have any of the Calvin & Hobbes collections, Will, which is why I probably will get the megaset as soon as more pressing financial obligations are taken care of.

And this is Fireball XL-5, one of my earliest exposures to science-fiction. I never recovered. Neither did Stephen Baxter, I think, based on one of the main characters in his book Coalescent.

#295 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 11:58 AM:

In Russian, there is no present tense of "to be," a totally different verb gets called in when there must be one. The past goes "on byl" "ona byla" "ono bylo" "oni byli" and the future "ja budu" "ty budes'" "on bude" "my budeme" "vy budete" "oni budut". (In Cyrilllic, obviously.)

Please note that the past tense of the verb 'to be' is perfectly regular for Russian, which has the strange habit of conjugating verbs by person in the present tense, and by gender in the past.

Yes, that means that Vicki and I have to say "I went to the store" differently. What I've always wondered is whether Russian drag queens use the feminine; I rather suspect that they do, and that they also speak in the past tense rather more than usual.

#296 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:09 PM:

Another successful example of face transplant surgery...

#297 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:35 PM:

At my house, the only version of A Christmas Carol we like is Scrooged. It's a fairly loose adaptation, which is a plus for us— the original Dickens leave us cold.

There are better Christmas movies, if you ask me.

#298 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:48 PM:

'Recently, I found "Ed Sullivan presents the Muppets"'

You know, I was beginning to wonder if I'd just imagined that.

The one scene I can clearly recall: Ed tenderly picking up an injured muppet. Thrown from a sleigh or something.

#299 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:52 PM:

Xopher:I believe, for example, that it's immoral to have sex with a willing person who you're not attracted to because you want them to look favorably upon you. Or even because you like them and want to make them happy.

I'd agree completely with the first, and disagree completely with the second. The second is entirely a matter of situation. Will it really make them happy for more than the time spent in sex? Or is this going to have repercussions that will make them less happy in the long run?

The answers to those questions, and others, will define the morality of that bit.

And in an ongoing sexual relationship, I don't get why it's such a terrible thing (as I've seen it mentioned over the years) when a partner occasionally has sex when they're not really in the mood and the other is -- it's like giving a person a backrun when you'd rather be reading, an act of easy kindness.

#300 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 12:54 PM:

Conversations in several other threads, and the photographs I've been accumulating, have inspired me to do an art prohect. But I want some input to help structure it.

Could folks here please give me a few of the qualities, characteristics, phrases, words, that connote "rural" and "urban" for them?

Just a few.

#301 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 01:07 PM:

Lucy:

Urban = energetic street/pedestrian life, lights, monumental structures (buildings/bridges, etc.)

Rural = domestic animals, fields, faded clapboard buildings

Is that few enough?

#302 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 01:09 PM:

What about the depiction of rural life in Green Acres?

#303 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 01:16 PM:

Re: “Under Pressure”

I can’t help but wonder if some clever person in the ad dept. thought of both Bowie/Queen and Vanilla Ice. “If we just play the first few bars of the chorus, the youngens will think of “Ice, Ice Baby” and the old farts will think of “Under Pressure. We’ll get both demographics with one song.”

------------------------------------------

Re: Pooh, Tigger, Calvin, Hobbes, Hunney and Tuna:

This threadlet started when Scott Adams equated Tigger and Hobbes. Paul Clarke pointed out, correctly, that Tigger has more of a Calvinist nature. I went on to juxtapose Pooh as Hobbes. Hence the image of Tigger and Pooh in a little wagon at the top of a hill. Further, if Tigger is Calvin and Pooh is Hobbes, then Tigger would have met Pooh by rigging a trap with a food that Pooh is silly for.

Sometimes a cigar really is a phallic symbol…

------------------------------------------

The beer I like best is likely to become more and more rare: The maker of Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager has said that he doesn't plan to re-open his Katrina-ravaged factory. Phoo.

#304 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 01:31 PM:

Lucy:
urban--cabs; streetcars; broad flights of stairs; top hats; stadia
rural--tractors; fences; gravel roads; barns; cultivated fields

#305 ::: Francis Deblauwe ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 01:45 PM:

German archaeologist and aid worker Susanne Osthoff was kidnapped in Iraq more than a week ago. There is still no news about her or her driver after the initial video. In case you're not familiar with Ms. Osthoff, there's a good article at Archaeology Magazine's web site. Please sign the petitions asking for her release! One is by the British Archaeological Jobs Resource, the other by SAFE - Saving Antiquities For Everyone. For continuous updates on the situation, see The Iraq War & Archaeology site. Every little bit helps. Thank you.

#306 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:03 PM:

jhlipton, my Jim is going to be broken-hearted too, that's one of is favorite odd beers.
Sigh.

Watching the snow come down here, kind a cool from a 6th floor vantage-point. And since I can drive NOT on highways all the way from here to my door, I'm not too upset about it.

#307 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:05 PM:

Here in the UK, a recently-launched TV channel, ITV4, is showing a lot of the old adventurer series of the Sixties and the Seventies, with titles such as The Protectors and The Persuaders. For some reason, I'm now imagining an historical version involving Tony Curtis as Jack Aubrey and Roger Moore as Stephen Maturin, to be called The Surprises.

#308 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:10 PM:

Disturbing Toyota advert:

http://home.comcast.net/~thewoozle/photos/toyota_bait.mpeg

#309 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:27 PM:

Lucy: another hundred people just got off of the train, and came up from the ground, and another hundred people just got off of the plane, and are looking around, and another hundred people just got off of the bus, and are looking at us who got off of the train and the plane and the bus maybe yesterday.

Urban: hustle-bustle crowds anonymous pavement fumes tall buildings hard cold smelly exciting intense

Rural: quiet growing things meadows farms (Beethoven's 6th) long winding roads cattle horses pies in the window friendly relaxed

#310 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:28 PM:

We have the C&H collection. It's not the weight that makes the thing so inconvenient. What's 20 pounds (per my bathroom scales) between friends, afer all?

No, the problem is the depth. I don't have any shelves 12 1/2" deep. Our collection is currently living on the bedroom dresser.

(As a bookbinder, I have to query the sense of making such a heavy landscape-format book with squares. The fore edge is already resting on the slipcase base. Fortunately, it doesn't appear to be pulling the spine more than minimally out, but I have an edition of LoTR that tore its own endpapers out from a similar structure.)

#311 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:49 PM:

The C&H collection is tempting, but I fear that like my Far Side collection from last year, it will end up not being read as much as it should because it's too big and unwieldy to hold up above oneself at arm's length while lying in bed.

#312 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:57 PM:

Rural = trees. Things that are alive.

Urban = things that are not alive - pavement, buildings, etc.

#313 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:59 PM:

Urban: A place to do things.
Rural: A place to be.

(By which you can tell that I only vacation in rural locations.)

#314 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 03:12 PM:

Green acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out,
so far and wide
Keep Manhattan,
just give me that countryside.

For those tempted to suffer thru the complete lyrics of Green Acres's theme song, here they are.

#315 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 03:29 PM:

Hobbes isn't Tigger, Hobbes is Tyler Durden.

#316 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 03:37 PM:

We had "Blue People of Kentucky" as an actual reference question -- a class assignment -- at our library about 15 years ago. I remembered reading the Science '82 article, though by then I couldn't remember the '82 part. Still that was enough: with help from our state library, we were able to get a photocopy of the article. (This was in the Olden, a.k.a. pre-Internet, Days, before Ebsco, ProQuest, etc.) Then I found a couple of other things in medical books about the condition, photocopied them too, and put them all in a binder. I think we still have that binder on the shelf in case the teacher gave the assignment again.

I always enjoyed the line about "the bluest woman I ever saw."

#317 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 04:39 PM:

A cheap alternative to the Calvin & Hobbes set:

Look up the titles of all of the paperback collections on Amazon.

Drop by GoodWill now and then; buy the books as they appear.

Alas, you don't often see Footrot Flats books at GoodWill.

#318 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 05:19 PM:

Alas, you don't often see Footrot Flats books at GoodWill.

Ah, but you can find them at www. abebooks.com, my fav used book place.

#319 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 06:02 PM:

Urban: where you can see a Turner.
Rural: where you can see what Turner saw.

Urban: where you can see Ian McKellen play Prospero.
Rural: where you can see Jerry Falwell play God.

Urban: drive-bys.
Rural: drive-ins.

Urban: pot parties (in both the celebratory and political senses).
Rural: pot stills.

Urban: the 6:00 Acela from New York to Washington.
Rural: A fifty-car grain block from North Platte to Chicago.

#320 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 06:56 PM:

My favourite piece of inappropriate music in an ad was the Microsoft campaign for Windows, where they used the Stones song "Start me up":

If you start me up
If you start me up I'll never stop

That's bad enough, but they stopped quoting just before the more appropriate chorus:

You make a grown man cry

---
Yes, but I hear it! And applaud the inadvertant choice!


#321 ::: Michael Falcon-Gates ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 07:46 PM:

There were rumblings in the Windows development group right after Windows 95 released, threatening to make T-shirts with the Windows logo and the slogan, "We make a dead man come," on them. I don't think anybody actually made the shirts, which is just as well.

#322 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 08:14 PM:

Let's see: tidal mud flats (Canada geese, egrets, muskrat, turtle, mallards of course, herring gulls), train whistles from across the river, lots of trees, memorial gardens maintained by the Rotary Club and the American Legion, college football stadium with overpowered lights and P.A. system.

No farmland, though--the only farmhouse in walking distance is a museum, complete with a reconstructed Hessian building on the land.

Use of the phrase walking distance is the other giveaway that I'm not actually living in a rural area.

Well, that and that some of you already know that I live in New York City. Across from a tidal estuary, with all the wildlife mentioned, and I walked past those memorial gardens on my way to the subway this morning.

#323 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 08:21 PM:

Seen this?

Art, truth and politics
nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html
This is the text of the lecture to be given by Harold Pinter when he receives the 2005 Nobel prize for literature on Saturday. Forbidden by doctors from going to Stockholm to receive the £720,000 prize, the ailing playwright and poet has delivered his speech by video

Wednesday December 7, 2005
In 1958 I wrote the following:
'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.'
I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false? ...

#324 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 08:44 PM:

I'm trying to track down a bit of historical trivia and google has completely failed me, but it seemed the sort of thing that people around here might know. I'm trying to figure out what the appropriate form of address would have been for the Venetian Doge (c. 1527, if that matters)

I figure if there's anywhere I'm likely to find someone who knows this sort of thing, it's here.

#325 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 08:50 PM:

the C&H book is why the ghoddess created dictionary stands (we STILL can't find the antique dictionary I wanted among the family things moved to mom's new house, but I moved the stand after the book had been packed.... somewhere).

I have several Footrot Flats, bought at various worldcons. I LOVE THEM. They are a guarantee when i need to be cracked up.

And I love living in urbia, even though it took me over an hour to get home tonight (usually a 30 min trip). It snowed, about 2 inches, the big job was getting NORTH of the big freeway just north of our office building, all the connecting roads were parking lots. Once I got north of the jams, it took about 40 minutes, it was just getting through...

#326 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 09:12 PM:

From Lauro Martines, writing about Renaissance Italy: "The doge of Venice was a prince, and recognized as such by Venetians." This would imply that the proper title would be Principe. (Unless, of course, you were sufficiently an insider to call him "Luigi," "Piero," or "Crazy Friggin' Sal.")

#327 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 09:39 PM:

Serge -

Yup, French folk songs, or at least many that I've learned, do tend to be insouciantly sanguine.

Little skylark, pretty little skylark,
Little skylark, I will pluck you bald.

I will pluck your little head,
I will pluck your little head.
You have got
feathers yet.
Alouette, allouette. Oh, oh, oh, oh, ...

I always did wonder, though how one plucked the beak, unless one pulled it off - even more gruesome than pulling out feathers one by one.


And, of course, the song about my namesake, which with its cheery "So they hanged young Pie-er-re, / Traaa la la lalala lala lala la la la, And so they hanged young Pi-er-re / And Jeannetton as well, and Jeannetton as well."

We didn't just learn the bloody, though. Mme. Briddon also taught us "Chevaliers de la Table Ronde," with its plea that the singer be buried in a winecellar, feet against the wall, head below the spigot.

#328 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 10:18 PM:

Thanks for the quote, John, though it's not entirely clear whether Martines is referring to the proper form of address or simply the fact that everyone recognized who held the reigns of power in the Venetian republic. I think I'm just going to go for "Most Serene Prince" since it sounds specific and impressive, even though I don't have any evidence that "serenissima" was ever used to refer to anything other than the Republic itself. If anyone calls me on it I'll just say Sanmicheli was engaging in a little word-play. (Ah, the joys of writing in someone else's voice, if something's wrong you can always blame it on them.)

#329 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 11:17 PM:

FWIW, the Footrot Flats cartoon special is kind of blah. Buy more books instead.

#330 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 11:40 PM:

... simply the fact that everyone recognized who held the reigns of power in the Venetian republic.

The line that follows that is "But of course he was hemmed in by the power of the senate, the Council of Ten, and his advisers." And a good part of the chapter is about the doge being by no means an absolute ruler, and how that status was maintained.

And though often misstated, the phrase is "reins" of power, exactly like directing a horse.

#331 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 12:16 AM:

Hmm, an intersting twist, I just found a letter addressed to the Doge in question which opens with a Latin salutation referring to him as "By the Grace of God, Duke of Venetia" (Dei Gratia dux Venetiarum, dux being the common root of Duke and Doge) Not nearly as exciting as I'd hoped. I'm still trying to puzzle out the rest of the Latin, but I think the rest refers to the writer and some unknown Thomas ("nobilibus et sapientibus Thome(?)", question mark in my source) Now I just wish I could read Italian so that I could actually, y'know, read some of the things written by the person who I'm supposed to be impersonating.

#332 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 04:18 AM:

"dux Venetiarum" is not "Duke of Venetia", it's "Duke of the Venetians". Not quite the same thing. I also note that "nobilibus et sapientibus" uses two plural forms, which seems odd if the words are referring to a singular person named Thomas.

#333 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 04:44 AM:

When we had bookshelves built for the sitting room, I specced them so that I could shelve my Comprehensive Times Atlas, which is 12" deep and 18" tall, but that C&H collection would still stick out.

#334 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 05:51 AM:

"Hobbes is Tyler Durden."

Good lord, you're quite right. (Except that Tyler rather liked the idea of living in the state of nature, as far as I remember...)

The first rule of Calvinball is...

#335 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 07:19 AM:

jhlipton: “If we just play the first few bars of the chorus, the youngens will think of “Ice, Ice Baby”...

...and cringe? I think the Generation Y-and-youngers will actually think of "Under Pressure" as their elders will have been inclined to turn the volume up and sing along to that one. As opposed to Vanilla Ice, which, on the rare occasions when it hits the radio, merits instant station-change.

Have been trying to come up with a good explanation for my family as to why I need the Calvin & Hobbes monolith. A little stymied, as I have every other collection, including the three treasuries, the anniversary book, and the retrospective. The LA Times has started reprinting the strip again, too, which makes me terribly happy but kind of points out the lack of innovation in the vast majority of currently-running comics. And the near-plagarism..."Zits" rips off Calvin & Hobbes jokes, expressions, and storylines with appalling frequency...the whole set up and style is basically "Calvin as a teenager." Which both draws me in...since it's not done at all badly, you know...and makes me angry.

Muppets: my favorite special was for an anniversary...25th? 30th? in the mid-80s. We had it on tape, and I must have watched the thing 286477 times growing up. It had clips from *everything*..."Mahna Mahna," the planet Koozebain, a medley of "The Lullabye of Broadway" and "Rocking Robin", Piggy with a variety of entrances ranging from Jungle Goddess Borne By Shirtless Hunks to falling down a very glamorous long flight of stairs, Kermit doing "Happy Feet," Ray Charles singing "Bein' Green," "Pure Imagination," and on and on....I would kill to have that on DVD. Just point me towards the right Disney executive....(though I will admit that the "Muppets in 3-D" attraction at Disney's California Adventure is pretty damn awesome. Partly because it makes ruthless, if coded, fun of Mickey Mouse.)

"Miss Piggy's Guide to Life," a mock self-help book, is also well worth buying if you can find it. "Never forget that only you can ever fully appreciate your own true beauty. Others may try, but they so often fall short."

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 08:08 AM:

I grew up in a rural environment and let me tell you, it's vastly overrated. If someone yearns for such a childhood, 1) that person probably grew up there and forgot how boring it was after he/she moved to a city. 2) that person never grew up in a rural environment, or 3) that person did grow up there, and didn't forget, but never had to walk 2 miles in the snow to go see the cheap matinee movies at the parish's rec center.

#337 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 08:10 AM:

Okay... Did anybody manage to make it thru the Skiffy Channel's Triangle? I did, just to see what the payoff would be. I was NOT impressed.

#338 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 08:53 AM:

Today, the San Francisco Chronicle's Jonathan Carroll talks about perfume and his first girlfriend, a trotskyite.

#339 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:09 AM:

Theresa: Thanks for the Feral Quaker link. We have a muched loved Quaker in our household (quite the talker). Of course, I won't let Pippin see this and try and join her free compariots...

#340 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:26 AM:

Serge: Or, 4) actually liked the advantages of a rural lifestyle more than disliked the disadvantages. Advantages, in my case, being solitude, woods and fields, and horses. I rarely wanted to go to the movies. I wanted to be in a tree with a book, or watching horses and deer graze, or wading in a pond, looking for frogs.

#341 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:33 AM:

True, Aconite. There is that 4th possibility. As for myself, I have come to realize that this country boy gets more charged up by being in a city.

#342 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:35 AM:

I want one of those for my Xmas Tree.

#343 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:42 AM:

Good heavens. You know, Janet, it never occurred to me to try to translate "Alouette."

I think I have to go lie down now.

#344 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:46 AM:

Serge, there are wonderful things about cities--huge-by-gigantic libraries and bookstores, for two. Those are two things I badly miss out here in the boonies. But by the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, I nearly went nuts from the constant noise and all the people until I moved back to the country.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:56 AM:

There IS the noise in the city, true, Aconite.

#346 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 10:34 AM:

How many of this site's visitors are there who belong to this club?

#347 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 10:48 AM:

Urban: the Koozbainian fountain at the Watercourt in downtown LA (down the steps from Grand Avenue).

Rural: center-pivot irrigation systems.

#348 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 10:48 AM:

Long time since I read it, but I think the Nazi-Soviet pact held (yeah, right) and the Americans stayed out.

#349 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 11:04 AM:

One urban/rural distinction: in a rural setting, the neighbors are far less inclined to complain about your coal-fired forge and the ring of hammer on anvil.

Alas, I never got good enough to experience the flip side: in an urban setting, they'll pay you a lot more for the products of aforementioned smelly clanging... And somehow I doubt my Seattle neighbors would appreciate my opening up a smithy in my (oh-so-quiet, by urban standards) residential neighborhood.

#350 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 11:33 AM:

Serge said:

3) that person did grow up there, and didn't forget, but never had to walk 2 miles in the snow to go see the cheap matinee movies at the parish's rec center.

If I had walked two miles from my house, in any direction, I would most likely have ended up in the woods. Now that's rural.

Another good thing about growing up in the country, IMO, is that you get to grow large amounts of your own food (plant and animal.)

#351 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 11:45 AM:

My countryside was mostly open fields for agriculture, but there were some woods. And a sand quarry. And, from my bedroom window, I could see the nunnery. (Ah, the days of being rapped on the knuckles by nuns...)

#352 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 11:51 AM:

Stefan, thanks for linking to the Toyota ad. Made my frozen morning.

I'm quite happy in suburbia, thanks much. This way I have trees, quiet, and easy access to things to do. I've sampled urban living, and the concrete jungle is not for me. My wife grew up in a rural setting, and as a result neither of us have any desire to do so, especially if we ever have kids.

#353 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 01:12 PM:

Serge, who's been busy with the links, asked: How many of this site's visitors are there who belong to this club?

Well, I have a degree in library *SCIENCE* -- do you think they'd count it? (Hair's not quite back to college length, but heading that way...)

Urban vs country: Little tiny apartment dogs, and limits on how many you can have, vs packs of ill-behaved mutts who mess up the house when it snows... hmm, wait a minute, sometimes I miss that efficiency in Chicago!

#354 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 01:26 PM:

I grew up in suburbia.

Hated it.

The country is for visiting, when you need to get away from the city and slow down. City is for living in.

I know (sort of) people who never leave the city. Years ago I worked with a guy who claimed he hadn't spent a night outside MANHATTAN in twenty years. He was wacko in other ways, too.

Certainly country people come to the city for a bit of fun. Or adventure. Or just to remind themselves why they live in the country.

#355 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 01:30 PM:

Little tiny apartment dogs, and limits on how many you can have, vs packs of ill-behaved mutts who mess up the house when it snows...

Or, a slightly different view:
Urban: barking dogs in fenced yards, sometimes being dumped in rural areas
Rural: barking dogs in fenced yards, sometimes running loose (and being shot by farmers when they start taking down livestock)

#356 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 01:36 PM:

Moi, busy with links? Nah, Janet. It's just that the electronic newsletter of the Annals of Improbable Research (aka the Mad Magazine of the science world) just came in this morning and I wanted to share the joy with my fellow Makelighters.

Would a degree in Library Science qualify you for the Luxuriant Hair Club for Scientists? I have this feeling that they'd say no. I'm not sure computer science people, or just plain computer programmers like yours truly, would make it. Even if they did, my mop could not be called luxuriant by any stretch of the imagination. (It's rather jonathan-prycesque.)

#357 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 01:44 PM:

Oddly enough, though I live less than 10 minutes from downtown, my neighborhood has ginormous trees. It was developed between 1890 and 1915, so the trees either were left in or planted thereabouts in time.

They serve to a certain extent to muffle the ordinary noises of the city, but we are directly under a flight path to the old downtown airport, as well as Life-Flight to Children's Mercy Hospital and Truman Medical Center. I don't really notice it much.

#358 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 02:17 PM:

I would just like to note that Tropical Depression Epsilon Public Advisory 37 begins "...EPSILON WEAKENING RAPIDLY...THIS IS THE LAST ADVISORY...
...IT IS ABOUT TIME..."

Note that they had predicted it would turn into a remnant low by last weekend.

The Atlantic tropical hurricane season is officially over, which means (among other things) that they aren't issuing tropical weather outlooks, but I assume they will tell us if zeta turns up out there.

#359 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 02:17 PM:

Oh thank you for the anomalocaris home page link!! My absolute fav Cambrian creature. Way cool!

#360 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 02:20 PM:

I must say, I've never particularly had a favorite Cambrian creature...though I must admit, they are cool and weird.

#361 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 02:32 PM:

I designed our library's built-in bookcases -- yet to be built, but on the slate -- to step down in size as they go up (my little homage to Pepys). The bottom shelf is 18" deep and mostly covered over with cupboard doors -- a handy place to store board games, books and toys for entertaining visiting children, and so forth, but also convenient for the large art and architecture books and some of the larger dictionaries I have collected.

Since designing the cases, I've been thinking of adding a shelf that is like a large dictionary stand at one level, to provide a place to prop up larger books while referring to them. It would eat up shelf space, but we have 12-foot ceilings and plenty of wall space, so that's not a huge issue. The temptation would be to leave the books there permanently, though, so I'm not decided on the change.

I'm not a big fan of super-large books for things that could be smaller, but I do have to admit that for photographs, the form factor works well. For a dictionary, I'd rather have small volumes and more of them, for portability and so you can look up more than one word at a time. As it is, when I want to go on a cross-reference rampage I either need a lot of bookmarks or to use more dictionaries.

#362 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 02:33 PM:

Does anybody make a life-sized anomalocaris stuffy? It would make a great addition to the collection.

#363 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 02:38 PM:

Philistines.

Opabinia has five eyes and a mouth tentacle. That kicks ass.

Anomalocaris, fah!

#364 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 02:45 PM:

I've been thinking of adding a shelf that is like a large dictionary stand at one level, to provide a place to prop up larger books while referring to them. It would eat up shelf space, but we have 12-foot ceilings and plenty of wall space,

First, envy-hiss on the 12foot ceilings.

Second, why not create a pull-out standup-wth-prop? That way, you dont' use up shelfspace for something you don't use often, but have the "breadboard" effect for when you do?

#365 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 02:48 PM:

Opabinia has five eyes and a mouth tentacle. That kicks ass.

Oh, you're right. Way cool!

#366 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 03:07 PM:

Ever since I found one in a rock I broke on our driveway (there were no internets in 1981 Kearns, UT; we had to make our own fun) I have been inordinately fond of trilobites. So you can show me as many wicked Cambrian predators as you like, I will still spend more time at the trilobite.info site.

Besides, they have a Trilobite of the Month. Now that's just cool. December features a very sexy (ymmv, of course) convex specimen from Germany. Convex!!!

I tried to find a plush trilobite a few weeks ago, but my Google-Fu is weak and puny, and I was unable to do so. One more reason to learn to sew, I guess!

#367 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 03:31 PM:

John M. Ford:
The NYTimes crossword puzzle I did last night (last Sunday's, I think) had "Amtrak car -- 5 letters". I got "Acela" by cross-clues (thank Ghoo it was an American crossword), but had no idea what it meant ere now.

#368 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 04:43 PM:

First, envy-hiss on the 12foot ceilings.

Oh, don't envy too much. They were one of the few enticing things about a house entirely coated in pink paint and fake wooden paneling. If you're going to spend your last remaining energy and money on a house, it ought to have 12-ft ceilings and a decent pantry, I say.

Second, why not create a pull-out standup-with-prop? That way, you don't use up shelfspace for something you don't use often, but have the "breadboard" effect for when you do?

That's an idea, though it sounds technically challenging and possibly structurally unsound. Also, I'd like to minimise the moving parts. Maybe something that rolls out on 500lb full extension slides would work. Then I could climb on it to get to books up higher.

My other (somewhat more sensible) thought is simply to buy a couple of freestanding book stands for the room. Convenient because they can also be used to hold sheet music for musicians (2/3 of my household are musicians; you'd think the combination would work well, but what you end up with are rooms that are coated with one layer of books, then another layer of musical instruments).

Actual music stands, I find, lack the structural strength to hold much in the way of dictionaries and end up smooshed.

Come to think of it, I should really put a book stand in the kitchen, which is where I really need it 99.99% of the time.

#369 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 04:45 PM:

Apropos of pedantry & language change: Laura R, that's "Another quaint custom that I wish were still in use...."

I'm enjoying very much a series of lectures from The Teaching Company on The Story of Human Language. The professor is John McWhorter, who wrote Power of Babel. (Sherwin B. Nuland of How We Die is over in another corner with "Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography". Ooh ooh.) McWhorter's talking about how languages accrete new bits even as other parts wear away to nothingness; where grammatical bits like "the" come from; why some languages come to differentiate between Ma/mA/MA/ma etc... much more than just another round of Grimm's Law and the Great Vowel Shift.

Note: if purchasing from The Teaching Company, wait until the course you want comes around on the sale calendar. They very much want to be producing only a portion of their catalog at any one time, and price the others accordingly.

I should be lying down with my eyes shut listening to McWhorter instead of staring at computer screen... a migraine is knocking around the edges trying to get in.

Say, can anyone here address a connection between migraine and belching?

#370 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 04:56 PM:

Second, why not create a pull-out standup-with-prop? That way, you don't use up shelfspace for something you don't use often, but have the "breadboard" effect for when you do?

That's an idea, though it sounds technically challenging and possibly structurally unsound. Also, I'd like to minimise the moving parts.

Something like the leaf on a gateleg table? A pullout surface with a 'leg' that is flat to the bookcase front when not in use, and swings out on a hinge (or pair of hinges) to support the shelf? (The shelf itself could fit in a 'slot' in the bookcase, out of the way.)

#371 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 04:58 PM:

From the recipe pages in The Oregonian, "adapted from Robert Stehling", as yet untested by me but there's buttermilk on hand:

Buttermilk Pie

6 Tb unsalted butter at room temp
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated
3 Tb all-purpose flour
1 Tb lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk at room temp
1 8-inch deep-dish pie crust, blind-baked until very lightly browned

Preheat oven to 350F. (In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment) Combine butter and sugar until well-blended. Add egg yolks and mix well. Add flour, lemon juice, nutmeg and salt. Add buttermilk in a thin stream until blended. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk egg whites until they form soft peaks. Pour about 1/4 cup of the buttermilk mixture into egg whites and fold gently by hand to combine. Pour egg white mixture into remaining buttermilk mixture and fold gently until just combined -- will be somewhat lumpy.

Pour filling into baked pie shell.. Bake in middle of oven until filling is lightly browned and barely moves when pie is jiggled, 45 to 50 minutes. (Additional lemon juice will add to browning time, so bake 5-10 minutes longer if desired.) Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

#372 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 05:51 PM:

Kate - my mouth is watering. This goes on my "try this with erithritol and resistant flour" list. I have two questions. 1) What does "blind-baked" mean? 2) All the stores near me seem to sell only "reduced fat" buttermilk...will that do?

#373 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 05:55 PM:

Oh. I looked it up. Duhh on me.

Actually I have a substitute #1: do you cool the shell completely first?

#374 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:06 PM:

they are cool and weird

Wiwaxia? Pikaia?
My favorite weirdness: Hallucigenia! (So weird, they didn't realize at first it was upside down!)

#375 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:07 PM:

"...EPSILON WEAKENING RAPIDLY...THIS IS THE LAST ADVISORY...IT IS ABOUT TIME..."

It's been a hard year for the Tropical Depression Center folks. I hope Santa [or other deliverer of gifts] brings them lots of good stuff for Christmas [or other holiday of your or their choice].

And they haven't had to retire any of the Greek letters yet!

#376 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:10 PM:

For many years, the video servers I tended here at work had Burgess Shale critter names. I still have pictures taped up in my cube so I can show people what wiwaxia, pikaia, and opabinia really looked like.

Sadly, all of those machines are out of service. I now do my testing on spongebob, nebula, komodo, and bigbang.

#377 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:20 PM:

Serge wrote:

3) that person did grow up there, and didn't forget, but never had to walk 2 miles in the snow to go see the cheap matinee movies at the parish's rec center.

Hah!

That's not rural. this is rural.

The nearest movie theater is a half hour by car, in Keene.

I'm just sayin'

#378 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:23 PM:

Xopher: huh? (the hundred people getting off the transportation things)

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:30 PM:

I concede, Lisa. That looks way more rural than my childhood's neighborhood. But when you're 9 years old, and the roads are snowy, and there's no sidewalk, which means having to worry you'll get hit by someone who will lose control of his car on a patch of ice, walking 2 miles seems like an awfully long distance. Even when your destination is a matinee showing of Ben-Hur...

#380 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:34 PM:

Speaking of trilobites, nerdycellist... Did you ever see the 1998(?) mini-series 20,000 Leagues under the Sea with Michael Caine, Patrick Dempsey and Bryan Brown? Their version of the Nautilus was even better than Disney's, as it looked like a giant trilobite.

#381 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:36 PM:

The nearest movie theater is a half hour by car

I lived in this area for four years:

Halfway, Texas

Halfway is the white linear area in the uppper right quarter: about twenty buildings, including a farm supply, a very small card-keyed fuel station, and two Baptist churches (one Spanish-language). The buildings bottom center are a wide spot called Mayfield.

#382 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:38 PM:

Thanks for the urban-rural. I'm less interested in advantages and disadvantages or reasons why one is better than the other than I am in expectations and connotations. Which means I'm collecting the latter and trying hard not to get drawn in to discussion of the former (my project has to do with definitions, anyway, and what it looks like where I go).

#383 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:41 PM:

Brooke:
"Zits" rips off Calvin & Hobbes jokes, expressions, and storylines with appalling frequency...the whole set up and style is basically "Calvin as a teenager."

I really don't see that. Jeremy doesn't strike me as an older Calvin at all, there's no Hobbes substitute, there's nothing distinctively C&H (as opposed to kid out of touch with parents, teachers, etc.). The closest match I can think of is the bully, which is, again, not unique to C&H.

I have thought of several counter-opposites to Adams' "funnier with an animal" rule: Aqua Teen Hunger Force would not be funnier with ducks and pigs -- it would, if anything, be less funny. Conversely, Mallard Filmore should be very funny: It's got an animal, and it's usually pretty cruel. Now, if you had the backside of a horse repeating Sean Hannerity, that would be funny.

#384 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 06:54 PM:

No, Serge, but now I'll have to find it and put it in the Netflix queue.

I saw some gorgeous jewelry at LosCon that incorporated trilobite fossils much like the ones I used to discover in the rockpile. Unfortunately, my budget did not allow for jewelry, but I took the business card of the lady who made them, so once the xmas bills have passed, I should be able to get a nice necklace or bracelet.

Is it weird for me to prefer jewelry made from extinct arthropods, rather than compressed carbon?

#385 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 07:07 PM:

Be warned, nerdycellist, that, as is typical with some mini-series, its structure was skewed to fit a 2(3?)-night slot, with the result that some parts are downright boring. But their Nautilus looks great. (And that mini-series was certainly better than the Ben Cross version that had come out the same year.)

#386 ::: lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 07:17 PM:

Rural for me is going to be my home town.

Dirt road; cows, chickens, horses.

Deer. Deer who are disgustingly clever about getting the corn.
Raccoons, bears, fishers.

Sometimes a crazy moose, usually in May, suffering from a virus and black flies.

A week or so every year, usually in March or April, where the snow is so heavy there's no electricity for days.

So quiet that you can hear the snow falling from the trees down hill, and the ice cracking in the brook when it thaws, waking you up at night--then you know it really will be spring in a couple of months.

You plan trips to town for shopping for food; movies are a really big deal, especially in winter time. Snowdays, the miracle when you wake up and you know there's no school. Sometimes two in a row, even.

Pouring hot maple syrup on still falling snow, then pulling the hardened warm slightly chewy candy up and eating it with hot coffee, fresh hot doughnuts, and sour pickles. Mulled cider later, when you've done the last of the sap.

It's good, I swear.

#387 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 08:44 PM:

My original comment: Drink coffee and lose your civil liberties.

I like rural -- once lived on Blue Mountain a mile horizontal and 600-feet vertical from my nearest neighbor. These days, it's prudent to be less than 15 minutes from a hospital.

I've heard that the comic Frazz is the New Calvin. No Hobbes, but Frazz does seem to have some of Calvin's nuttiness.

#388 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 08:52 PM:

Xopher: huh? (the hundred people getting off the transportation things)

I'm not Xopher, but it was a Sondheim reference (to "Another Hundred People", from Company). I don't know whether this means that Xopher associates Broadway musicals with urban areas or whether it was just a nice evocation of urban life (guarded parks, battered barks, answering services, friends of friends...). Anyway, none of my business really.

For me, if you're still interested, "rural" has generally meant quiet, calm, restricted and isolated; whereas "urban" has meant accessible, active, involved and interested. But then, I've lived in the country for years, without a car.

Chris W: probably you knew this already, but note that "serenissima" is a feminine adjective and it would probably be a mistake to apply it to the Doge. (I figure you were only going to give it in English anyway, but just to be sure.) My advice would be to look at either Machiavelli or Marco Polo and see what language they use in their dedications: admittedly Marco Polo was a few centuries before what you want (and dealing with the Can Grande, which may be a different matter altogether), and Machiavelli was dealing with Florentine nobility, but you would get the right kinds of adjective.

My edition of The Prince has Machiavelli repeatedly referring to Lorenzo de' Medici as "your Magnificence", and he was a duke of the same (official) rank as the Doge. It probably complicates matters that he was the grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent, though.

Never mind.

#389 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 08:55 PM:

All this talk of Venice:

A humanist man of Stoke Poges,
in Venice composed apologias
for those aristocrats
who, though fond of their cats,
were accused of mistreating their Doges.

#390 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 10:02 PM:

Clever, candle. I did like the way that the (intended) forced metre compelled the forced rhyme. Neat! Elegant!

#391 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 10:38 PM:

'Doge' would be a good name for one of Man's best friends. candle.

#392 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 10:40 PM:

An acquaintance of mine is having a minor emotional crisis over Disney deciding to reïmagine Winnie The Pooh. We're running with it, and I figured some in this crowd might be amused by the ongoing wreckage.

#393 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 11:40 PM:

And, as Dave said, your talk of Venice indeed was clever, candle. Got more like it stashed away?

#394 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 11:40 PM:

nerdycellist: No, not wrong at all to prefer trilobites over cartel-controlled hunks of clear carbon... Of course, I've got a small slice of ferrous meteorite that I'm keeping for a necklace or ring, and I've got a half-finished pendant made from a slice of some kind of spirally, nautilus-like fossil, so I may not be the best judge; YMMV.

#395 ::: Shawn Bilodeau ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 11:52 PM:

Marilee -- Frazz is quite good (one of my favorites in the local newspaper,) but I'd say Frazz himself is Hobbes to the Calvin of all the students he deals with daily. (He's the janitor for the local elementary school, and the voice of reason to the exuberance of the students.)

Rural: The diamond spill of the Milky Way against the truly black velvet of the night sky, beaming down overhead while the crickets and frogs sing harmony to lull you to sleep. The sharp, somehow lively, smell of fresh spread manure on white snow fields of winter.

Urban: The never-ending light and the never-ending symphony. Carlights, street lights, apartment lights, the close and comforting dome of lit clouds above. Car horn, car alarm, traffic grumble, ambulance sirens. Bus, truck, motorcycle.

I grew up rural, but (and?) love the conveniences of the city. My first extended stay in the city was my first week in college for Naval ROTC orientation. From being used to sleeping on the back lawn right next to the corn field I went to (trying to) sleep in a dorm room a block away from the city hospital.

#396 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 12:09 AM:

candle:

I was writing in English, so the serenissima issue wasn't a problem. The "Dei Gratia..." formulation was actually from a letter from my author to the doge at the time, so I figured it was the best authority, though it is possible that it was slightly less formal than what would have been appended to a longer work in letter form, like I was forging. In fact, as I look back at my source, another letter addressed to the Doge uses the same greeting but inserts an "etc." which suggests a more formal letter would have had a half dozen more titles. Ah, well, that particular horse has left that particular barn, as the paper has left my hands for its day of judgement in the Ivory Tower.

(no, really, my prof's office really is in a tower, though it's more of a midwestern brownstone than ivory. It is very Gothic looking, though.)

And, in response to your limerick, I can't help but share a medieval double-dactyl I wrote while procrastinating for this class:

Waraday Snoraday
Louis the Corpulent
Battled the barons and
Normans all day

Suger then wrote ‘bout him
Enthusiastic’ly
Not even mentioning
What he did weigh

For more information on double dactyls and a few examples (including an obscene poem about Anton von Leevenhoek, father of microbiology) go here:

http://www.stinky.com/dactyl/dactyl.html

#397 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 01:01 AM:

...the whole set up and style is basically "Calvin as a teenager."

I really don't see that. Jeremy doesn't strike me as an older Calvin at all, there's no Hobbes substitute, there's nothing distinctively C&H

Well, the approach to the art, especially in the Sunday strips, is very close. Not that that's a bad thing, since Watterson was such an amazing innovator. The expressions characters wear are frequently C&H-inspired--have a look at a few grimaces, eyerolls, and sneezes, and you'll see the similarity. Still, no big deal there.

But have a look at the...let's say...mundane structure of Calvin's and Jeremy's lives:

The Dad: Middle-aged, balding w/ brown hair, glasses; mildly out of touch and ruefully cherishing outmoded ideals. Jeremy's is fat and ex-hippyish, while Calvin's is thin and a little bit Luddite.

The Mom: Tallish, sensible, smart, and harrassed. Has her hands full with taking care of home and family, esp. her only child. Has a more reliable, less startling sense of humor about life than her husband's. Jeremy's has curly black hair and wears more lipstick, Calvin's has straight brown hair and is more grimly determined.

The Girl: Smart, studious, sensitive, and a little bewildered/annoyed by protagonist's antics. Brown haired and not particularly glamorous, but uncomfortably conscious of her relative place in school's hierarchy. Can still be persuaded to unbend and have fun, on occasion.

The Best Friend: Bigger, calmer, and a little more self-aware than protagonist. Will nonetheless participate in any wild scheme protagonist suggests. Hector and Hobbes are definitely the biggest stretch...but the differences point out the ways Zits seems to have been adapted from the earlier strip. Hector is a human kid with a bit of a weight problem and a Latino background. But how often are these things relevant to the action of the strip? Does Hector ever do or say anything Hobbes wouldn't, in the same situation? He's on view much less than Hobbes, but I think that's because there's less need for him, as a character, than there was for Hobbes. (In the last couple years Jeremy has been spending a lot more time with Pierce, I think because Pierce has more energy as a character. Jeremy and Pierce tend to take turns reacting to each other's eccentricity with Hobbes-ish nonplused amusement) Partly because he lacks Hobbes's position as the central "question" of the strip--is Calvin's imagined world real or only in his mind?

Jeremy's world is drastically less imaginative and more social...as befits the difference between a 6 year old and a 16 year old. So there aren't any plots about running away to Mars or the Yukon. Cutting away the imaginary world that's 7/10ths of C&H, what we've got here are two strips about a smart but underachieving, blond messy-haired boy in sneakers living in a generalised Middle America, with a social world almost entirely composed of school and family, and occasional kindly disparagement of pop culture. You can say that the similarities between, say, the dads are just a result of them both adhering to a sort of American Dad archtype, I guess, but in C&H this worked because Calvin's Dad was only important when he interacted with Calvin. Especially in the early strips it looks to me like the Zits creators were big C&H fans who thought, "Hey! You know at the end of that time-machine storyline where Calvin says, 'let's go forward a little bit and see what I'm like as a teenager' and Hobbes says 'let's not'? What do you think they'd see?" and then structured their strip around that idea. Characters were run through a filter to make them less timeless, more specifically 90s: Calvin's red shirt gets changed to a purple flannel, Susie gets her ears pierced a couple more times, and all the unnamed kids at school start dating...and some of them are given names and one-dimensional personalities. The mundane world is more detailed, social and timely, since we spend more time there, and there's more of an emphasis on pop culture vs. (in C&H) ethical problems and broad social questions.

But the spirit of C&H was what made it so original. And that's been cut out of Zits,--along with all the dinosaurs and spaceships and the many uses of a cardboard box--by making it about stereotypical teen life instead of the constantly shifting world of childhood. Jeremy is much more literally a teenager than Calvin is a little boy, but Calvin is much more *real* as a character than Jeremy. IMHO. I wouldn't want Calvin to turn into Jeremy, because he's lost the energy and imagination that made him special. (Granted, I'd prefer it to him turning up in Fight Club...but that's a whole nother level of disturbing) So it looks to me like Zits has taken a big part of the framework of C&H and cut out most of the fantasy and individual vision. And *that's* the biggest part of why I get angry when I see jokes being directly taken from C&H and recycled with minimal rephrasing. (Which happens about once every couple months, at least, and if you go through treasury collections of both you can find them pretty easily.) In the end, I think Zits is a good but derivative strip, but Calvin & Hobbes was a genuinely great one which will continue to be important for a very long time.

[/soapbox]

#398 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 02:14 AM:

I don't know how it became necessary to even compare Calvin with Zits. I adore Zits: maybe because until recently I was surrounded by adolescents every working day and it is nice to have them represented the way I know them, bemused and befuddled and slouching along, and at the same time striving (Jeremy and his band, his best friend's car, their girlfriends). I think it's very perceptive and lovely and sympathetic. I also think it's funny. It's nice to see teenagers portrayed without condescension or steretyping, and without the contempt that is perceptible so often at the edges of jokes about teenagers.

#399 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 02:28 AM:

xopher: the recipe as printed included a footnote about blind-baked crust but I figured it was a look-up-able technique (as you discovered).

It does not address the question of whether or not the crust should be cooled completely before filling, nor the effect of buttermilks with differing fat contents. Sorry! We'll all just have to experiment there, and report back.

#400 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 02:36 AM:

Chris W: Without having seen the context, I'd gloss that "nobilibus et sapientibus Thome(?)" as probably meaning something like "a Thomas (Aquinas)? to the noble and wise". The number disagreement between the adjectives and the name suggests that they must be separate parts of the phrase, and thus if there is no clear antecedent for the adjectives, they must be acting as a noun phrase; the ablative would make it an implied to/for. (Of course it's been 30 years or so since my last Latin class, so I could be all wet.)

#401 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 02:49 AM:

Andrew -

I gotta admit, the translation of Alouette got a bit bloodier than the original, so's it'd fit the meter and have some sorta rhyme scheme.

I suppose it might go

Little skylark, pretty little skylark,
Little bird, those feathers gotta go.

I will pluck your little head,
I will pluck your little head.
Little head,
Now is red.

Ah, ah, ah, ah ...

#402 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 03:23 AM:

Somehow, I managed not to provide a link to that discussion about Disney and the new Winnie The Pooh they have in the works. Here it is: One Hundred Acres Of Darkness.

The synopsis of the story so far: Disney wants to rewrite Christopher Robin as a 6-year-old girl, because...

"We got raised eyebrows even in-house at first, but the feeling was these timeless characters really needed a breath of fresh air that only the introduction of someone new could provide," says Nancy Kanter of the Disney Channel.
"Christopher Robin is still out there in the woods, playing," she says.
Apparently, that was enough to set some imaginations going where they probably shouldn't.

#403 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 03:38 AM:

Jeremy in Zits is not an only child. He has a rarely-seen older brother in college.

I did prefer Calvin and Hobbes but Zits is fairly amusing.

#404 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 04:09 AM:

Christopher Robin was out in the woods. He had been playing, and it had been a good play, where he had taken the heffalump with one clean shot, but now he was sitting with his back against a big tree, eating honey with his fingers, the way Pooh did.

He did not want Pooh to find him like this. It was not that Pooh would eat up all the honey and then go look for a place to throw up. The woods covered a hundred acres and that was all right, unless Roo was too close by. He did not want Pooh to appear just then because Christopher Robin's hands were covered in honey and when the bear came up for a hug it would all turn bad very fast.

And at that moment Pooh did appear. He was jaunty. He was so damned jaunty it would have made Mrs. Parker swear off the hard stuff, right after she fwowed up. Pooh was humming a song. It sounded like Bowie's "Putting Out Fire (With Gasoline)," but it was hard to tell with a hum like that. Piglet was on his shoulder, trying to manage an iPod Nano that was bigger than he was.

Suddenly Tigger sped in from somewhere in the deep green and bowled both of them over. Tigger skidded to a halt and skipped back. "That was my morning pounce," he said.

Christopher Robin used the moment to find some leaves to wipe his sticky hands. It was going to be a good day. He knew it would. He knew it even though he knew that, somewhere off in the West, where Oxonians went when their time was up, voice actresses with squeaky little-girl voices were auditioning to play him. He had always hoped that Brian Cox or Patrick Stewart would play him. Stephen Fry would have been all right too, and would have had a handle on his dreaming side. Instead he was going to sound like Puffy AmiYumi. Roo would grow up and forget who he was.

He looked at the honeypot, and thought hard about how much honey you would have to eat before you got all woozykins and never woke up. It had never worked for Pooh. He picked himself and the pot up, and went to make Pooh happy for the rest of the long, shadowy afternoon.

#405 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 05:27 AM:

Disney have already bought all the Pooh characters, starved them for a few days, shot them, skinned them and tanned their hides with their own brains (a tricky job with Pooh himself. of course).

What horrors they visit on the grotesque puppets they now have in their power will pale in comparison to how they created them.

#406 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 06:08 AM:

Actually, now that I've had a day to think about it, I don't think that "dux Venetiarum" means "Duke of the Venetians". The problem is that "Venetiarum" is a feminine form, so if it were from a hypothetical adjective "Venetius" meaning "Venetian" it would have to mean "Duke of the Venetian Women", which seems unlikely. I'm guessing now that it does mean "Duke of Venetia", and that "Venetia" is one of those odd place-names that is plural. (Like Syracuse or Athens.)

#407 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 06:21 AM:

Joe Nickell recently recounted in the Sept/Oct issue of Skeptical Inquirer his tour of Italy's churches containing miraculous relics. There was the oft-heard observation that enough sites have a piece of the Holy Cross that a good-sized ship could be made out of all fragments. But we then read that "...[t]here were multiple heads of John the Baptist..."

There's got to be a joke somewhere in there.

#408 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 07:51 AM:

Paul Clarke pointed out, correctly, that Tigger has more of a Calvinist nature

Perhaps I should point out that I was thinking of enthusiasm and complete lack of foresight, rather than a firm belief in predestination.

Does Hector ever do or say anything Hobbes wouldn't, in the same situation?

"Don't the other kids tease you for bringing a stuffed animal to school with you?"

"Tommy Chestnut did once, and now nobody does."

"Why?"

"Hobbes ate him."

#409 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 08:48 AM:

For New York City residents, or those who visit and have time on their hands, there's a site with a walking tour (well, OK, walking and bus- and subway-riding tour, but hey, it's a big town, right?) of the Revolutionary War-era fighting in the city. The Brooklyn section starts at Fort Hamilton, and proceeds to Bensonhurst and then Flatbush; stops include the site of what may be the only Liberty Pole in continuous use (well, successive poles, anyway) since the British left. However, I suspect the 18th-century style kitchen garden at Pieter Claesen Wycoff House Museum may not be at its best just now.

#410 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 09:15 AM:

My new favorite Cenozoic critter is the Burgess Shale Elf

#412 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 09:27 AM:

Kate Yule said:

Laura R, that's "Another quaint custom that I wish were still in use...."

Aah! The subjunctive! How could I forget?

(hangs head in shame)

#413 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 09:57 AM:

A query for the astrophysically inclined among the readership: what are the dimensions (radius/diameter and thickness) of a typical gas/dust disc (like the one around Vega)? The JPL press release says "radius of at least 815 AU", but is there a hole in the middle (near the star), and if so what size? What's the dust density and size distribution like?

Help me, Making Light readers, you're my only hope! (Maybe not, but it's an appropriate way to end a question - or set of them, rather.)

#414 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 10:30 AM:

Anybody seen Narnia yet? I've never read the books, but I figure I might as well go see it anyway. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 74% approval rating, which isn't going thru the roof, but not too shabby either. Meanwhile, Salon's Stephanie Zacharek enjoyed it immensely and says that the religious stuff is not overdone. And that Tilda Swinton is absolutely great.

#415 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 10:47 AM:

Serge, there is indeed a joke in it. The version I heard involved a different head, as follows;

Murphy was a keen amateur historian, with a particular interest in the Battle of Clontarf (1014), and a collection of Viking axeheads, Irish cloak-pins and so forth. The prize of his collection, however, was the skull of Brian Boru, which he had bought for a considerable sum of money from O'Reilly, an antique dealer in the Liberties of Dublin. Murphy would point out to all his visitors how you could clearly see the damage done to the skull by Brodar's axe.

He was shocked, therefore, to pass Reilly's window one day and see featured therein a skull with a tag saying "Brian Boru". He stormed in and confronted Reilly. " What do you mean by this? You assured me five years ago you were selling me the authentic skull of Brian Boru. Here you are now, selling another one! and to add insult to injury, the two of them could never be confused for each other, since this one is far smaller." Says Reilly, "Ah now, don't be getting excited. Sure, this one here is the skull of Brian Boru when he was a boy."

#416 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 11:07 AM:

Argh!!!

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 11:28 AM:

Bad news for those of you who were born on December 8... Ann Coulter came into the world on that date in 1981. And John Lennon exited the world exactly one year before.

#418 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 11:31 AM:

Is a double dactyl about teaching yourself to work on cars an autodidactyl?

*collects thrown vegetables to make soup*

#419 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 11:38 AM:

Serge...hardly possible to know which is worse.

#420 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 11:45 AM:

Ann Coulter is only 24?

#421 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 11:51 AM:

Darn. Coultergeist was born in 1961, Laura, not 1981. Don't ask me to do math early in the morning before the caffeine has kicked in.

Apparently Garrison Keillor and Jim Morrison were also born on December 8. Does that make up for the 1961 event?

#422 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 11:59 AM:

Serge, a belated response on the Shiva Christmas tree ornament...A previous significant other's family did Christmas in a big way; my family, emigrants from India to Canada, not so much. So he and I had a tree that was decorated with ornaments that were mostly traditional Indian crafts (mirrorwork, embroidery, etc.) While I have no desire to have a shrine to the Hindu gods in my house (as most members of my family do), I'd totally want a Shiva on my Christmas tree. Where cultures intersect is where the interesting stuff happens, IMHO.

#423 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 12:08 PM:

Agreed, debcha. Speaking of Hindu gods - and goddesses... I was quite surprised a couple of years ago when I saw a bunch of Indian movies on Turner Classic Movies: one of them had the main character's husband go away to seek employment and the woman, worried about him, prays to Kali. In the West, when people hear of Kali, it's her aspect as shown in silly movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and so we don't associate her with the home and the hearth.

#424 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 12:08 PM:

Serge, fond as I am of both and their work...no. Even the 1961 by itself. No. Much less the 1961 and 1980 taken together.

#425 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 12:19 PM:

Yeah... You're right, Xopher. That doesn't make for Coultergeist's birth or for Lennon's death.

#426 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 12:19 PM:

On Coulter: well, it's still no excuse, but I find myself relieved to know that she's not 24.

On Kali: Kali Ma is one of my favorite goddesses. I'd love to hear more about her domestic aspects.

#427 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 12:20 PM:

Serge, that movie was about as accurate on Hindu theology as the next one in the series was on Christian theology. Probably less.

Kali is a Fierce Protector. She definitely has her sweet aspect, as anyone who has chanted Jai Ma (the one I know, which goes Jai Ma, Kali-Durge ma, Kali ma (2ce); Jai Ma Durge Ma (2ce); repeat) will tell you. But I'm not going to lecture about Kali, much as I love her, when there are actual Hindus in the room. *bows deferentially*

Hekate, though Western, is still less known in the West (probably because Eopagan religions are more familiar than Paleopagan ones). When she is depicted at all, it's in her most terrible aspects: Death-crone, Witch-queen. Yet she's known as "tender-hearted Hekate" in Homer; she was the only one who listened when Demeter was crying over her lost daughter Kore (later called Persephone). I'm fond of the belief that she actually gave Demeter the idea for her famous job action!

There are actually very few gods (or goddesses) who have ONLY terrible aspects. Not even Yahweh! (His Old Testament behavior comes pretty close, though.)

#428 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 12:21 PM:

Arg, I forgot to mention that Kali is one of the goddesses who is worshipped PRIMARILY in the home, OSILTU, rather than in temples. Images of her are sometimes considered...inauspicious.

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 12:31 PM:

Thanks, Laura, Xopher.

Has anybody ever seen Peter Brook's 1989(?) adaptation of the Mahabaratta? People seem to love it or hate it, but I'm one of those in the middle. My wife and I were watching the DVD again a few weeks ago and I went 'huh?' upon recognizing the name of one of the cast members. I looked thru again and that guy with the thick & black Charlie-Stross beard indeed is Kieran Hinds.

#430 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 02:16 PM:

Driving my foster daughter to school this morning, I saw an unusual dead animal between lanes on the Likelike highway. After I dropped her off at school I had to drive a long circle round so I could get a better look again. Yep, it was indeed a dead wallaby in the middle of the road. (Cue Loudon Wainwright.)

In Australia this might not be worthy of note, but in Hawaii, or indeed anywhere in the US, it's a bit unusual. I had heard of a colony of wallabies living up on the mountain ridge over Kalihi, but this is the first I've ever seen one one. Too bad it had been hit.

#431 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 02:40 PM:

A belated addition to the Urban vs Rural that I hadn't seen.

Rural: Hey! Wow! Five cars!

Urban: Hey! Wow! I can't see where the traffic ends!

#432 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 02:56 PM:

If we're going to talk about roadkill... Back in January 1989, my wife and I moved from Toronto to her native California. The drive on I-40 was a long one, but beautiful. And there were plenty of billboards praising the town of Winnemucca. And quite a few deer carcasses strewn across the continent, some of them with bald eagles enjoying the free meal.

#433 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 03:03 PM:

Clifton, it's cool that you saw a wallaby, even dead. They don't come down off the hillsides that often -- although one was spotted on somebody's front lawn all the way over in Foster Village a few years ago. Was it on the Kalihi Valley side of the highway, or the Kāne'ohe side? I'm guessing the former.

#434 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 04:06 PM:

Sorry, got distracted. The limerick, since some of you were so kind to ask about it, was forced on me by the fact that someone had written the first line on the wall of a toilet cubicle and had evidently given up. (Well, it said "There was a young man of Stoke Poges".) I still can't think of anything else that rhymes.

I was writing in English, so the serenissima issue wasn't a problem.

Fair enough, and you obviously know what you are doing. I might have had access to better sources at home (where I used to share a flat with someone who wrote part of her PhD on Marco Polo), but it sounds as though you have plenty of your own. I'm as baffled by the "dux Venetiae" form as David Goldfarb, although I suppose it must mean that Venice is plural in Latin. (It doesn't seem to have been in Classical Latin, but it might have varied in the Renaissance: this is a handy resource.) Venetiis, is a dative or ablative plural in any case.

I can't help but share a medieval double-dactyl I wrote while procrastinating for this class:

Double dactyls: yes, I like them, though I can rarely make them elegant. Although I'm pleased with:

Soapery Popery
Samuel Wilberforce
thought evolution was
wide of the mark:

argued that fossils were
antediluvian
creatures prevented from
boarding the ark.

I know what you mean about writing while procrastinating. I have a tendency to write stuff like this while listening to papers at academic conferences, which last time out resulted in an entire ballade about the philosophy of Gregory Palamas.

Least appropriate form of address? "Git, little doge..."

#435 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 04:27 PM:

I've never had a Shiva ornament, but when I was about 7, I decided I would decorate my own little tree in an homage to my Jewish heritage. Mind you, I was raised Methodist in Oklahoma. I had a two-foot tall white tree decorated with little blue and silver dreidels and menorahs that I had made from cardboard and mylar wrapping. It raised many a redneck eyebrow.

#436 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 04:33 PM:

Sounds pretty, LeeAnn...

#437 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 04:39 PM:

I don't know what changed, but as of today Making Light and my copy of Firefox are playing together more nicely. Previously, when I clicked on a new comment in the "Previous 400 comments" page, the topic page would open up without having refreshed itself to show the new comment, and I'd then have to manually refresh the page, sometimes more than once, before the new comment would show up. Now, it works properly. I have no idea why -- I don't think I changed any of my settings -- but I'm not complaining.

#438 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 06:10 PM:

The junk filter caught the first 419 I've seen from someone claiming to have a bunch of Khodorkovsky's slightly slippery money. (Russia, Yukos Oil, for those that don't follow these things.)

It would be interesting, if I had the time and inclination, to track how long it takes for a scandal to filter through to the 419ers. We've heard from the friends of Saddam and his entire family, and every single human being who ever held public office in Nigeria. I'm expecting someone to start offering some of Abramoff's slush bucks within three months.

And you know, if it were really this difficult to move quantities of Schmutzgeld* across international boundaries, all sorts of illicit enterprises would have gone belly-up by now.

*It's a word now.

#439 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 06:17 PM:

I like 'schmutzgeld'. Somehow it feels like it should be 'schmutzengeld', though...I don't have native-speaker intuition in German, but it seems to fit a pattern somewhere in my head that 'schmutzgeld' doesn't. I dunno.

#440 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 06:42 PM:

Xopher - Word formation with -r Schmutz at your fingertips courtesy of canoo.net.

Plus, I just heard an story on Marketplace last night about bio-active water filtration for third-world countries where the bacterial layer on top of the sand filter was called a Schmutzdecke.

#441 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 06:48 PM:

Also worht noting that das Schutzgeld = protection money, so Schmutzgeld might just be understood in a humorous/punny kind of way by a German. Perhaps.

#442 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 06:53 PM:

Mike, how many kronkites can you get for one schmutzgeld? (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, then you are not the Bugs Bunny expert that we thought.)

#443 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 07:42 PM:

John Shirley reviews Peter Jackson's KING KONG:

http://www.johnshirley.net/DesktopDefault.aspx

"Whew!"

#444 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 07:47 PM:

Clifton, Eric,

I've found mongeese in my yard within the past year (Pearlridge). I've never seen that in 28 years of living here.

#445 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 09:24 PM:

Teresa, many thanks for the cover sheets from FAS -- they bring back some lovely memories.

For those in the audience that have not held security clearances, a cover sheet is used when someone not cleared to see some materials is in your office. At one time (I believe it has changed recently) there were three sheets for the standard three levels of classification:

Yellow - Confidential
Orange - Secret
Red - Top Secret

They looked much as the spoof cover sheets do, wide borders and all, with language from the US Code concerning penalties for misuse. Sheets came in all sizes, covering everything from letter sized documents to wall charts.

There have always been spoofs. In my father's plans shop in Germany, they came up with a purple cover sheet labeled "OBSCENE" with language pulled from the laws aganst mailing obscene materials. They ususally had it over in the corner, on top of a pile of girlie mags, and would covertly watch visitors to see how long it would take them to peek under the cover.

#446 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 10:56 PM:

Deborah Lipp is asking for names for her blog. She welcomes the lunatics from Making Light, so post your suggestions at:
Deborah Lipp

#447 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 12:16 AM:

I don't know how it became necessary to even compare Calvin with Zits.

Aack. I know, and I apologize...I'm getting over bronchitis and I'd been taking this over-the-counter cough syrup which seems to be related to P. G. Wodehouse's Buck-U-Uppo. It made me all fiesty and gregarious despite being tired and achy...except that, since this isn't the halcyon side-effect free Wodehouseverse, it also kept me from getting any sleep at all (and didn't do as much as one might hope for my cough). So when I was asked wherefore the comparison I'd made in a previous throwaway line, I launched into one of my Standard Rants. I don't actually dislike Zits: it does what it does really well, and makes much more of an attempt at using space creatively than most post-Waterson comics. C&H just happens to be one of those works of literature that I adore so much I'm ever-unreasonably-vigilant against any slight to their honor; besides, the Fight Club thing had already made my head spin a bit. It was all fairly unnecessary, and I'm sorry if I offended any one.

Paul Clarke: Hee. I'd forgotten about Tommy Chestnut. Though I didn't say Hobbes didn't do things Hector wouldn't. Obviously he does. I said Hector...oh, hell, never mind. Sorry.

In re: Calvin and Hobbes having philosopher's names: a few months back one of Television Without Pity's Pixel Challenges had the prompt, "Who else is on the Lost island?" Guess who my favorite response featured. Well, you know, there are already characters named Locke and Rousseau...

#448 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 12:37 AM:

Claude, in the Navy it was Green for Confo, Yellow for Secret, and Pink for TS, at least in 1972-1974.

We burned material in the Navy. When I was on Kwajalein I used a Waring blendor to mulch my two classified documents per day.

#449 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 12:41 AM:

In this complete collection of Calvin & Hobbes, are all the strips in color, or just the Sunday ones? To tell the truth, I much prefer C&H in black&white, especially in winter scenes. That really brings out the beauty of the art.

#450 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 01:24 AM:

Double dactyls are the higgledypiggledies? I've been coming up with them occasionally for class. I'm partially responsible for a bunch of invertebrate zoology students having to discover what a limerick was (how do you get to college without knowing what a limerick is?) and write one about echinoderms. Echinoderms are better for double dactyls than limericks.

Holothuroidea!
Best of echinoderms!
Five-sided symmetry,
podia buccal--

with vigorous rubbing the
mutable tissue turns
sea-starry cucumber
into brown puccal.

Now I just need a rhyme for 'barnacle'.

#451 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 01:31 AM:

A rhyme for 'barnacle'? How about 'nautical'? Too obvious, probably...

'Tabernacle'?

'Spectacles'?

#452 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 01:34 AM:

'Vesicle' ?

#454 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 02:40 AM:

'Risible'? Not quite.

'Ridicule'?

#455 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 03:02 AM:

For "barnacle?" You're thinking too hard about the consonant. (The fact that there are variations in the pronunciation is maybe a cheat, but maybe isn't.)

For the slightly longer u sound:
taffy pull
Johnny Bull
three bags full

And for the faintly shorter:
this knife's dull
Aleph-Null
carnival (in its common Englishification)

#456 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 07:31 AM:

Linkmeister, my father was in the Air Force, so your milage may vary.

The most interesting approach to emergency document destruction I ever came across was a standard fireproof filing cabinet. Generally, these, like most fire safes, have a layer of cement under the outside shell, and a cement panel on each door, but little or no partitions between drawers. The cabinet had a thermite grenade in a box on top. If you needed to leave suddenly and did not want whatever was in the files to be read, you simply pulled the pin on the grenade, placed it quickly on top of the files in the top drawer, and close and lock all the drawers. Nor only would there be nothing readable left in the cabinet, you would have to cut it open to find out.

After it cooled down, of course. Doing this would pretty much violate any lease agreement on your office space.

#457 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 07:49 AM:

A friend of mine, who was a Petty Officer on a missile cruiser, told me about the routine for destroying the coding equipment in case they ever, well, you know, needed to do that. It involved four hand grenades, which were kept where one could easily find them if and when they became necessary. This would undoubtedly have caused some ancillary damage to the ship, but it was assumed that the ship would not in these circumstances notice a few more scratches and dings.

Remember, few human difficulties cannot be solved by . . . uh . . . having the proper tools to hand.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 07:53 AM:

A thermite grenade inside a fireproof filing cabinet, Claude? Must have been quite a sight. Ah, if there were a way for the MythBusters to justify doing that as part of one of their experiments... (Sorry for bringing them up again. It's just that I can't help that when I hear of kabooms at home or at the office.)

#459 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 08:33 AM:

Remember, few human difficulties cannot be solved by . . . uh . . . having the proper tools to hand.

Or by having the right wrong tool for the job. With a thermite grenade, there might not be much left of any of the file cabinet, concrete lining or not. That's a chemical reaction described as 'vigorous'.

#460 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 08:37 AM:

I hear of thermite grenades and I think of what happened in the Fifties movie versio of The Thing... They were only trying to melt the ice, but they also wrecked the spaceship of the 7-foot-tall blood-drinking carrot-man from Mars. Oops.

#461 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 09:33 AM:

Science double dactyls and limericks?

There was a young man named Linnaeus:
Inspired by some mischievous deus,
He tagged all of nature
With binomenclature:
A devious way to betray us!

For example, the Danaus plexippus,
(In some books Anosia plexippus)
Is called D. menippe
In South Mississippi
And elsewhere is called D. archippus.

--Nat B. Frazer, Ph.D. (a relative of mine)

#462 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 02:47 PM:

OK - A total aside, but the ML crowd seems to know something about everything.

Persimmons. I was captivated by pictures of persimmons on flickr, so I decided to buy one.

I read the "how to buy" advice, carefully selected one, left it until it met most of the ripeness criteria and carved it up.

It's a miracle I still have any tooth enamel. It was perhaps the most alkaline food experience I've ever had. Yuck.

But, I've seen recipes for persimmon pound cake and the like that seem captivating.

So, did I get a bad specimen, eat it unripe or do something else wrong, or do I just plain *hate* the things, beautiful as they are?

Plus, does grating and installing in baked goods bring out their inner delicacy?

#463 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Larry - from what I understand, persimmons are one of those fruits that really only ripen well on the tree. The only good persimmon I've ever had fallen off the tree right in front of me. My uncle assured me it was safe (he's a surgeon, so I believed him), so we ate it right there on the sidewalk. It was heavenly. I also selected the perfect specimen, years later, at a rather fancy grocery store. I ripened it per instruction, and promptly disposed of it. I don't know about adding them to recipes - I doubt I'll try. My baked goods are lousy enough without icky fruit added.

#464 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 04:47 PM:

The flat, vaguely tomato-shaped sort of persimmon can be eaten when still firm, but most persimmons don't reach edibility until they've softened nearly into jelly. I've never been able to muster more than a vague tolerance for persimmons myself, but Harold McGee has an entire chapter on persimmon-ripening processes in The Curious Cook, which also has a marvelous chapter on all manner of fruit ices.

Don't have time to summarize the McGee persimmon chapter at the mo, but may try in a few hours unless someone else gets to it first.

#465 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 04:49 PM:

They were only trying to melt the ice, but they also wrecked the spaceship of the 7-foot-tall blood-drinking carrot-man from Mars.

Well, magnesium is strong and lightweight.

It's also the obvious motivation for a Fifties psychopathic killer vegetable. For the rest of the movie, he's howling (in Vegan, of course) "You squares wrecked my wheels, man!"

#466 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 05:22 PM:

And thus interstellar relationships started off on the wrong foot, eh, Mike? Of course, one does wonder why thermite would make James Arness's spaceship go up in smoke when the reason why it was encased in ice in the first place is because it was so hot from plowing thru Earth's atmosphere. Nevertheless, it's still a good movie. And probably one of the few where I've seen a realistic reaction to coming face to face with something truly scary: remember the scene when someone opens a door and, hi, here's a cranky James Arness on the other side? They don't just stand there and start screaming. They immediately slam the door shut. And shoots lots of bullets thru it.

#467 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 05:24 PM:

Larry, LeeAnn, JulieL:

I just taught a short course on food and science, and I am in my office, so my copy of McGee's On Food and Cooking came readily to hand. On persimmons:

The most important persimmon species worlwide is Diospyros kaki [Japanese persimmons.]...Japanes persimmons come in two general kinds, astringent and nonastringent. Astringent varieties [tapered]...have such high levels of tannins that they're edible only when completely ripe, with translucent and almost liquid flesh. Nonastringent types [flat- bottomed]...are not tannic, and can be eaten while underripe and crisp...[omitted: technical explanation of how a centuries-old method of burial of persimmons in mud gets rid of the astringency]. Modern cooks can accomplish the same thing by wrapping persimmons snugly in a truly airtight plastic film, polyvinylidene chloride (saran).

I have very little personal experience with persimmons; here in snowy New England, the per-persimmon cost is high enough that it isn't really justified by the taste, for me (YMMV, but here is McGee's description: They have a very mild aroma reminiscent of winter squash that probably derives from the breakdown products of carotenoids.) However, I'd guess that different persimmon experiences may have resulted from the two different types.

#468 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 05:39 PM:

Cassie -

Yup, double dactyl = higgledy piggledy. I like yours immensely.

Though I am puzzled by "puccal." Merriam-Webster.com, unsurprisingly, doesn't have it. My OED is unreadable because a hard drive forced an upgrade to Win98, and the disk unregenerately 3.1-based. I'm assuming the meaning in question has nothing to do with PUCCAL, the Public Utilities Commission of California; the Bayer code (which I know nothing about) for Puccinia allii (DE CANDOLLE) RUDOLPH, aka rust of allium, onion, leek and garlic; or the Gaelic word from which, according to "The Story of English" the name "Puck" is derived (at least according to another site I found; I haven't checked that, either).


A rhyme for barnacle? Yikes. That's a right nasty triple.

Here, it's a near nickle; thar, it's a far nickle.

I went to the concert, got squirted with blood -
a messy but typical Gwar pickle.
My date went and left me. And there I had hoped
she'd stick to me close as a barnacle.

Hmmmm.


#469 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 06:00 PM:

Persimmons: the tapered Japanese persimmon (Diospuros kaki) you meet in markets is Hachiya; the flat one is Fuyu. American persimmons (D. virginiana) are not generally met in stores: they're much smaller than Japanese persimmons and are not really edible until they're really soft and starting to look more like a raisin or a prune. (These are the ones that are said not to be edible until after frost: they really aren't ripe until mid-autumn at the earliest.) American persimmons come in male and female plants, also.

#470 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 06:05 PM:
I don't know how it became necessary to even compare Calvin with Zits.

Aack. I know, and I apologize


In that case I will leave the argument alone, but I will still recommend the instructive exercise I was going to. Find a collection of Dennis the Menace cartoons and open it to a random page. See how many tries it takes before you hit a gag that was reused nearly verbatim in Calvin & Hobbes. I did this yesterday with the first volume of the "Complete" collection (in a bookstore, I don't own the thing) and it only took me three tries.


This is not to suggest that C&H is particularly derivative of Dennis the Menace, since I don't think it is, just that certain things tend to naturally occur under similar initial conditions.

#471 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 07:42 PM:

Double dactyls are more complicated than higgledypiggledys. I looked this up because it's been a while since I thought about them, but I was right. They require a proper noun as the second line in the first stanza, which is what usually tells the difference. Wikipedia has a definition.

#472 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 08:46 PM:

Arrgh! I used to know one that started:

Higgledy piggledy
Ursus horribilis
Stomps through the woods on his
plantigrade feet...

but the rest of it has abandoned me. I know it was in print-published form. My Google Fu is insufficient to find it online anywhere.

#473 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 09:52 PM:

This is not to suggest that C&H is particularly derivative of Dennis the Menace, since I don't think it is, just that certain things tend to naturally occur under similar initial conditions.

And precocious small boys get into the same kinds of trouble. Any parent with sons will read DtM or C&H and say "my son did something just like that..."

#474 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 10:47 PM:

Janet, it's not a word. It's better spoken, really. Some types of sea cucumber have a rather interesting approach to predation. If you take the sea cucumber and rap it sharply, it stiffens-- you can hold it out like a regular cucumber. If you rub it vigorously, it gets more and more upset, then dissolves.
I'm told it's one of the more disgusting things that can happen to an invertebrate zoologist.
Of course, the holothuroid can't reconstitute itself once it's turned into the nastiest mouthful possible. It's just helped all the other sea cucumbers avoid predation, like a monarch butterfly.

Thanks for the rhymes, everyone-- I have the lower three-fifths of a limerick written, and 'barnacle' doesn't rhyme with much.

#475 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 11:08 PM:

Aha! I must have selected the wrong variety of persimmon - astringent is definitely a good adjective. Thanks for the quick overview.

I think I'll wait for next fall, when they're plentiful and cheap and try again.

#476 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 12:34 AM:

Today is annual Make a Half a Dozen Batches of Brownies Covered with Fudge to Leave Out at Work day.

Observed in my home only, as far as I know.

A great messy affair. Many cans of condensed milk and nine bags of off-brand chocolate chips were sacrified.

I left the TV on. Out of curiosity, I put on the Jim Carrey "Grinch" movie before my hands got too grungy to handle the remote.

Cripes . . . what were they thinking? I heard it was a stinker, but sheesh!

#477 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:13 AM:

Ooops. Wrong product. I found a book that looked like the magnets. (Because the cover is just a picture of one of the damned magnets.)

#478 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:13 AM:

Persimmons are practically a nuisance fruit here in the Bay Area-- they're very pretty as they cling to the bare branches of their trees after the leaves have fallen, but by the same token, they're generally not being picked to be eaten. I don't know what their owners end up doing with most of them, though occasionally people will just leave baskets of them out by the sidewalk.

I think there's a specialized Japanese adjective to describe the astringency of an unripe persimmon, but I can't find it right now. It's the fault of tannins, though. Something something acetaldehyde and stuff.

McGee cites several traditional Chinese and Japanese methods of ripening them, all of which enclose the fruits away from oxygen-- submerging them in water or sake, putting them in a covered jar with a burning stick of incense, encasing them in mud/clay, etc. Simply encasing them plastic bags/wrap didn't do the trick, but individually triple-Saran-wrapped fruits ripened nicely when stored inside a gas oven for a day, thanks to the baseline effects of the pilot light. You can also stuff them into the freezer, but then the tannins take at least ten days to disappear and the pulp defrosts all mooshy-like.

Playing with the pH of persimmon pulp by adding baking soda, lemon juice, or whatnot can have weird gelling effects which can also happen in the stomach, causing phytobezoars, so don't overdo the persimmon chowdown.

#479 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:18 AM:

The tenor drummer in the bagpipe corps at my daughter's high school is a Tamil, and her family worships Kali, just as a regular ordinary all-purpose goddess. Her big sister started explaining, but decided it was too complicated to express (I don't think it would have been to hard to understand, actually, but we were busy chaperoning the band and I could understand why she wouldn't want to get too deeply into anything)

#480 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:22 AM:

Here is someone claiming to sell the "original" Support Our Troops magnets. Their price is $1.50, but I've seen other stores quote prices up to $5.00.

The Wal-Mart web site doesn't appear to list the product, and I am not burning the gas to drive into fscking Daly City to go find out what is the current price on their in-store stock.

Nevertheless, I think the corrected price comes out to around six or seven magnets per man-hour. Still quite an impressive amount of labor, and I would never have guessed it could be such a labor intensive process.

Ayse Sercan has definitely convinced me of something here...

#481 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:24 AM:

Drat. Wrong thread. Kill. Me. Now.

#482 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:34 AM:

Here in the midwest/south we have native persimmon trees. Before frosting, a persimmon will pucker you better than a chunk of alum. Yikes! After a full freezing frost, they're quite edible but you have to worry about getting too much skin... it's indigestible. I think they're tasty, but it may be an acquired taste.

And I think this came from "A Face in the Frost", I'm at our club's Xmas party on the hotel's internet access so I don't remember/can't look up the author:

Higgledy piggledy, St. Athanasius
Thumbing through volumes in unseemly haste
trying to find out if, hagiographically
John of Jereuselam
enjoyed almond paste.

#483 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:59 AM:

Higgledy-piggledies vs. double dactyls: the way I read Marilee's Wikipedia article, there isn't any real difference (except that "double-dactyl" refers to the stress pattern of six of the lines as well). Whichever you write, you are traditionally supposed to have a nonsense line at the start, a proper name in the second line, and a single double-dactylic word in the sixth (or in the second stanza at least). It's the last part that makes it so difficult: there are a limited range of six-syllable single words with a natural double-dactyl stress.

My usual guide here is E.O. Parrott's How To Be Well-Versed in Poetry, which I hereby recommend to everyone still reading, and which also claims that the form was invented in 1951 by Anthony Hecht.

My understanding is that once you get rid of the single-word rule and the nonsense line at the start, then you are writing a McWhirtle. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

For 'barnacle' - well, 'Sparnicle', obviously. Tyrannical? Canonical? Harmonical? Cyclonical? 'Karmical' is probably not a word, but would be a half-rhyme if it were. 'Adolf von Harnack'll'? In French, one of the hills of Rome is the Janicule. And a railway up a hill is a funicule.

That will do for now.

#484 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 02:04 AM:

I wouldn't call 'sparnicle' an obvious rhyme. You want echinoderm classes to line up neatly, I can do that. Fish are vertebrates. I don't do vertebrates. But thank you.

#485 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 02:08 AM:

Richard Pryor has left the auditorium.

I'm gonna be about as crass as a guy can be at a moment like this and quote one of my own characters:

If the gods are laughing at us, then by damn they aren't getting their laughs cheap.

#486 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 06:40 AM:

if the support our troops magnets don't actually send any money to the troops then I suppose that the support is all in just possessing one, not in the spending. Thus support could also be shown by having numerous ones.

Would it be okay to support the troops by hijacking a shipment of magnets and festooning them all over one's car? And can one festoon magnets?

#487 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 07:44 AM:

Saw Narnia yesterday night. Maybe it's because I never read the original story and so have neither love nor hatred for it, but the movie left me a bit cold. Tilda Swinton, much as I like her, looked silly in that dress that appeared like she had a football player's shoulder hidden in there. And every time the older brother pulled his sword out of its scabbard, I wanted to tell him to stop playing with that thing before he hurts himself.

#488 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 07:49 AM:

Oops... Dropped a word from that Narnia comment, but Tilda Swinton did look like she was wearing an football player's shoulder GEAR under her dress.

#489 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 07:50 AM:

Richard Pryor passed away, Mike? That's a shame. I never saw one of his shows, but I did like his movies.

#490 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 09:39 AM:

Eugene McCarthy, too.

Bad day.

#491 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 10:06 AM:

There's a longuish article about Eugene on Salon.com.

#492 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 11:53 AM:

That Salon article actually is an interview with McCarthy given before last year's Election. It's obvious he still didn't like Bobby Kennedy after all this time. What I'm curious about is a comment in the interviewer's intro...

"...Running against Lyndon Johnson was not the first time Gene McCarthy had shown iconoclastic courage. In 1952, at the height of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's popularity, when not a single senator would step forward to debate the subversive-chasing demagogue, 35-year-old, second-term congressman Eugene McCarthy came forward to oppose Sen. McCarthy (no relation) on the Radio Forum of the Air (...) But after 1968 McCarthy baffled many of his supporters and colleagues by choosing not to run for reelection to the Senate in 1970, running a quixotic campaign for president as an Independent in 1976, then running as a Democrat again in 1992 at the age of 76, and, not least, by endorsing Ronald Reagan in 1980..."

What was that last part about?

#493 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 12:55 PM:

Pryor's movie roles made him look sketchy or even cuddly ("The Toy"). These were "bill payer" roles, I suspect.

Raw comedy was more his thing. This morning, NPR ran a bit from a 1982 performance in which he described being on fire, and how it enhanced his atheletic performance. At least in running. Great stuff.

Pryor had a short-lived TV comedy that I remember as being hilarious. Not "blue," but pretty daring.

#494 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 01:39 PM:

Something tells me that Pryor's work on the 3rd Superman movie was also a bill payer.

#495 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 02:05 PM:

Serge, the weekday strips in the _Calvin and Hobbes_ collection have not been colored.

#496 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 02:59 PM:

Glad to hear that about C&H, Kate. I think that color gets in the way of that strip's art. I have now given my wife some (not) very subtle hints about what I'd like to get for our 20th wedding anniversary.

#497 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 04:07 PM:

Serge,

We are clearly two halves of a complete fan. I must have been reading Narnia while you were reading the X-Men. I'm not sure whether this gives me a better perspective on the film (which I just saw with my son), but it gives me a different one.

I rather liked the White Witch's look - very Borg Queen. She did a good line in creepy nastiness, too. And I agree about Peter - I was hoping he would grow into his destiny as High King onscreen. But he always seemed awkward and uncertain.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed it. Lucy, who is really the lynchpin of the film, was well played. Both Susan and Edmund were allowed to change as characters, and the magical creatures of Narnia came across very well. I didn't find Aslan as supernatural as I might have hoped, but I think that's partly that Liam Neeson's voice is a little light for the part. Something in me wants him to sound like Mufasa from the Lion King (though perhaps less ethnic).

My son, at 4 1/2, was at the very bottom of the age range to handle the darker elements of the plot. He's a mature 4 1/2 year old, well-seasoned in genre films, but he spent most of it in my lap. (He came straight home and dug out a shield to add to his usual swordplay, so the film was not all scary for him)

#498 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 04:51 PM:

It's true, abi, that I've always leaned more SF than fantasy. But my response to Narnia wasn't so much because of the SF/F opposition. And the more I think about it, the more I think I was unfair toward the movie, wanting it to be something other than what it was supposed to be. The source material really is a fairy tale while I wanted it to be a fantasy. Does that make sense?

Tilda Swinton was absolutely great. When we first see her in her sleigh, she was deliciously evil. In her palace though, her dress looked like she was using a football player's shoulder gear for a bra. It was distracting. To me, anyway.

It sounds like we aren't really in disagreement about the oldest boy. He never was given the chance to grow. I liked the two girls and I was kind of bummed that they never were part of the final battle. Maybe that's the way it is in the original material. So, like I said before, I was being unfair.

By the way, Salon.com's Stephanie Zacharek had told her readers that they should sit thru the credits so we did while people in the audience started walking toward the door. When the uncle and the little girl showed up again, everybody just froze and watched.

Have you ever seen the movie shadowland, where Anthony Hopkins played C.S. Lewis. He had a great line, probably lifted from the author's own writing.

"We read to know we're not alone."

#499 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 04:52 PM:

In another thread I mentioned fanac (fan activity), well, my first polac took place when I was 13 -- 1968 -- and actively campaigned for McCarthy. I wonder what would have happened if he'd won.

#500 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 05:16 PM:

Serge,

I was more referring to my yawning gulfs in graphic novel knowledge and your lack of Narnia than to fantasy vs SF. (Though, I confess, I have tended more toward fantasy, it's only a slight lean.)

I think we are in general agreement, apart from whether the White Witch's wardrobe is bizzare and good or bizzare and bad.

My son and I were on our way out the door when the last bit stopped us in our tracks. It reminded me of Shadowlands, but not because of the line you quoted. I was thinking of that scene at the end, when Joy Gresham's orphaned son finds the wardrobe in Lewis' attic and is bitterly disappointed to find that it is just a wardrobe. It's the moment when he realises that there really is no magic to bring his mother back.

I am aware that my reaction to Narnia is partly a result of the emotional shading I have from reading, and loving, the books from very early childhood (I was about 7 when my dad read them to me, as part of a long series of readings-aloud that my mother started at four with LoTR.) I no doubt imbued the characters and events in the film with depths from the books and my childhood imagination.

On the other hand, I did appreciate some additional touches that the film brought to the story. For instance, my memory is that the characters all went meekly along to their destiny in the book. I liked how they repeatedly considered ditching the whole risky enterprise and fleeing back through the wardrobe in the film. Likewise, bringing the reality of World War II into their emotional lives gave the characters more real-world context than they have in the book.

#501 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 06:43 PM:

I just ran across this sig on rec.arts.sf.written.

"Rings, rings, wherever they may be,
I am the Lord of the Rings," said he.
"And I'll find them all, wherever they may be,
And I'll bind them all in the dark," said he.

The earliest use I've been able to find on Google Groups is by a fellow named Kevin Ahearn; it's not clear to me whether he wrote it.

#502 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 07:03 PM:

JulieL:

McGee does go into deep technical detail about how to ripen persimmons; in an oxygen-free environment, their metabolism shifts to produce acetylaldehyde, which binds with the tannins (and keeps them from binding with your tongue). But the key piece of info is that most plastic wraps and plastic bags (ie Ziploc bags) are made of polyethylene, through which oxygen can diffuse readily. Saran Wrap, on the other hand, is polyvinylidene chloride, which has a much lower diffusion coefficient for oxygen. So it was the triple-wrapping in Saran Wrap that likely did the trick, although the warmth of the pilot light might have helped.

#503 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 08:18 PM:

The talk about persimmons reminds me of medlars, which I've run across only occasionally, and that in Shakespeare:

Rosalind. I’ll graff it with you, and then I shall graff it with a medlar: then it will be the earliest fruit i’ the country; for you’ll be rotten ere you be half ripe, and that’s the right virtue of the medlar.

-- As You Like It

#504 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 08:36 PM:

Lila: Boolean searches all failed to find me a sign of the verses you couldn't complete. Higgledy piggledy, likely it wasn't some poor Google-fu-ing that caused your defeat.

Cassie: Thanks for the description of the sea cucumber's self-sacrificing species-defense. Yuck'll.

Julie: Thanks for that gruesome little detail about persimmons and phytobezoars.

Higgledy piggledy,
unripe persimmons
will pucker your beezer
and leave you all sore.

Even when ripe, they may
gell in your belly,
creating a dangerous
phytobezoar.

---

Then I had to go check pronunciation. Merriam Webster and American Heritage agree that it has a long "e," parting on whether the accent is on the first syllable, or the two have fairly equal emphasis. Hmpf. So I had to rework it.

Higgledy piggledy,
unripe persimmons
will pucker your mouth
till you look like a geezer.

Even when ripe, they may
gell in your belly,
creating a dangerous,
huge phytobezoar.

#505 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 08:53 PM:

Serge: I liked the two girls and I was kind of bummed that they never were part of the final battle.

Yes, that's Lewis:
"Battles are ugly when women fight"
(Father Christmas, on giving Susan and Lucy emergency archery kit.)

wrt which, one of the local critic's complaints was that the battle (which is almost entirely off-stage in the book) bent the film out of shape -- it's not supposed to be a LoTR spectacular. I'll see it and make up my mind later this week; I have a weakness for Carmina Burana-style soundtracks....

#506 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 10:16 PM:

Thank you to those who posted about oil with garlic cloves and how it goes bad! We opened a bottle of 'Italian Herbal Oil' (olive oil with herbs and a clove of garlic) this evening and it went 'pop!'. It was closed up and tossed out. (The garlic clove was actually floating: this is not a good sign!)

#507 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 12:34 AM:

I wouldn't call 'sparnicle' an obvious rhyme.

It's OK, I was kidding. My method was to invent words that *would* rhyme with 'barnacle' if they existed and then to Google for them. I'm surprised it actually worked to any extent.

Boolean searches all failed to find me a sign of the verses you couldn't complete. Higgledy piggledy, likely it wasn't some poor Google-fu-ing that caused your defeat.

Ouch. I'm glad you put the clue in there or I would have missed the form. Needless to say, I'm very impressed. Although I ought to expect to be impressed by the ML comments by now...

Without meaning to compete, though, the one about Athanasius has provoked me into dragging out more of the stuff I have lying around. This came after some professor in Chicago (I think) challenged his students to write limericks beginning "Serapion, Bishop of Thmuis". The ones I saw didn't rhyme properly and weren't historically accurate, which I decided to try to fix:

Serapion, Bishop of Thmuis,
Attending Nicaea, asked "Who is
The man who agreed
That contemptible creed?"
At which Arius shouted out "You is!"

(I will defend the historical accuracy of the bad grammar here if anyone asks me to. Don't.)

Serapion, Bishop of Thmuis,
Said (arguing faith with a Jewess):
"I must disabuse ya
The term homoousia
Defines more or less what my view is."

Serapion, Bishop of Thmuis,
Though beards were unfash'nable, grew his:
His fearsome appearance
Encouraged adherence,
Flushing heretics out like a sluice.

Serapion, Bishop of Thmuis,
Played cricket with Satan in Suez
For the soul of a sinner:
The eventual winner
Was decided by Duckworth and Lewis.

There might possibly be some anachronisms in the last one. As you will have spotted, about the only thing I know about Serapion is that he was a friend of Athanasius and a partisan of the Nicene Creed against Arianism. I bet he had a beard, though.

#508 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 12:55 AM:

The only Invert limerick I can come up with is

The tapework, so gracefully thin,
contains no GI tract within.
Though its scolex grips firm,
'tis no mouth for the worm
for a cestode absorbs through its skin.

If I can bash 'barnacle' in, I'll have a much better one.

I like the you-is one. It's a nice limericky thing. Which makes sense in a way I am not.

#509 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 01:03 AM:

Marilee wonders what would have happened had Eugene McCarthy won in 1968.

Won what? A primary? He didn't even do that -- he had a strong showing in New Hampshire but lost it. That encouraged Robert Kennedy, the only Democratic anti-war candidate with any chance of winning, to enter the race. RFK won all the primaries he entered except Oregon but IIRC Humphrey won that one. (Maybe I'm wrong and McCarthy won Oregon. I'll try to remember to look it up tomorrow when I go to work. If I go -- I have a bad cold that seemed to settle on me this morning.)

It's not even certain that if Bobby had lived he would have won the nomination, much less the election. The party regulars and bosses were still firmly ensconced and tended to be for the safe (not rocking the boat) Vice President Humphrey. Also, I don't think McCarthy could have beat Nixon. There were too many dirty tricks even in 1968, and I doubt that "Clean Gene" would have been up for that sort of thing. Bobby, though, could give as well as he got, so that would have been interesting. Maybe not the ideal sort of politics we learned about in school, but interesting. I also still think RFK would have had a better chance of winning the election than Humphrey, had he got the nomination, and Humphrey lost by a very small margin. (I remember being up until 4:30 in the TV lounge in the dorm waiting for the networks to declare a winner.)

I do think that *if* either Kennedy or McCarthy, though, won in 1968 that we would probably have gotten out of Vietnam earlier and that the civil rights and war on poverty problems at home would have been addressed better.

That said, I do have a McCarthy button around here. I stopped into his campaign headquarters and picked it up after RFK died, in fact the week of the convention (which was the week of our freshman orientation). It was by then a sure thing that HHH would win the nomination, though.

(I could not vote then, not being of age, which was 21 then, and I didn't even turn 18 until later in November. But I did work a bit for the campaign for Pennsylvania's senator Joe Clark [who lost], which was my first real "pol ac".

And my *dad* voted for McCarthy in one of the elections where he ran as an independent. Dad had come to dislike the two-party system and as a bit of a protest, though he remained registered as a Democrat, voted for a "third-party" candidate in every Presidential election for about 20 years. McCarthy, Wallace, Anderson, it didn't make much difference to Dad. But Dad broke the mold in 1992, his last election, by voting for Clinton. "I couldn't bring myself to vote for a billionaire," meaning Perot, he told me.

#510 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 01:31 AM:

Thanks for your responses, abi and CHip. I was afraid that my comments about Narnia would come out as an attack against something that is so important to others.

#511 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 01:34 AM:

Why did Eugene McCarthy endorse Ronnie Raygun in 1980?

#512 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 01:50 AM:

The Holidays are approaching fast. You know what that means, besides the fruitcake, and Bill O'Reilly and too much eating and too much drinking? New Year used to be blah to me after all that Xmas fun, but not anymore, not since I noticed that it is a tradition at the Skiffy Channel to treat us to a Twilight Zone marathon.

#513 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 03:44 AM:

Whoa... Mike Wallace must be getting really cranky as he gets older, if I am to believe what I just read in Tim Grieve's War Room column at Salon.com. I especially liked the last part.

[h]ere's former "60 Minutes" reporter Mike Wallace on what he'd ask George W. Bush if he were ever given the chance: "What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious. You didn't want to travel. You knew very little about the military ... The governor of Texas doesn't have the kind of power that some governors have ... Why do you think they nominated you? ... Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?"

#514 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 05:47 AM:

From the Audin Rag:
The biggest industrial fire in peacetime Europe yesterday sent a plume of toxic black smoke into the sky ...

Polydore Virgule, the Strolling Copyeditor, would like to know what was yesterday's second biggest industrial fire in peacetime Europe. (Probably the one in Yukos's file room.)

Avedon has already reported on this.

#515 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 06:31 AM:

Well, I've found what I want for Christmas. And as a dictionary addict of sorts, I'm now fulminating (gently) that I never got round to producing a modern version of Mrs Byrnes' Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, a much-loved old fave of mine. I've just heard this has been published in Australia. It sounds like something other wordophiliacs round here may have already latched onto, so apologies if it's old news.

The Meaning of Tingo, by Adam Jacot de Boinod, a collection of odd, interesting, unusual or untranslatable words from around the world. Writing it involved reading translation dictionaries all day, most days, for a year and a half, and noting entries he found bizarre or culturally informative. He now owns between 150 and 180 dictionaries and estimates he read about 280.

"I think it was Salman Rushdie or someone who said that a culture can very much be defined by its untranslatable words," Jacot de Boinod says. He believes that you can very often find out more about a culture from its language than a guide book. He plans to keep on working and bring out more books about words. He has, after all, examined only 280 languages. By his estimate, there are 6,520 left to explore.
There is even a site http://www.themeaningoftingo.com

#516 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 07:52 AM:

"one of the local critic's complaints was that the battle (which is almost entirely off-stage in the book) bent the film out of shape -- it's not supposed to be a LoTR spectacular."
it always was in my imagination.

#517 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 09:02 AM:

Though I didn't say Hobbes didn't do things Hector wouldn't

Oops, so you didn't. Oh well, it was worth quoting anyway.

#518 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 09:18 AM:

Speaking of battles in pre-technological stories, what would be an example of a book where that was especially well done? It's been so long since I read LoTR that I can't remember if Tolkien actually went into a lot of details.

#519 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 10:07 AM:

CHip said I have a weakness for Carmina Burana-style soundtracks..... Ah, if only I did too, but I've gotten heartily sick of them! Just hearing a snippet of one in a movie ad makes me want to avoid the film. Not true for LOTR, since "Buranization" seems appropriate for a genuinely weighty epic with moral/religious overtones. But if some crazed genius ever filmed part of G.R.R. Martin's ongoing project with such a soundtrack, it wouldn't work for me -- his characters may believe in their gods (sometimes), but their moral nature tends toward infinite, fascinating shades of gray.

Any suggestions for an appropriate soundtrack for G.R.R.? For the latest one, the squawking of crows and ravens could be manipulated into something "modern." (In related news, be sure to check out the NY Times interview with him that's now online.)

#520 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 10:21 AM:

Was the soundtrack of LoTR really buranized?

#521 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 10:39 AM:

How about Ennio Morricone in his glory days, Faren?

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 12:34 PM:

I don't know if this happened natiowide, but, when I saw Narnia, I also caught the coming attraction for the next Pirates of the Carribeans. Looks like it's going to be even more fun than the original. And Davey Jones does look like Cthulhu's relative.

#523 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 12:35 PM:

My, this thread has grown.

Thought y'all might like this:

Holy Tango of Literature

#524 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 12:46 PM:

Speaking of battles in pre-technological stories, what would be an example of a book where that was especially well done?

Jo Walton's Sulien books and the prequel are very good at that, though I think the word you want is "pre-industrial," because there's no such thing as a pre-technological human: we've got pretty clear evidence that our ancestors had technology before they were human.

I was most impressed by a cattle raid in The Prize in the Game.

#525 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 01:00 PM:

Yes, Lucy, I did mean pre-industrial. And pre-firearm. Pre-technology doesn't make much sense, doesn't it? In fact that's one of the things that always bug me about stories set in a universe where magic works but technology doesn't. After all, the human body obeys the same rules of physics and chemistry that a shotgun does.

Thanks for the recommendations.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for this thread to implode, what with its having over 500 messages in it.

#526 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 01:24 PM:

Speaking of battles in pre-technological stories, what would be an example of a book where that was especially well done?

Fletcher Pratt's The Well Of The Unicorn comes to mind--the battle scenes are one of the many ways it was ahead of its time (slightly pre-Tolkien).

#527 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 01:52 PM:

Pratt? Thanks, Tim.

#528 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 02:00 PM:

"one of the local critic's complaints was that the battle (which is almost entirely off-stage in the book) bent the film out of shape -- it's not supposed to be a LoTR spectacular."
it always was in my imagination.

The rules of storytelling are different for cinema, particularly cinema of this time and place, than for CS Lewis writing a book. You have to show the battles or people feel cheated.

Having said that, for me, neither LoTR nor Narnia were really "battle books" for me. Nor, despite the energy that went into Helm's Deep, Pelinor Fields, and whatever-they-called-it in Narnia, do I consider the films "battle films". I'm usually tempted to fast-forward past the LoTR battles the way I do past self-indulgent guitar solos in live recordings. I suspect I'll do the same with this on DVD when I get it.

I prefer the way the characters move through the landscape as they move through the plot. For me, they're all travel books, and travel films.

#529 ::: Elio M. García, Jr. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 03:22 PM:

Faren,

Hrm, interesting question on soundtrack. My only hope would be that something Ladyhawke-ish isn't put forward -- ugh. The whole synth thing never worked for me in that film. I do agree that Carmina Burana-inspired music would be too weighty and strange....

Personally, I wouldn't mind something inspired by medieval music -- how often do you hear some decent lute music when at the pictures? ;) More seriously ... I honestly can't come up with something. Given how Martin has explained it as being a reaction to his time in Hollywood, and the fact that he actually has a mental image of which actors should play which character, I wonder if his mind's ear has a soundtrack as well.

As an aside, I've been hunting for the November issue of Locus where your review of Martin's latest is located, and still haven't been able to get a hold of it (the SF Bokshop here in Gothenburg seems to have sold its last copy). Would it be inappropriate to ask for a one line (or one word, even) summary of your estimation of the novel?

#530 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 04:02 PM:

Humphrey lost by a very small margin. (I remember being up until 4:30 in the TV lounge in the dorm waiting for the networks to declare a winner.)

I remember it being announced at lunchtime the next day, in my Michigan grade school cafeteria. "Nixon won!" shouted the (hired college student) lunchroom supervisor.

I was the only kid who didn't cheer.

#531 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 04:19 PM:

A photo from London which looks like it's taken from a skiffy movie (one aquaintance said he was expecting to see a Nazgûl come in from the edge of the picture at any moment).

#532 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 05:35 PM:

I distinctly remember rooting for Nixon because he had an "x" in his name. That made him cool to my six-year-old mind.

#533 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 07:05 PM:

I've found a great piece of wingnut astroturf which you yourself may have received via email and believed. It has all the provenance of the poodle in the microwave, but about 300 people have posted it on the Internet.

#534 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 09:40 PM:

"Battles are ugly when women fight" is--I hope--the stupidest thing Lewis ever said.

Not because women make battles less ugly, but because all battles are ugly.

#535 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 09:53 PM:

Candle: Many thanks, and Wow! You're right - this is a right impressive crowd here.

I'm not sure whether I'm more impressed by the limericks or your knowledge about Serapion, given that I had no idea that Thmuis or Serapion *existed,* much less any facts at all about them. You get extra points for "homoousia," which I also had to look up. Very cool.

Now if I could only understand the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on Monophysites ...

I suspect that I should, because I believe Peter Dickinson explained it somewhere in The Dancing Bear (search for the title to find his explanation of why he wrote it), but it's one of the bits that didn't stick with me.

Cassie: It's demnd hard to write invertebrate verse that sticks to the facts. I tried writing an invertebrate alphabet for a computer-friend's 5-year-old, and only made it through M. And it was pure fantasy, the main premise being that Tristen cooks and eats each critter.

I like your tapeworm.


Epacris: What a wonderful-looking volume! Alas, I'm not likely to get it for Christmas. Not that I'm complaining - the relative most likely to have been aware that it existed gave $100 to the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, in which I sing and which is putting on Messiah because the orchestra can't.


Faren: The Man In My Life suggests as a sound track for George R.R. Martin's whateverology "repetitions of the Dead March from Saul, interspersed with shouts of `WHAT?????'"

My choice for worst-ever sound track (and composer) is the former Cat Stevens for The Last Unicorn. His style ain't noway fantasy nor medieval. And the book *has* songs. They shoulda used 'em.

About the only thing I did like about that movie was the Red Bull.

#536 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 10:11 PM:

Elio M. Garcia sez --

As an aside, I've been hunting for the November issue of Locus where your review of Martin's latest is located, and still haven't been able to get a hold of it (the SF Bokshop here in Gothenburg seems to have sold its last copy). Would it be inappropriate to ask for a one line (or one word, even) summary of your estimation of the novel?

Actually it was my review in the November issue -- Faren's was in the December issue. A one-word summary of Faren's estimation would be "good." (I think, anyway -- dunno if she would agree. Faren?) One word for me would be "great."

My review is up at my website. Can I link to it, or is that too tacky? Well, I'll do it, and Teresa can disemvowel the link if she likes.

Lisa's Website

#537 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 11:26 PM:

Through Dover port the coffins come
All those who witness are kept mum
And censorship hold cameras banned,
Upon the tarmac made so bland,
That the public shall stay dumb.

They are the Dead. Short days ago
They lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved now coffins sit
On Dover tar.

Hide the coffins from the public,
The ghouls in Washington tells lies,
Soldiers dead in Iraq come home,
Faith broke with them before they died,
And their deaths are censored and hid,
On Dover tar.

#538 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 11:41 PM:

"one of the local critic's complaints was that the battle (which is almost entirely off-stage in the book) bent the film out of shape -- it's not supposed to be a LoTR spectacular."
it always was in my imagination.

The battle was certainly large-scale -- Lewis gives some feel for that in the aftermath -- but he wasn't interested in the battle, only in individual people. (Possibly he, like Tolkien, had had his fill in World War I, but reacted differently.) IMO showing the battle isn't necessary, but I didn't put a hundred million dollars or so into the film.

Faren: I think we differ in the intent and impact of Orff. I certainly don't see his work as religious (setting aside the story of the material being written by a monastery-load of monks who had forsaken their vows -- IMO that's unverified); nor does it have anything to do with black-and-white morality/ethics/... -- I don't think it would work for a movie of The Stand, which justifies having "Once to Every Man and Nation" on its frontispiece. I associate the music with high tension, and "Winter Is Coming" certainly fits with that.

Lois et al: sometime before RFK's assassination, Life ran a fiction about the election and aftermath in which RFK did well enough that the Republican nominee (I forget who) couldn't win outright (as Nixon did), making Wallace a spoiler. Whether the maneuverings in the story would have broken the U.S. altogether or "merely" broken the civil rights movement (as the Hayes bargain was to shut down Reconstruction) is anyone's guess; I very much doubt anything good (e.g., destruction of the Electoral College, "instant-runoff" elections) would have come of it.
I agree with the story's basis; with Wallace in the race, RFK would have been very unlikely to win outright. Note that Nixon was reportedly very worried about his next opponent doing enough better than Humphrey to cause such a tangle, which would explain why he set the IRS on Wallace with the object of preventing a rerun. (I don't know when this started to come out but I remember it being a big story in July 1988.)

#539 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 05:29 AM:

I don't have a link for this, but it seems to be genuine: Hayao Miyazaki's son is to create his first animation film based on Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series. The movie is due out in Fapan next (northern) summer.

#540 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 07:26 AM:

Huh. The main news source I've found for the "Earthsea" anime is most of the way down this page:

9-20-05 (4:12AM EST)---- Gedo Senki To Be Ghibli And Miyazaki's Next?
According to a blog entry of an anonymous editor working for a publisher in Tokyo, the next film animation work to be tackled by Studio Ghibli will be based on the Earthsea series of novels by American fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin. Specifically, the book Gedo Senki (Japanese Title). Hayao Miyazaki will reportedly direct. The editor learned of this news when a film rights option was being sought by the book's Japanese publisher Iwanami Shoten. The America-based Sci-Fi Channel adapted Le Guin's Earthsea series to TV in 2004 in it's "Legend of Earthsea" miniseries. The author has expressed her disapproval of the faithfulness to the original works of the above TV version. Miyazaki has in the past admitted being an admirer of Le Guin's writings.
#541 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 10:07 AM:

I know it's rude to say "you people", but you people put a double dactyl earworm into my head. I am holding the entirety of science fiction fandom personally responsible. And your doggerel, too.

Having said that, Robert Graves seems to me to be an appropriate subject for a double dactyl:

Unpeaceful pacifist
Arrogant masochist
Survived the trenches
and walked with the dead.
Dreamed of a Goddess as white as a bone
"I'm not a witch, I'm a poet," he said.

#542 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 10:13 AM:

Elio, you can click on my posting above (I'd click on yours, but it leads to a website not a plain address) and I'll send you a RichText version of my review. I liked the book a lot but thought it required so much "multitasking" from the reader, its greatest moment nearly got lost -- the review uses a more elaborate simile for that!

#543 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 10:26 AM:

You. . .you people. . . poets, that's what you are! Ssss!

I started a double dactlyl while waiting for my car, but got distracted by trying to make the first line consist of two nonsense-sounding words which are both meaningful and relevant.

Needless to say, I never got to a second line.

#544 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 10:34 AM:

Huh oh... Calling people names, Sandy? You wouldn't say that to Tommy Lee Jones's face, would you? If I remember correctly, he was the editor of a student's poetry publication at Harvard.

#545 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 10:44 AM:

Sandy said:

I started a double dactlyl while waiting for my car, but got distracted by trying to make the first line consist of two nonsense-sounding words which are both meaningful and relevant.

I gave up on "nonsense-sounding" altogether and went for "contradictory." Which is not correct. But I think it might be easier to do the rest of the poem first, and attack the first two words last.

#546 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 11:01 AM:

I fear dactyls. I have a terror-dactyl problem. It makes me de-spondee-nt. Iamb ashamed of this.

#547 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 12:20 PM:

Walking home last night I passed a classic London newspaper seller (in his sixties, flat cap, scarf, overcoat) standing placidly beside a board that announced POISON CLOUD HITS LONDON TONIGHT.

I felt as though I had stepped into an episode of "The Quatermass Experiment" or the sixties "Doctor Who" where every other week saw bizarre and unearthly threats to London greeted in the same phlegmatic manner.

"GIANT ROBOTS ADVANCE ON CAPITAL : SPORTS LATEST"

#548 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 12:32 PM:

London sounds like the Marvel Comics version of New York City, ajay. Speaking of Quatermass, I had heard that someone was working on bringing him back to the big screen, but I haven't heard a word in some time.

#549 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Horribly Tommy Lee
Jones had a history
Writing his poetry
Going to school.

Calling my bluff as I
call out your poe-try
This cannot end well; I
hope he's not cruel.

Dear self: "Quick" is not an exact synonym for "clever."

#550 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 12:55 PM:

Found via Pharyngula, in which PZ Myers looks for sciencey and/or non-religious holiday music:

GOD REST YE, UNITARIANS

God rest ye, Unitarians, let nothing you dismay;
Remember there’s no evidence
There was a Christmas Day;
When Christ was born is just not known,
No matter what they say,

O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

Our current Christmas customs come
From Persia and from Greece,
From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East.
This whole darn Christmas spiel is just
Another pagan feast,

O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

There was no star of Bethlehem,
There was no angels’ song;
There couldn’t have been wise men
For the trip would take too long.
The stories in the Bible are historically wrong,

O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

#551 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 12:59 PM:

Right. Next person who commits an act of poetry is getting ticketed by the meter maid.

#552 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 02:12 PM:

There couldn’t have been wise men
For the trip would take too long.

Well, actually..."Magi" are astrologers. The "star" was likely the triple conjunction of Mars and Jupiter that occurred in 4 BCE; they certainly would have been able to calculate months in advance that it was going to occur, and taken the journey.

However, the gifts they gave according to the Bible are all grave goods. Gold is kingship burial gift; myrrh is a burial ointment; frankincense was burned to cover the smell of a dead body. That part of the story is so symbol-laden that it's hard to believe it.

OTOH, the stories of the Beatles being set upon by crazed girls and having their clothing torn are just late versions of the story of Orpheus, the great singer who was set upon by crazed Maenad women and torn to pieces, right? There are symbols in real stories, too, and symbols can be added to history by retelling, especially in a people who at that time had NO tradition of keeping track of events as they happened.

#553 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 03:34 PM:

Are you saying that the Beatles didn't get their clothing torn off?

Or are you saying that people reported it because it resonated?

I confuse easily today.

#554 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 04:57 PM:

"ticketed by the meter maid."

Groan.

#555 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 04:59 PM:

'Meter maids'... Man, it gets verse and verse around here...

#556 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 05:10 PM:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
My dog is dead,
He smelled my shoes

(He-man and the Masters of the Loony Verse)

#557 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 06:46 PM:

Julie L.:I think there's a specialized Japanese adjective to describe the astringency of an unripe persimmon, but I can't find it right now.

Just a minute... Here it is. Takao Suzuki uses it as an example in Words in Context. I'm don't know if it's really any more persimmon-specific than English "astringent", but it's clear that shibui must be the word you're thinking of.

«The word shibui 'astringent' is defined in the Japanese dictionary cited earlier as follows: "a stinging and numbing sensation felt on the tongue when eating a shibugaki 'astringent persimmon' and the like." This explanation says nothing about what shibui 'astringent' or shibusa 'astringent quality' means. What is mentioned is how the feeling of shibui, as known to the dictionary editors, may be attained by the reader; it is, as it were, a set of directions on how to reach a certain destination. Things beyond that point are all left to the unverifiable, although intuitively plausible, assumption that all people can obtain identical (or similar) experiences under identical (or similar) conditions. It essentially says the following: "Do not merely look at, but eat, an unripe green persimmon instead of a ripe red one. The sensation you experience on your tongue is the sensation called shibusa in Japanese."»

#558 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 06:51 PM:

London sounds like the Marvel Comics version of New York City...

Well, in fact, NYC is increasingly the Marvel version of NYC. But since we're here:

The principal difference between London superheroes and NYC/Metropolitan superheroes is that they have a different sense of history, being centered in a city founded because the Romans said, "Where do you get a pint around here?" while New Amsterdam was founded as a good place to sell wooden nutmegs. This results in the members --

The Wanker: Semiretired comic-relief hero required under EU regs. Often rushes into battle with a cry of "Carry on Heroing!" in the hope that someone will recall the joke.
Screaming Blue Noll: Tudor* woman of vaguely doubtful reputation who yells colourful if grammatically uncertain imprecations. Also, she is blue, due to a colorist's error that proved popular for some odd reason.
Uncle Richard: Represents the Jollie Olde Britannia that so many wish for.** Very popular superhero, gives kids rides on his back, kills members of the aristocracy. Famous for jumping into Tony Blair's bedroom one night and screaming "I am the Special Rendition!"
Verity Coupdegrace: Combines nostalgia for heroines like Modesty Blaise and Emma Peel with nostalgia for Jane Austen characters. More fanfic online than you have time to read.
The Economist: Obligatory Tory hero. Says things like "By Cecil Rhodes!" and "This is what comes of the Corn Laws!"***
The Wren****: Si potestae requiris, circumspice.

Since most of London's supervillains have relocated, leaving the city to lesser evils like The Sod, The Wanker,***** and Used to Be The Teddy Boy but Is Now Looking for Meaning, the London Avengers mostly worry about who is going to write their material (another difference between London and the US -- the long literary tradition). Many names are spoken, though few scripts arrive, and many younger heroes (see below) believe "Moore and Moorcock" to have been the The Ornamental Moors, legendary figures of a lost golden age. Others recall when apocalyptic destruction would visit the city with the regularity of television presenters looking for The England that Was in your bedroom wardrobe.

And of course, London has a group of angst-ridden teenage mutants, who are unsure if their powers will lead to lucrative licencing deals or just make them unemployable. They are known as the L-Men, because each is required to wear a prominently displayed L sticker on his or her costume.

*Or Restoration, or something old and rude of that sort.
**"Because they wouldn't have to be around now."
***Used to join combat shouting "My science is dismal!" but too many people agreed with him.
****Has a female counterpart, The Cutty Wren, but that's another thread.
*****A different one. It was a popular name in the Sixties, also among rock stars and Members of Parliament.

#559 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 08:56 PM:

Xopher --

The classic example of life imitating myth was the late-nineteenth century proof that Naoleon did not exist, since his life paralleled the path of a classical solar myth. (ObSF, the same sort of "proof" is used in Jurgen by the Master Philologist to show that Jurgen was a solar myth).

#560 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2005, 11:55 PM:

Sandy -

I donno about the rest of the folks, but I've never managed to commit poetry. Tried for years, but I doubt I'll ever be more'n a versifier.

#561 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 12:22 AM:

I just try to make my professors laugh.

#562 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 05:34 AM:

Mike: I think if you combine Emma Peel nostalgia with Jane Austen nostalgia you get "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", whose plot is basically

TEA
unrequited affection
complex social structure
MORE TEA
elegant dialogue
fantastic costumes
KICKING THE HELL OUT OF PEOPLE WIREFU STYLE
more tea

I like the idea of a superhero called 'The Economist' (though surely he's a Whig rather than a Tory?) Takes me back to the time when we decided that Dixit and Nalebuff, rather than simply being the authors of our game theory textbook, were also a classic Mismatched Maverick Cop Duo.
Game theory rather lends itself to made-for-TV thriller titles. Hence "Dixit & Nalebuff: The Prisoner's Dilemma", "Dixit & Nalebuff: The Shadow of the Future", "Dixit & Nalebuff: Hawks and Doves", and so on.

#563 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 08:41 AM:

Mike, you just reminded me that, next time I go to my usual comics shop, I have to ask them about John Cleese's True Brit. I understand that it is one of those what-if Superman stories, in this case what if Kal-El had landed in great Britain instead of Kansas. Kind of reminds me of that story (in John Varley's anthology Superheroes?) which asked what if Kal-El had landed in Brooklyn and been found by an old Jewish couple? I seem to remember that the little guy didn't take kindly to the rabbi trying to circumsize him and responded by frying him with his heat vision.

#564 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 08:42 AM:

Kleppner and Kolenkov, along the same lines, were obviously not just physicists but mad wizards. [and a double dactyl waiting to happen. As is "dinosaur sodomy." Dammit! ]

#565 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 09:26 AM:

Like this one?

Higgledy-piggledy
Dinosaur sodomy's
Welcomed by authors more
Often than not;

Not due to motives
Exogamophilous
But for its helpful
Effect on the plot.


And, while I'm at it:

"Particle-schmarticle!"
Kleppner to Kolenkov
Cried out in anger
Again and again;

"Don't be obsessed with
Submicrocosmology;
Just be a good minion and
BRING ME MORE BRAIN."

#566 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 09:26 AM:

I give up. I wrote a first line I can't live up to.

Numinous luminous
Venus of Botticel'
Rose from her half-a-shell
Shockingly bare.

Centuries later, we
Still call "indecency"
Women in public in
Naught but their hair.

#567 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 11:44 AM:

Bourgeois poetry, comrades? Have you forgotten that we are supposed to wage the war against Christmas?

#568 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 12:55 PM:

I'm doing my part:

I put a dozen pairs of socks, a toiletry set, and a pair of mittens in the "Toys for Tots" barrel here at work.

(What else is it that kids hate to get as gifts these days?)

#569 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 01:08 PM:

Stefan Jones: What else is it that kids hate to get as gifts these days?

Underwear, school supplies, educational software...

#570 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 01:08 PM:

Well Stefan, whenever I watch one of those Rankin-Bass TV specials where Santa's helpers are involved, I keep thinking how theirs toys look incredibly boring, even the ones found on the Island of Misfit Toys. So you might use that for ideas.

#571 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 01:39 PM:

John M. Ford:

I suppose the teenage mutants are therefore doomed to "languish locked in L?"

#572 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 01:48 PM:

You did say mutants and not metahumans? Then this must indeed be a Marvel setting.

#573 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 01:55 PM:

Janet McConnaughey writes:

My choice for worst-ever sound track (and composer) is the former Cat Stevens for The Last Unicorn. His style ain't noway fantasy nor medieval.

Don't blame him. IMDB says the songs are by Jimmy "I am a lineman for the county up up and away in my beautiful balloon by the time I get to Phoenix all the sweet green icing flowing down" Webb.

Apparently, some were performed by the actors, some were performed by America.

America? I'd forgotten that.

Guess the Horse had No Name, but it did have a horn...

And the book *has* songs. They shoulda used 'em.

Can't argue.

#574 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 02:46 PM:

I need some advice- my seventeen-year-old brother is a budding writer. I'm planning on getting him some writing books for Xmas, but I'm not sure what to get. Suggestions?

#575 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 02:54 PM:

LeeAnn: you could start with No Plot? No Problem!

Yes, I'm joking.

#576 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 03:03 PM:

your knowledge about Serapion, given that I had no idea that Thmuis or Serapion *existed,* much less any facts at all about them.

Sadly, it's what I do for a living. As for the monophysites, it's all complicated by the fact that the people who usually get labelled monophysites (Cyril of Alexandria and his mates) were actually totally orthodox miaphysites; while Arians were monophysites of a sort. Eutychus is the only church father I know of who actually seems to have believed the things he was accused of believing. There must be a double dactyl in all this somewhere.

#577 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 03:12 PM:

LeeAnn... Damon Knight once wrote a book on the subject. Unfortunately I read it years ago and can't remember the title. Maybe somebody else on the site still has that book.

#578 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 03:22 PM:

Sorrily Cyrilly
poor Alexandrians
wanted theology
just to make sense;

But since their leader was
anti-Nestorian
no-one said anything
in their defence.

Oh, and I've been meaning to post this for ages: fans of Belgian pop like myself have long been exposed to the concept of dinosaur sodomy.

#579 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 03:28 PM:

LeeAnn: If you can find a copy (it's long out of print), Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens: Suggestions and Starting Points for Young Creative Writers by Stephen Phillip Policoff and Jeffrey Skinner.

#580 ::: MLR ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 04:46 PM:

One book by Damon Knight on writing is Creating Short Fiction.

And now for something completely different. I just stumbled across the King Alfred Grammar on the web and thought others here might enjoy it.

#581 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 07:03 PM:

Bill -

I'd'a sworn I read articles before the movie came out about Cat Stevens doing the score. Nemmind. Whoever dunnit, I didn't like it.

I may, however, have to try to get myself
this audiobook of Beagle reading it, with (I think) his own songs set to music.

#582 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 09:35 PM:

candle (or anyone else who knows their monophysites from their miaphysites from their Arians without a scorecard) (and this seems like the time and the place to ask ...)

Does anyone know of a Brief History of Heresy?

I have trouble keeping all the schisms straight in my head. It seems like there should be a flow chart that shows the various splits in Christianity down the centuries. A Complete Idiot's Guide to Heresy, maybe. Anyone?

#583 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 10:07 PM:

Hmm, Bob, never thought of a flowchart. I have a perverse (especially for a wiccan) interest in Christian heresies. time to break out the books! (I've got a bunch already, and may hit the library one evening or so).

I'm watching a 1945 Henry V on TCM. Yummy. Good costumes. And Sir Lawrence.

#584 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 11:04 PM:

Xopher: Well, actually..."Magi" are astrologers. The "star" was likely the triple conjunction of Mars and Jupiter that occurred in 4 BCE; they certainly would have been able to calculate months in advance that it was going to occur, and taken the journey.

I recall from reading many years ago that Augustus ordered two censuses, in 6 and 2 BCE; my copy of Luke says the birth happened during the first, "when Quirinius was the governor of Syria." (Luke also gets specific about when Jesus went public.) Either story could be pure accretion. (When I saw the deplorable Willow, a friend kept count of the number of things-attributed-to-heroic-childhoods that happened -- it was a large score.) The same could even be said of the one piece of time-of-year information, that it happened when shepherds were watching over their flocks by night, which I've been told happens only during lambing season (~February in Palestine) because sheep aren't stupid enough to wander off at night for any other reason.

All of this is hardly surprising for far-after-the-fact material; my Holman Study Bible says "Most scholars hold that [Mark] is the earliest of the four Gospels. It can safely be dated between A.D. 50 and A.D. 70." Holman is (c) 1962 as a whole, with a New Testament (c) 1952; I expect there's someone here familiar with more recent conclusions -- any comments?

#585 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 11:12 PM:

Candle -

>There must be a double dactyl in all this somewhere.

Will this do?

Hear, I say, heresy.
Cyril and company,
labeled monophysites,
truly were not.

Arians were, though they
always claimed not to be.
Eutychus only
believed what They thought.

#586 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 11:23 PM:

It's not quite Heresy for Dummies. but this isn't bad.

#587 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 11:40 PM:

Speaking of peculiar critters, some 20 years ago I interviewed a guy who had just told a scientific assemblage in New Orleans that there's one which eats light.

The beasticle in question was the blue-green protozoan
Stentor coeruleus.

I've found a reference to an article which may or may not have been mine (UPI was much more active then, and wire service articles often are printed without signers), and a couple of other very brief mentions of both Stentor and photosynthesis, but no details of anything that's happened since in research with Stentor.

#588 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 11:46 PM:

Does anyone know of a Brief History of Heresy?

Judge: Anybody got a good reason we shouldn't just burn you people?
Ye people: Well, uh, there's . . .
Judge: Not you. Once more for form's sake: any reasons?
Fourth Assistant Paralegal: We haven't invented fire.
Judge: Why the Place We Do Not Mention On Penalty of Even Worse Stuff not?
Amicus Auto-da-Fe: Violated the Doctrine of Intelligent Lightning.
[Whereupon a bolt of probably totally mindless lightning strikes the court, incinerating all the officers except for the 4th A. Paralegal, who was always squishy on the Ginger Pudding is the Path to Damnation Doctrine.]
Fourth Assistant Paralegal and Acting Chief Justice: Uh, case dismissed. Anybody wanna go to my hut for ginger pudding? Hey, bring some fire. I'll bet it toasts up nice.

In other doctrinal disputations, Robin Lane Fox's The Unauthorized Version (which dates from 1993) suggests that there is a plausible case for John's Gospel actually being by John the Apostle (there being no such case for the synoptics, and a detailed discussion of the meaning of "authorship" in those days). As I recall (the book is hiding somewhere) Mark is still generally held to be the oldest of the three.

One of the many interesting things about the book (which I recommend to anyone interested in this sort of thing, though with any such book you're likely to find quarrels with it, and not just The Obvious One) is that Lane Fox's approach shifts in the New Testament; in the Old, he's mainly applying historical scholarship to matters of establishable fact, while the New is far more about doctrine than history, and needs to be read and analyzed more as literature -- not necessarily fiction, but definitely making use of the techniques of the creative writer as well as the essayist.

#589 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2005, 11:52 PM:

Thanks, that's one of my books. (on heresies, got it last Christmas....).

the other good one (though not for heresies) is a dictionary of gods and goddesses. Used for malfeasance in 2000, when a certain miscreant then living in my house (currently in Puerto Rico) went to a St. Louis convention and brought home a kitten that I had told the other two (but not HIM) we didn't need. His attitude - if Paula wants to, she can take it to kitty jail on Monday.

Cut to: boys (Jeff and Jim) want to name the kitten ( fluff muffin she still is, and very Dim) Satan. Margene and I swore we weren't hollering the word Satan in the yard or even in the house over a small, fluffly cat. Jim suggested "Bob." We both said that was a boy's name, and no thank you. I shoved the Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses into the guys' hands and said "Here, we'll accept any female name out of this."

they found Badb Catha, a sister to the Morrigan, because that it's close to Bob. (actually it's likely pronounced Bav....). Margene and I relented and Badb Catha it is, even in the Vet records. She answers to Bob.... a bit more than most as any cat answers to such.

#590 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 12:11 AM:

Paula -

The Man In My Life and I once went through much of the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology to name a kitten which had been brought to us by a friend who knew our senior cat had died. We finally settled on Phoebe, even though we weren't sure why it fit a black shorthair with mud-colored eyes.

When she grew up, her eyes turned gold.

She's on my lap now, some 16 or so years later.

#591 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 12:50 AM:

it happened when shepherds were watching over their flocks by night, which I've been told happens only during lambing season (~February in Palestine) because sheep aren't stupid enough to wander off at night for any other reason.

As an aside, sheep are pretty stupid, but the main problem is not them straying at night, but predators coming and offing them as they just stand there and baa at them helplessly.

Other than that, you have the sheep walking off stupidly, going behind a bush and not being able to find their way back to the flock, sheep walking off and into holes, sheep walking off and not being able to see the flock because it is behind them rather than in front of them... sheep are really stupid. Profoundly so.

Shepherds keep watch on sheep pretty much all the time they are out at pasture, if they want a reasonably low number of losses.

#592 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 01:15 AM:

" Badb Catha[...] (actually it's likely pronounced Bav....). "

I asked a friend once how to pronounce "Badb" and he pointed out that Madb is pronounced "Maeve" .

On the one hand, he's good at this sort of thing; on the other, that's a hell of a thing to ask a dyslexic.

#593 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 01:54 AM:

Sheep are pretty stupid - shepherds will keep close watch over them during lambing because sheep have a propensity for being really bad moms. First-time moms are the worst - they'll wander off and leave a newborn lamb without so much as missing a beat. It's sort of like "Ah, yes - much better, I can run faster and fit more food in now, thanks for asking, look at the time, I must be going." Even experienced ewes will walk away from a lamb for no apparent reason, but first-time mothers are definitely the twitchiest; some ewes never learn to become good mothers.

The damn things also have an uncanny ability to go into labor in the wee hours of the morning during the absolute worst weather. Some have speculated that this reduces the odds of predators snatching lambs; I see it as further proof of their abject stupidity.

Sheep make chickens look smart. (Of course, chickens make eggplants look smart, but that's a whole 'nother story...)

#594 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 02:00 AM:

Remembering that Christmas is not "Jesus' Birthday", but the day Christians (& sometimes others) celebrate the fact that he was born. I suspect these got confused from people taking the quick'n'easy way of explaining that to children ... or blurred from the old pagan ideas & traditions.

In Ye Olde Days, in Europe & nearby at least, many people didn't mark and celebrate actual dates of birth, but the special day of the saint who shared their name. (Someone mentioned that round here recently, can't spot where.) It's mentioned in The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, when they are celebrating St John's Day at midsummer [pauses to allow for comments on carrying on of pre-Christian customs], which is Hans Sach's name-day (from Johannes). I have a friend who was adopted quite a long time ago, and his adoptive family just picked a good day to make his birthday, rather than find out his actual one.

Re Sheep: this stupidity would apply to the domesticated versions, which, along with cattle & possibly other tamed beasts, have been bred for a certain lack of cunning. That nasty Darwinian selection would surely make such behaviour fairly rare amongst wild or feral varieties.

#595 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 03:28 AM:

It's midnight and I'm tired, and at home without most of my books, but off the top of my head the best book to explain Arianism is R.P.C. Hanson's "The Search For The Christian Doctrine of God". Despite the slightly unfriendly title it is pretty easy to read and as reliable as these things get. Oh, and the best book for the whole period is J.N.D. Kelly's "Early Christian Doctrines", which is where I usually go when I forget what a monophysite is.

On the web, the Catholic Encyclopedia is a genuinely useful source. There is an obvious bias (and it dates from 1917), but seeing as heresy by definition is an invention of Catholicism, it seems reasonable that they should be able to describe it properly. It gets a bit technical at times, though. But I like their continued insistence that Protestantism is a heresy (as of course it is, unless you happen to believe it).

If I think of anything easier I'll let you know. Unfortunately the tendency is more to write long books on heresy than short ones.

Lane Fox's "The Unauthorised Version" is also a very good book, as Mike says, although it's more of a set of ruminations on the Bible than a book on heresies per se. But Robin Lane Fox is usually good value, and his "Pagans and Christians" is a good book on the development of the early church.

I'm not a New Testament expert - well, not much of an expert on anything, really - but my impression was that there wasn't actually a census at any point which coincided with Quirinius (Cyrenius) being governor of Syria, which in turn can't be squared with Herod still being alive. This isn't to say that the whole thing is nonsense, but some of the historical details are a little unreliable...

Thanks for the double dactyl, Janet. I think I need to sleep now.

#596 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 05:21 AM:

I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned it (or maybe I just missed it) but 25 December is Mithras's birthday, chosen (at least this is the boring ol' practical version) because it's the day the big round warm thing decides that it'll come back after all, because you did nice things while it was cruising stars in Biarritz.

Mithras's Mom is a Sun deity, and he was also popular with shepherds, who gave him sheep as gifts, because dogs and badgers were smarter than that.

And of course lots of people celebrated Hey Look the Sun's Coming Back Day -- in Rome, the Consualia/Saturnalia/Opalia thing* --- and Mithraism was very popular with Romans, particularly the army, and the army was the core of almost all the colonies. So borrowing the holiday was in the best Roman tradition, of taking other people's stuff and putting a vaulted roof over it, and with the Empire wobbling** pretty badly, any measure might get a try.

*Technically, the Celebration of Emerging from the Vegetable Bin to Bring Plenty With a Sack O' Burpee's Finest.

**Before you decline and fall, you naturally wobble. Mr. Gibbon was rumored to be planning what we, with our osseal contempt for Latin, would call a "prequel," called The Initial Wobbling and Progressively More Unsteady Gait of the Roman Empire, but after hearing several ladies and gentlemen mutter "Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh?" and chortle behind their chortling-fans,*** he gave it up.

***A rather larger number referred to, you know, the other thing, and then gathered to snicker in one of London's fashionable new Snickering Galleries.

-- Hochbinder's Back-Pocket Guide to Appearing Gosh-Darn Learned

#597 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 07:13 AM:

"The other thing"?

#598 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 07:41 AM:

The Wikipedia entry on Mr. Gibbon is here; the relevant data is at the end of the "Life" section, so it is not confused with literary analysis. It's worksafe (well, it is a Wiki entry), especially if you work in an emergency room, which is where we would expect someone to, in the phrase, present with his condition. It's interesting that in the TalkWiki page on the subject, one person rather plaintively asks if there's a way of keeping the medical discussion from crowding out all others, to which one would be tempted to refer him to the Wiki entry on Sir Thomas Gresham.

#599 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 08:19 AM:

The deplorable Willow, CHip? How can you say such a thing about a monument of cinema that issued forth from the furrowed brow of Saint George the Lucas? Besides, it had Val Kilmer as swordsman Mad Martigan, which is definitely a case of truth in advertising. And it had those two French leprechauns.

#600 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 08:34 AM:

Ah, yes. I'd forgotten about that. Poor blighter.

#601 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 08:51 AM:

I like the name of your golden-eyed cat, Janet. Phoebe... I had one golden-eyed cat, but she was called Murphy, because of the movie Robocop AND because of one of Neil Gaiman's Sandman stories. We also had a very deranged cocker spaniel, Petruchio, from Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. We currently have one girl dog who, as a puppy, was found abandonned in the desert and so we called her Nahla, an Arabic name that means a drink of water. And let's not forget our other girl dog, another abandonned puppy who showed up in front of the neighbor's house one cold November night, and we named her Freya, from the Viking goddess of Love, who favorite mode of transportation apparently was a chariot pulled by cats. That might explain why Freya often chases after Jefferson, the bad cat, rescued as a kitten on the Fourth of July.

#602 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 08:52 AM:

Rumpity pumpity
Angry Tyrannosaur
Dinosaur sodomy
Ruined his day.

"It's not the discomfort- it's
Creationistically,
Looks like we went extinct
Cause we were gay."

I'm SURE I'll stop any day now.

#603 ::: Victor S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 09:01 AM:

Janet --

That audiobook sounds like a wonderful choice. Of course, I'd listen to Peter Beagle read the phone book, simply because he has a beautiful voice.

#604 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 10:55 AM:

Though this thread has already become insanely long, it seems like the best place for me to ask the experts: Where can I find a book with a detailed examination of the goddess Hekate as seen by the Greeks? Just found out Homer called her "tender" so she had multiple aspects, and I think I need someone like her for a long-delayed writing project I'm about to start up again. (Info on ancient forms, please; current Wiccan or Mother Goddess things are too recent.) Thanks to anyone who can help!

#605 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 10:59 AM:

Faren: this page about Hecate seems to include all the Classical references.

#606 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 12:06 PM:

Paula Helm Murray pointed out that yesterday was TCM's homage to Shakespeare. Tonight is their followup, 'alternative Shakespeare'. That means Kurosawa's Throne of Blood. And Kiss Me Kate where the two mobsters played by Keenan Wynn & James Whitmore steal the show. And, of course, Forbidden Planet. I wish they'd show Theatre of Blood, where Vincent Price plays a bad shakespearean actor who murders his critics using Bill's own plays for inspiration.

#607 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 12:58 PM:

I haven't caught up with all of this week's Making Light yet, so forgive me if this has already been mentioned...

Devotees of the Flying Spaghetti Monster can now crochet their own devotional headgear. As the website says:

"The Pope has a special hat. Rabbis have special hats. Rastafarians have special hats. Why not Pastafarians?"

#608 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 03:32 PM:

I only deal with ancient heresies, sadly, but on that score I forgot to mention Stuart G. Hall's "Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church". For early Christianity and the Bible, Bart Ehrman's "Lost Christianities" is fun.

As for medieval heresies, I haven't read them but this and this look like your best bets.

#609 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 05:14 PM:

Teresa, thank you for the DIY Necronomicon links. I used the instructions (but not the illustrastrated Necronomicon pages) to make blank books for my three-year-old and I to make a picture book. Our first book, Pyramid Truck by Harry James Connollies will be unreleased today; it's going into our memories folder.

Thanks very much.

#610 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 06:50 PM:

Faren, this may be slantwise to what you're looking for, but you might want to look up Paul Veyne's Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths? An essay on the Constitutive Imagination, (U. of Chicago, 1988) a short book/essay in which he discusses real and fictional belief in a time when what we (and Veyne) call "scientific thought" was pulling itself together but had not generally realized how badly it was going to piss the new, jealous, erotically frustrated gods off. He speaks generally (Hecate isn't in the index) but you might find it useful for tone. (Or not, 'cause tone is, like, what the cats do when they have departed Columbia for the West End and some cold ones.)

"Beholding their mythical age, the Greeks had two attitudes: a naiveté that wants to believe in order to be charmed, and the sober order of perpetual suspense that we call scientific hypothesis.* But they never rediscovered the tranquil assurance with which, once back in the truly historical period, they believed the words of their predecessors, the historians, whom they echo. They express the state of scientific doubt that they express before myth as well as they can by saying that the heroic era was too far away, too effaced by time, for them to discern its contours with complete certainty."

*It is because I am entirely aware that this order is often as sober as a Dorsai wake that I find this comparison so worthwhile.

#611 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 11:03 PM:

A bit upstream I asked for pointers to resources on the Christian heresies. Thanks, candle, Dan L-K, JMF, and to all who offered suggestions.

The more I think about it, the more I am thinking of a flowchart. Something along the lines of
IF SON = FATHER THEN (x)
IF SON ('less than' sign) FATHER THEN (y)

Too bad I lack both the theological knowledge and the programming skills to write one. (It seems like some of the heresies are reinvented a few times, and I'm not sure how to indicate that.)

#612 ::: dagny ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 11:17 PM:

In case your interest in DIY Lovecraftian artifacts reaches beyond the necronomicon, this site offers instructions for making other interesting curios, like alien statues, bottled deep ones, and mythos tomes.

#613 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 11:43 PM:

Dagny, cool site, but why oh why do people have to use slender fonts on black backgrounds?

#614 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2005, 12:03 AM:

Harry - second the motion about skinny-on-black. I find it often helps to hit control-A, which usually gives me blue-on-white.

#615 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2005, 01:42 AM:

The more I think about it, the more I am thinking of a flowchart. Something along the lines of
IF SON = FATHER THEN (x)
IF SON ('less than' sign) FATHER THEN (y)

Hmm, I'm very tempted to have a go at this. (Luckily I am not going to have the time.) It's basically a 'What kind of heretic are *you*?' quiz, isn't it. You might like the analogous quiz[zes] at beliefnet

Actually the best checklist of heresies is to learn by heart the Catholic Creed, which is almost wholly devoted to denying them.

"We believe one God, the Father, the Almighty"
[we aren't pagans, or gnostics]
"the maker of heaven and earth"
[not Neoplatonists, who thought the world didn't need creating]
"of all that is seen and unseen."
[not Manichaeans, who thought the visible stuff was created by a lesser deity]
"We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ"
[Gnostics, deists, Jews, etc.]
"the only son of God"
[not sure about this one, but probably Gnostics again]
"eternally begotten of the Father"
[Sabellians - who thought Christ was just the alias God used when he came down to earth at the Incarnation]
"God from God, light from light, true God from true God"
[various monophysites and miaphysites, including Eutychus]
"begotten, not made"
[Arians]
"of one being with the father"
[Arians again, and (confusingly) monophysites]

And so on. Most of them focus on Christology, of course, since that's the really difficult bit. But there were a few skirmishes over the wholly spirit. ("who proceeds from the father and the son" - so how does that work exactly?)

My basic rule of thumb: if you think there is no distinction between God and Christ, then you are a Sabellian. If you think there *is* a distinction between God and Christ, then you are an Arian or a monophysite. If you are careful not to say anything on the matter either way, you can pass pretty easily for a Catholic.

#616 ::: Joan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Hello fellow munchkins, lets all have fun with our pea eating contest. Yum yum with honey!!!

#617 ::: Joan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Hello fellow munchkins, lets all have fun with our pea eating contest. Yum yum with honey!!!

#619 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Weird. I don't see the spam value. It's a reference to the classic rhyme, but the point of spamming in this fashion escapes me.

#620 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2010, 07:15 PM:

@471: Wow. Thread necromancy.

From a discussion on high heels and plantigrade vs. digitigrade humans, I searched and Google Books provides:

Grumpily, lumpily
Ursus Horribilis
Stomps through the woods on his
plantigrade feet.

Haunched rather hugely; tailed
Rudimentarily
Both breath and temper are
Not very sweet.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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