I yam what I yam

It’s time for another helping of Themed Things Thursdays. It being vegetable week here, in honor of my first pick-up of my CSA veggies, this Thursday Theme for Things is vegetables. Okay, the list is a bit heavy on the onion bits (with apologies to those who don’t like onions), but you can pick them out.

some vegetables

  • beans
    Jack and the beanstalk, a fairy tale featuring magic beans that grow a towering beanstalk.
  • corn
    Children of the Corn (1984) A movie based on a Stephen King story. Horror in the corn fields.
  • spinach
    The cartoon character Popeye (The Sailor Man) gets super-duper strong when he eats a can of spinach. Even has a little song he sings when he gets all juiced up: I’m strong to the finish, ’cause I eats me spinach…
  • broccoli
    Powerpuff Girls episode 17 “Beat Your Greens“. Alien broccoli attacks.
  • cabbage
    The Kids in the Hall offers Cabbage Head, a man with cabbage for hair. (There are also the Cabbage Patch Kids, scrunched-up looking dolls that were all the rage in the 80’s, and that now have their own urban legend.)
  • pumpkin
    Peter Peter pumkin eater. A nursery rhyme. Also a song you can play on the piano using only the black keys.

    Peter Peter pumpkin eater
    Had a wife and couldn’t keep her
    He put her in a pumpkin shell
    And there he kept her very well

  • peppers
    Peter Piper A nursery rhyme and tongue twister: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”
  • carrots
    Bugs Bunny is known for his trademark carrot-munching. But did you know that his carrot-munching was a Clark Gable immitation?


    Bugs Bunny’s nonchalant carrot-chewing stance, as explained many years later by Chuck Jones, and again by Friz Freleng, comes from the movie, It Happened One Night, from a scene where the Clark Gable character is leaning against a fence eating carrots more quickly than he is swallowing, giving instructions with his mouth full to the Claudette Colbert character, during the hitch-hiking sequence.

  • potato
    Everybody’s favorite spud has got to be the ever-dignified, interchangeably featured Mr. Potatohead (Apparently, there are many new Potatohead varieties that have sprouted, including the venerable Star Wars Darth Tater
  • sweet potato
    “Sweet Potato,” by Cracker. (Off the album “Kerosene Hat”) A rockin’ romp of a song. Be my sweet potato, I’ll be your honey lamb

  • yams
    Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. Yams play a central role in the Nigerian community depicted in this novel. (See? I can get all literary, too.) (By the way, these yams aren’t the same as sweet potatoes, which are often called yams in the US)
  • turnip
    You can’t get blood from a turnip, or “You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip” (You can also find more garden-variety cliches) An expression meaning that it’s not possible to extract something from a source that doesn’t contain that thing.
  • onion
    1. The Onion (“America’s finest news source”) My own favorite Onion article? This eerily prescient one from January, 2001.
    2. Shrek (2001) An animated movie featuring an ogre who likens himself to an onion:

      Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
      Donkey: They both smell?
      Shrek: NO! They have LAYERS. There’s more to us underneath. So, ogres are like onions.
      Donkey: Yeah, but nobody LIKES onions!

    3. The End: Book the Thirteenth, the final installation of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket begins with the following layery, teary-eyed, oniony sentence:

      If you have ever peeled an onion, then you know that the first thin, papery layer reveals another thin, papery layer, and that layer reveals another, and another, and before you know it you have hundreds of layers all over the kitchen table and thousands of tears in your eyes, sorry that you ever started peeling in the first place and wishing that you had left the onion alone to wither away on the shelf of the pantry while you went on with your life, even if that meant never again enjoying the complicated and overwhelming taste of this strange and bitter vegetable.

  • bok choi
    Bok Choi Boy, the story of a young lad raised by vegetables to become a legendary leafy-green fighter for truth, justice and better nutrition. (Okay, I made this one up.)
  • a whole bunch o’ different oversized veggies
    June 29, 1999 written and illustrated by Caldecott award-winnder David Wiesner. A picturebook featuring gigantic vegetables raining down from the skies. A beatifully illustrated, beautifully absurd book:

    Cucumbers circle Kalamazoo. Lima beans loom over Levittown. Artichokes advance on Anchorage.

    Check out some of the illustrations on the publisher’s webpage for the book.

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    4 thoughts on “I yam what I yam

    1. Your tag for Themed Things Thursdays (ThThTh) reminds me of a sketch on… Big Train (I think it was), a very absurdist, Monty-Pythonesque, British sketch show from the 90s.

      One particular sketch was the Spanish (possibly South American) news show, which would begin with greetings of:

      Presenter 1: Boutros Boutros-Ghali
      Presenter 2: Boutros Boutros-Ghali,

      The bit that your tag reminds me of, was a news report from one of these presenters, recounted entirely in ‘The’ (θə):

      Presenter 1: Thethethe, thethethe thethe, thethe. Thethethethethe, thethe.

      Oh, and how very creepy:

      During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

      And that was in January 2001! The Onion must be in cahoots with bin Laden!

    2. That article WAS creepy. And you had me going with the Bok Choi Boy for a second there…

      Ever seen/heard the Veggie Tales (Christian kids television show with some brilliant moments – especially Silly Songs with Larry)?

    3. Jangari-
      Haven’t heard of “Big Train,” though it does sound like something I’d like: British, absurdist, pythonesque…. And yeah, could you believe that Onion article? If I hadn’t read it back when it was first published, I’d think the date was a fake. It’s just too close to reality.

      Yes, extreme creepiness. As for Bok Choi Boy, perhaps I’ll write his story.
      I’ve heard of the Veggie Tales, but never seen them. I tend to stick to the secular silliness…

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