feeling the burn

Okay, I admit it. I’m feeling a tad burned out. What with the trip for the conference, the conference itself, the prep for the conference, the hard drive failure, and the various illnesses of the past couple of weeks, I feel like I’m due for a break. But sadly, I’ve got to get cranking on the next poster for the conference in Brazil, which is now (most startlingly) less than 3 weeks away.

And not that you wanted to know this, but I am now plagued by heartburn. I had this problem when I was pregnant before, especially as I got huge. I thought things might be better this time around, but either the timing was coincidental, or the stomach bug I got pushed me out of the comfort zone, and into the fire.

Hello zantac, my old friend,
I’ve come to look to you again,
Because the acids softly creeping,
Left my stomach while I was sleeping,
And the fire that was planted in my throat
Really blows
Giving the burn of reflux.

Anyhow, I owe a ThThTh list, but I’m not feeling sufficiently fired up to do a thorough job. But here are a burning bits to toast your marshmallows. (Please feel free to fuel the fire, too.)

  • Phoenix, a mythical bird who burns and is reborn out of the ashes
  • Quest for Fire, a 1981 movie base on a 1911 French novel. About prehistoric people. Who, um, want fire or something like that.
  • Out of the the frying pan and into the fire, an idiom meaning “leave a bad situation for a worse one.”
  • Firestarter. A 1984 movie starrying Drew Barrymore as a pyrokinetic kid. Based on a Stephen King novel.
  • The Human Torch, a comic book character. Who gets all fiery.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion. I don’t really have anything to say here. Poof.
  • Flame war or flaming: “the hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users”
  • And here, how about a whole bunch of songs I like with a fiery theme.
      Burning down the house, Talking Heads
      Beds are Burning, Midnight Oil
      Fire on Babylon, Sinead O’Connor
      London’s Burning, The Clash
      Firestarter, Prodigy
      Light My Fire, The Doors
      Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash (also Social Distortion)
      Who by Fire, Leonard Cohen
      Dig for Fire, Pixies
      It’s a Fire, Portishead
      Into the Fire, Sarah MacLachlan
      Keeper of the Flame, Nina Simone

make like a tree

I’m quite fond of trees. You might even say that I identify with them. To celebrate their arborial grandness, and to follow up on the squirreliness of last week’s list, I bring you a Themed Thing list of Trees.

  • The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. This beloved book features Truffula trees, and is a parable (?) about the impact of excessive deforestation, industrialization and consumerism. The Lorax is a little creature who voices the warnings. “I speak for the trees.”
  • The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein. A book about a boy, who takes serious advantage of a generous tree. The tree gives, and the boy/man takes and takes. And takes. Till all that’s left of the tree is a stump. And this is supposed to be a moving tale of generosity. An environmentalist friend of mine from college once said of it, “I think it’s misguided.”
  • the_lorax.jpgthe_giving_tree.jpg

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a coming of age novel by Betty Smith.
  • The Tree of Man, a novel by Australian Author (and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature), Patrick White.
  • tree-hugger: A term used to refer to environmentalists, especially those who look to protect forests. Sometimes used pejoratively, but embraced by others.
  • Arbor Day A holiday for planting and caring for trees. And maybe for hugging them. In the US, it’s celebrated in April. (The next one is April 25th, 2008. Only 168 shopping days left.)
  • Christmas Tree A possibly Pagan-derived holiday tradition of decorating a tree with ornaments and lights and such. Usually a pine tree.
  • lost_pants_tree.jpg

  • syntactic trees (tree structures) Diagrams representing hierarchical structure are often described as trees. People studying syntax spend a fair amount of time drawing tree diagrams of sentences.
  • family tree The tree is used as a metaphor to describe relationships within a family, especially when drawing a diagram of relatedness.
  • Trees are prominent in mythologies and foklore from many cultures, including many variations on a mystic Tree of Life.
  • family_tree.jpg yggdrasil.jpg dryad11.jpg
    A German woodcut of a family tree, the Yggdrasil, and The Dryad by Evelyn De Morgan

  • Dryads, tree nymphs (or wood nymphs) from Greek mythology. They are among the magical creatures to be found in the Chronicals of Narnia. See also “The Dryad”, a story be Hans Christian Anderson
  • In Greek Mythology, Daphne is turned into a laurel tree while trying to escape the clutches of an amourous Apollo.
  • The Ents, from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien. Big tree people.
  • “Shaking the Tree”, an album by Peter Gabriel. Also a song with Youssou N’dour. [YouTube]
  • “barking up the wrong tree” An idiom alluding to a dog chasing a cat up a tree, but mistaking the location of said cat. It means “acting based on some mistaken impression”
  • “can’t see the forest for the trees”An expression to describe when someone is too caught up in the details to understand the larger context.
  • Then there’s the playground chant:

    X & Y sitting in a tree
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G

  • along came some spiders

    spiderweb1.pngHalloween’s around the corner. One thing this means is that people break out the creepy crawly decorations to get festively creepy. It’s harder to get much creepier or crawlier than spiders. So I offer you a whole mess of festively creepy crawly eight-legged critters for this week’s Themed Things Thursday. Enjoy. (Or shield your eyes, depending on your feelings towards spiders.)

    A Few Spiders

    1. Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White. A novel featuring a very smart spider who could weave a remarkable web. One of my favorite books of childhood.
    2. Little Miss Muffet
      A nursery rhyme about a little girl who was frightened off her tuffet by a spider.
    3. black_widow.png       black_widow.png       black_widow.png                 black_widow.png

    4. “The Spider and the Fly”, a poem by Mary Howitt. A poem best known for a first line that doesn’t actually appear in the poem: “Step into my parlour, said the spider to the fly”. Here’s how the text actually begins. (You can read the full text here.)

      Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
      ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
      The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
      And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
      Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
      For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

    5. Seven Spiders Spinning, a kid’s novel by Gregory Maguire, an author best known for writing Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.
    6. Anansi: A spider who is a trickster character in many West African folktales.
    7. peter_sm4_8001.jpg

    8. Spider-Man. (Or Spiderman.) The superhero of comics, cartoons, and the more recent live action movies. A man was bitten by a spider and got spider-themed superpowers. Such as a spider sense. Which tingled. (When I’ve been bitten by a spider I’ve gotten a red welt. I guess you could say it tingled. But I wouldn’t.)
    9. Spider-Man,” the song. The theme song from a cartoon version of Spider-Man. Since performed by a variety of artists, including Moxy Fruvous and the Ramones.

      Spiderman, Spiderman,
      Does whatever a spider can
      Spins a web, any size,
      Catches thieves just like flies
      Look Out!
      Here comes the Spiderman.

    10. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” A children’s folk song. About a small spider, itsy bitsy even, who went up a spout. Then down, then back up.
    11. Spiders,” a song by Joydrop

      When love was fresh like a web we’d mesh
      Nothing felt better than your flesh against my flesh
      One fatal slip one rip a tear
      Touch me now and every single hair on my body stands on end
      So don’t touch me anymore
      ‘Cause it feels like spiders
      Like spiders all over me
      Like spiders
      Like spiders all over me

    12. It: a book by Steven King and miniseries based on the same. Involves a big evil spider. (And a clown.)
    13. spider_1.png

    14. Shelob: A giant, nasty spider from the Lord of the Rings
    15. Aragog: A giant, nasty spider from the Harry Potter books and movies
    16. Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
      A TV movie with William Shatner, about evil, venemous spiders that infest a town.
    17. Arachnophobia (1990)
      A movie about evil, venemous spiders that infest a town.
    18. A few other random spiders include: spider(a type of pan, basically a frying pan with legs), web spider, Alfa Romeo Spider, Spider (2002), and spider veins.

    pigeon post

    On our recent trip, we saw many exciting things in France and Germany: monuments, museums, landscapes, rivers, you name it. For Phoebe, however, the highlight of the trip was getting to see so many pigeons. She saw pigeons all over the place! (See her chase a pigeon in the short, short movie I posted earlier this week.)

    Loved by some, hated by many, pigeons are a ubiquitous in cities the world all over. Some folks have been known to call them “rats with wings,” while others happily share their breadcrumbs with them. After its trip away, Themed Things Thursday flies home this week with a list of pigeons.

    • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems. A picturebook about a mischievous pigeon who would like to drive a bus. (There’s a sequel, too, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, in which the pigeon, and I hope I’m not giving too much away here, finds a hot dog.)
    • Wringer, by Jerry Spinelli. This Newbury Honor book is about a forbidden boy-pigeon friendship in a town that hosts an annual pigeon shoot.
    • pigeon_messengers_engraving.jpg

    • Ewan McGregor’s character in Little Voice (1998) kept pigeons as pets.
    • Valiant (2005) was a movie about a heroic World War II homing pigeon (voiced by Ewan McGregor…am I sensing a pattern here?).
    • Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, by Tom Lehrer. A song:

      When they see us coming,
      the birdies all try and hide
      but they still go for peanuts
      when coated with cyanide

    • Rapper Pigeon John is not really a pigeon, at least as far as I know.
    • Some may remember Sesame Street’s Bert dancing a pigeon-like dance to “doin’ the pigeon,” a clip of which is available on YouTube. (You can also see actual pigeons dancing, if you want to compare.)
    • There was an 80’s kids’ TV show called Pigeon Street. (The intro is also up on YouTube.)
    • dove.jpg

    • In spite of their bad reputation as a species, certain pigeons have received an especially elevated status for birds. Namely, bird of peace. In this context, the pigeon is referred to as a dove. A dove being a white pigeon.
    • Doves are featured in various myths and religious tales, such as the well-known story of Noah’s Ark. Land was found with the help of a dove, who flew back to the ark with an olive branch.
    • There is also a flock of pigeon-oriented idioms and terms such as:
      pigeon hole, stool pigeon, pigeon-toed, pigeon-chested, setting the cat among the pigeons, and pigeon blood ruby.
    • Brian Pigeon: There is even a blog out there written by a London pigeon. Check it out for a pigeon’s eye view of the world.

    pigeons_row.jpg
    Pigeons at Beaubourg.

    seeing red

    It’s Thursday once more. Which means it’s time for some Themed Things. This week’s Thursday theme is red folks, to follow up on those blue folks. Red-furred, red-skinned, red-shelled, or red cardboard, this post is red all over.

    1. The Devil. The big bad red dude. Frequently portrayed pitch fork-wielding, with pointy horns, and a long pointy tail. And also very red.

      devil_pd.jpg cute_devil.png

    2. Hellboy (2004) A movie starring Ron Perlman about a big, strong guy. Red. Looks like a demon but files down his horns. Based on a comic book character.
    3. hellboy.jpg     frylock.jpg zoidberg.jpg

    4. Frylock, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The guy, or technically, the animate red-faced box of fries, with the brains and know-how.
    5. Dr. Zoidberg. The lobster-like alien doctor (from the planet Decapod 10) on Futurama. Fun to quote (note that Fry is a human male):

      Dr. Zoidberg: Now open your mouth and lets have a look at that brain.
      Dr. Zoidberg: No, no, not that mouth.
      Fry: I only have one.
      Dr. Zoidberg: Really?
      Fry: Uh… is there a human doctor around?
      Dr. Zoidberg: Young lady, I am an expert on humans. Now pick a mouth, open it and say “brglgrglgrrr”!

    6. Clifford, the Big Red Dog. A dog. Who is both big and red. A favorite book character from my childhood. Now a franchise with oodles and oodles of Clifford books and merchandise. And a TV show, apparently.
    7. bk_clifford_deluxe.jpg elmo.jpgwilt.png

    8. Wilt, from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Tall, skinny, and red.
    9. Elmo. The fuzzy annoyingly squeaky-voiced Sesame Street character. (Here’s an Elmo link to click at your own risk.)
    10. a_akadouji-kasuga-shrine-1488ad.jpg

    11. akadouji

      Literally “Red Youth.” Also often called Kasuga Akadouji 春日赤童子. A mysterious human figure said to have appeared on a rock immediately in front of the Kasuga 春日 Shrine gate. He often is shown as a youth (Jp. = douji), colored red (Jp = aka), standing on a rock, and leaning on a staff.

    12. redlionjacket.gif

    13. The Red Lion: A Persian folktale and book based on the same by Diane Wolkstein. About a prince who must learn to face his fears and fight a lion. Who is red. (The flag of Iran used to have a red lion on it, too.)

    So them’s the red folks. Want more color than just red? Feast your eyes on the latest Carnival of Colors.