I’m quite fond of this serving bowl. It’s got this cool variegated blue glaze, with swirls of grays and blues with bits of browns and whites. (I’m sure that someone with more knowledge of pottery could tell me what it’s called.) It has a nice shape, and it’s a great size for mixing up a salad or whatnot, or serving chips at a party. It’s also dishwasher safe, which means that I don’t avoid using it. It’s beautiful and sturdy, an object that gracefully nods towards both form and function.
A woman I worked with gave it to me at a going away gathering when I left my job as assistant manager of a bookstore, before starting grad school, which was now 9 years ago. I think the occasion for the gift-giving was my civil service wedding, which was a couple of weeks or so before. It was a totally unexpected gift, as the coworker and I were more friendly acquaintances than friends. I haven’t seen her since then, but her gift became one of my favorite household items.
That bowl has become a sort of gold standard for me for gifts: an item that is both useful and aesthetically pleasing.
With Chinese New Year having brought us into the Year of the Ox, it seems a good time to bring on the bovines.
Seeing as oxen aren’t all that plentiful in the universe of things in my head, Babe aside¹, I’ve decide to round up some more plentiful bovines instead. This ThThTh brings you cows².
A herd of cow things
Cows are used in the branding of several companies, such as Ben & Jerry’s (ice cream, which is a dairy product), La Vache Qui Rit/Lauging Cow cheese (more dairy products), A black and white cowhide pattern is also used for Gateway Computers, which are computers made entirely out of cheese. Or are they made out of beef?
cow pie: Not anlagous to a chicken pie, this is not a beef-filled pastry.
cowlick: a section of hair that grows in the wrong direction, sticking out as if licked by a cow.
Vachement: a French slang adverb. Vache being the word for cow, and -ment being an adverbial suffix along the lines of -ly, vachement could be translated as “cowly.”
Cow Parade: a large scale art project/event in which life-sized plastic cow models are painted and/or decorated as works of art and put on display. First seen in Chicago, and later in other cities around the world.
Mrs. O’Leary’s cow: the cow blamed for starting the Great Chicago Fire by kicking over a lantern. She has since been cleared of the arson charges, as she didn’t really exist.
Don’t have a cow, man.An expression meaning “don’t get upset.” A catchphrase used by Bart on The Simpsons.
How now, brown cow? A saying used to practice the diphthong [aʊ], which is contained in each of the words.
“I never saw a purple cow.”: a children’s rhyme.
I never saw a purple cow.
I never hope to see one.
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.
till the cows come home: an idiom meaning “all day long” or “for a long time.” I could list cows till the cows come home.
¹ The blue ox, not the pig.
²I’ll spare you the bull, or at least the bulls, for now.
ship’s log: a weighted piece of wood once used to measure the speed of a ship. It was attached to a rope with knots tied at set intervals, and tossed overboard:
It was tossed overboard attached to a line having knots in it at known distances. The number of knots played out, correlated with a reading from a special sandglass, called a log glass, gave the ship’s speed. The term knot, meaning one nautical mile per hour, comes from the knots in the log line.
ship’s log: a shortening of “ship’s logbook,” a journal where the ship’s speed and other events were, um, logged.
weblog, or “blog”: a website where short articles are published in reverse chronological order. A quaint custom of the early 2000s. Typically used to share in-depth political analyses, complain about in-laws or share horror stories of ingrown toenails.
logjam: a blockage caused by logs clogging a waterway. Also used metaphorically to mean a clog or blockage. As in “I can’t get any work done due to this logjam of blog posts in my feed reader.”
It’s that time of year again. You know, when the goose is getting fat. And you know what? So is my goose list for this fine Themed Things Thursday. But I’m in a bit of a rush, so I’ve gotten a bit loose in my descriptions.
A flock of geese things
one’s goose is cooked: an expression meaning that one is in trouble. Eg. “She knew her goose was cooked when she saw the flock of angry geese heading her way”
a wild goose chase: an expression for a fruitless venture, usually involving a lot of wasted energy. And sometimes flying feathers.
a goose walked over my grave: an expression meaning “got a sudden chill”
goose bumps: bumps that a appear temporarily on the skin when a person is cold. Perhaps because the skin looks a bit like that of a plucked goose.
what’s good for the goose is good for the gander: an expression meaning that both male and female should be plucked. Or otherwise get equal treatment.
take a gander at: an expression meaning “have a look.” As in “Take a gander at those soldiers doing the goose step.”
• An effete British superhero, to be precise. I am pilfering your tableware because I hurl it. I hurl it with a deadly accuracy. The Blue Raja is my name. And yes, I know I don’t wear much blue and I speak in a British accent, but if you know your history it really does make perfect sense…The point is: Your boy’s a Limey fork-flinger, Mother.
• I say, what the fork! Let’s do it!
• May the forks be with us.
So there’s my list. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
If you’re looking for more tasty bits to gobble up once your t(of)urkey is gone, go stick your fork into the 107th Carnival of Satire over at The Skwib. A spoonful of satire makes the holiday angst go down! (Especially when taken with a Wild Turkey chaser.)
it’s your nickel: an expression meaning “you made the phone call” and also “it’s your turn to talk.” My grandmother used to say this when I’d call her long-distance.
nickel and dime: an expression meaning “cheap” or “inconsequential.”
Nickel and Dimed: a book by Barbara Ehrenreich about her experiences working at various low-wage jobs.
dime store: a somewhat archaic term for a store carrying various and sundry low-price items.
dime bag: the quantity of marijuana that can be purchased for 10 dollars.
“Dime,” a song by Cake. About a dime. Really.
“shave and a haircut two bits:” a very short song. Two bits is a quarter, or 25 cents. (Apparently small change was once cut wedges of a silver dollar, each worth an 8th of a dollar.)
Pac-Man Fever, a song from the 80s (duh) beginning with the line:
“I got a pocket full of quarters and I’m heading to the arcade.” (Oh, the nostalgia triggered by bad 80s music and references to arcade video games. If you want to subject yourself, you can hear the song on YouTube.)
Damn. It’s now less than an hour before Thursday’s over, and I haven’t put up my Themed Things list. I always think I’ll find more time…
Anyhow, my lost keys of yesterday (which have now been found, by the way) had me digging around in my mind to find various key-related things. Here are some keys I found in the cluttered piles of my head.
A few key things
key. An item used to unlock something. Traditionally a metal object which fits a lock, but extended to refer to other things that give some sort of access, such as cards, passwords and codes.
the key to X: an idiom meaning “the means to achieve X, or gain access to X.” (eg. the key to success, the key to happiness, the key to my heart, the key to my pants…)
key. an adjective meaning crucial or primary. As in “the key participants” or “getting sleep is key.”
Dawn, the character introduced in Buffy, season 6.
Zero Effect (1998). A movie where a detective is hired to find a set of lost keys.
the key to the city. An award that is “presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others the city wishes to honor,” typically in the form of an ornamental key. At least in TV and movies.
keys. The things you push on a typewriter or, um, keyboard. Or piano.
key. a musical term about the tonality of a composition such as “in a minor key”
“Musical Key.” A song by the Cowboy Junkies.
movie/TV cliches featuring keys: I feel like I’ve seen tons of movies and or TV episodes where a character is in a jail cell, and tries to escape by means of reaching keys either left unattended (eg. Harold & Kumar) or held by a dog (eg. the first Pirates of the Caribbean). The spy/heist genre also frequently features the need to sneak a key away from a character who keeps a key on their body. (eg. in Danny Kaye’s Court Jester, or apparently in the second Pirates of the Caribbean) If you can think of examples of these, please share. My brain couldn’t dig up more.
Then there’s the scene from The Princess Bride where Wesley, Inigo and Fezzig storm the castle and confront the gatekeeper:
“Give us the gate key.”
“I have no gate key.”
“Fezzig, tear his arms off.”
“Oh, you mean this gate key.”
It’s fall now up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the squirrels are busy squirreling away their nuts for the winter. Meanwhile, I’ve been eating a lot of nuts, and going a little nuts. And reading about nuts¹. It’s almost as if nuts have been falling out of the trees and bonking me on the head². So, grab your nutcracker³, because I’ve gathered up a few nuts to share with you for this week’s list o’ Things.
a selection of mixed nuts
nuts. (adj.) An expression meaning “crazy.” As in “you are totally nuts.” There are also other nut-themed variations, such as the additional adjectives nutty and nutso, and nouns like nutjob and nutcase.
Nuts (1987) A movie starring Richard Dreyfuss and Barbra Streisand.
The Nutshell Library: A box set collection of miniature books by Maurice Sendak. Not about technical topics.
“Death in a Nut“: A folktale (in various versions) about a boy who tries to save his mother from death by stuffing Death into a nut shell.
“Thumbelina“: a fairytale about a tiny girl. She had a cradle made of a walnut shell.
Kate Crackernuts: an English fairytale about a girl who frees her stepsister from a curse that hides her beauty. The nuts are somewhat peripheral to the story. Kate collects them while going about her tasks and eats them for breakfast.
Nutcracker: a device used to access nuts that are encased in a hard shell. Decorative ones sometimes are made to look like people.
Harlan Pepper, played by Christopher Guest in Best in Show, likes to name nuts:
I used to be able to name every nut that there was. And it used to drive my mother crazy, because she used to say, “Harlan Pepper, if you don’t stop naming nuts,” and the joke was that we lived in Pine Nut, and I think that’s what put it in my mind at that point. So she would hear me in the other room, and she’d just start yelling. I’d say, “Peanut. Hazelnut. Cashew nut. Macadamia nut.” That was the one that would send her into going crazy. She’d say, “Would you stop naming nuts!” And Hubert used to be able to make the sound, he couldn’t talk, but he’d go “rrrawr rrawr” and that sounded like Macadamia nut. Pine nut, which is a nut, but it’s also the name of a town. Pistachio nut. Red pistachio nut. Natural, all natural white pistachio nut.
¹ Two of my favorite bloggers coincidentally (or perhaps both sparked by the start of school) wrote about how they are dealing with nut restrictions in their schools. Emily wrote Nutty, and Denguy wrote Aw, Nuts, two thoughtful posts that raise awareness about nut allergies. (I’d like to add that neither of them has a child with a nut allergy, and in fact have kids who love peanut butter. But they are both concerned and considerate.)
² That happened to me once with a chestnut. It hurt.
³ …or your epipen…
Thumbelina image from Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales (Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, ND).
This year, I prepare for the occasion with a list. Barely making it under the wire for this Thursday (at least in my time zone) is this pirate-themed ThThTh list. (This list be just a smattering of things piratical o’ me own choosin’. If ye be craving more, ye scurvy dogs, ye may want to drink o’ the grog offered by the scalliwags o’er at the official Talk Like a Pirate Day website. )
Yo, ho, ho.
Get yerself a pirate name with this quiz. (Oddly, me own name has changed since last year, when I were Black Anne Cash.)
My pirate name is:
Black Anne Bonney
Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate’s life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!
The Pirates of Penzance. A comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. A young man be apprenticed to pirates until his 21st birthday. (Which seeing as he was born on February 29th, won’t happen till he’s in his 80s.)
“Pirate Jenny“. A song from the Threepenny Opera. I know the version by Nina Simone, which I didn’t find on YouTube. I did find (among others) a Dresden Dolls version of what may be the original German version of the song. (I can’t get the sound on YouTube right now, so I can’t tell…)
Cutthroat Island (1995). Geena Davis plays a pirate. She kicks ass, in spite of the general suckiness of the movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean. A Disneyland ride. Also some movies.
The Dread Pirate Roberts. A character from The Princess Bride (book and movie). A pirate whose identity is used serially by various individuals.
If ye want to get your swashes well buckled, loads more pirate movies can be found on a pretty comprehensive list by a pirate fan.
MythBusters Episode 71: “Pirate Special”. Various pirate-related myths are tested, including the efficacy of rum as a laundry detergent and the use of an eye patch to preserve night vision. (Find the results here, if ye dare.)