With the excitement building for the new episodes of Dr. Who to start¹, there has been a lot of who-buzz. But Dr. Who is not the only Who who is out there. I offer you this list of whos: a sort of Who’s Who of Whos.
who: an English interrogative word a relative pronoun used to stand in for a person².
whodunnit: a nickname for a type of story where the reader (or viewer) tries to solve a mystery along with the protagonists
“Guess who?” Something sometimes said by a person sneaking up behind another person, often while preventing that person from seeing by covering the eyes.³
The Guess Who: a Canadian rock band best known in the 60s and 70s
Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?: A 1967 drama/comedy movie starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn. (It’s not actually about dinner with a Canadian rock band, but about a family coming to terms with an interracial relationship.)
With canine-cuddliness levels at an all-time high and adorability-boosting ribbons and chew toys plentiful at pet stores across the nation, no resolution to the good-boy-identity issue appears to be on the horizon.
“Who cares?” A question sometimes asked by someone who doesn’t⁴
Who’s got more whos?
¹Season 7, part 2 starts this Sunday, March 30th
² Prescriptive grammarians will say that who is only to be used in cases where the pronoun/interrogative is in the subject, or nominal, position, and that whom is what you must use in object positions. However, contemporary usage allows for use of who in object positions.
³ I’ve never enjoyed this game.
⁴ I care.
Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said ‘What a good boy am I!
Can she make a cherry pie?: A line from the folk song Billy Boy.
pie in the sky: used to describe plans or hopes considered unrealistic and overly optimistic
“high apple pie in the sky hopes”: a line from the song High Hopes, a song sung by Frank Sinatra
as easy as pie: an expression meaning “very easy.” In my experience, pie is not the easiest thing in the world to make. It involves crust, an oven, preparation of ingredients.³
“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe,” a quote by Carl Sagan
As American as apple pie: an expression meant to describe something quintessentially American. Of course, many cultures have versions of apple pies.⁴ Apple pie has nevertheless achieved a place in American culture:
Although apple pies have been eaten since long before the European colonisation of the Americas, “as American as apple pie” is a saying in the United States, meaning “typically American”. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. A newspaper article published in 1902 declared that “No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.” The dish was also commemorated in the phrase “for Mom and apple pie” – supposedly the stock answer of American soldiers in World War II, whenever journalists asked why they were going to war.
American Pie: Don McLean’s signature song, first released in 1971. Bye-bye Miss American Pie… (I’m quite fond of this large-scale lip dub video version of the song produced by the city of Grand Rapids Michigan.)
American Pie (1999): a movie that includes various analogies of sex and pie.
piebald: having patches of black and white (or other colors), especially describing the coat of an animal.
pie chart: a type of graph in which proportions of a whole (such as a whole data set) are depicted as wedges of a circle
piece of the pie: an expression meaning a share in something, such as a reward or credit.
mud pie: a pattie-shaped blob of mud, commonly made when playing in the mud
sweetie pie: a common term of endearment
cow pie: Not actually a pie made of cow (that would would be a beef pot pie), but a lump of cow manure. (Definitely not a term of endearment)
pie in the face: a bit of slapstick comedy, usually involving a whipped cream pie. Just like it sounds, it involves someone getting a pie in the face.
10 banana cream pies: Sesame Street once featured a rather clumsy baker who would stand at the top of a flight of stairs, and announce the number of some sort of dessert he was holding, before falling and spilling all of them. He may not actually have used banana cream pies for 10, but the phrase seems to have stuck. (cf. the use on the show The Family Guy.)
Have more pies to bring to the table? Throw ’em in the comments.
¹ So-called, as the date (at least as it is written here in the US) is 3-14, is reminiscent of the number Pi’s initial 3 digits: 3.14. My past celebrations of Pi Day have included easy as pi, my personal gallery of Pi Pies, and a Pi-themed list.
²I was surprised to learn that this nursery rhyme was actual used by pirates to convey messages. This is the sort of thing that would usually send me to Snopes to check, but in this case Snopes is where I found it.
³ Toast is much easier to make.
⁴ I love tarte aux pommes as made in France. You know what was hard to get in France when I lived there, though? Doritos.
⁵Really. Apple pie has a Wiki page. So do pumpkin pie, pecan pie and cherry pie.
Images: Little Jack Horner and the king with the pie are both from Project Gutenberg.
With Chinese New Year on the way this Sunday, we have almost run out of the year of the dragon. I started putting this list together as the Year of the Dragon entered, but now am barely managing to post it before the Dragon departs.
Dragons are creatures that have appeared in the mythologies of many cultures in Europe and Asia, and they are featured in many a song and story, among other things. Here are a dozen arbitrarily chosen dragon things to usher out the Year of the Dragon:
Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.
Puff, the Magic Dragon: A song by Peter, Paul & Mary that was inspired by Custard. (The dragon, that is. Not the dessert. But you never know. Sometimes if I eat dessert right before going to bed I get really weird dreams.)
Smaug: the treasure-hoarding dragon from J. R. R. Tolkiens classic novel, The Hobbit.
dragonfly: an insect that is neither a dragon nor a fly. Dragonflies are of the order odonata.
dragonfruit: a thing that is neither dragon nor fruit. No, wait. It *is* a fruit. But I’m mostly sure it’s not a dragon.
dragon dance: a Chinese tradition involving a large costume of a dragon, which is operated by multiple people. The dragon dance is often part of Chinese New Year celebrations.
Dragon Ball: While it sounds like it could be a formal-dress version of a dragon dance, it’s actually a media franchise including manga, anime, and video games. But they do feature dragons who can grant wishes.
Enter the Dragon (1973): Bruce Lee’s legendary martial arts movie. Bruce Lee does not actually enter a dragon in this movie. But he does enter a sort of dungeon, come to think of it.
Here be dragons: A phrase associated with unexplored territories on old maps. Possibly this is based on only one such map, The Hunt-Lenox Globe. According to its wiki page,
It is notable as the only instance on a historical map of the actual phrase HC SVNT DRACONES (in Latin hic sunt dracones means “here be dragons“.)
There are loads more great books, movies, legends, and things with dragons. I could easily add another few dozen dragons to the list, but we’d be well into the year of the snake by that time. Instead, I’ll wrap up and get to bed. But please feel free to add more dragons in the comments!
Yesterday I crossed the finish line for my commitment to daily blogging, and even met a deadline for a conference submission. (Remarkably, I submitted the paper even though the deadline was extended, in part to accommodate confusion over date lines and timezones, since the conference organizers are in Shanghai, and probably most of those submitting papers are from timezones that are lagging behind. But they added several days, which may be overkill…) And now I’m trying to get things in line for another submission. The timeline is quite tight, since the deadline is Monday. As it is, I’m pretty wiped out from pushing myself for that last submission. I think I’ve been running on adrenaline the last few weeks, which is actually not a kind of line. And while I should be working on an outline for the next deadline, or some other more productive line of activities, I find myself goofing of online. And thinking up line things.
stand in line: wait in a queue
toe the line: an expression meaning to conform to standards, and often mistakenly written as “tow the line.”
I Walk the Line: a Johnny Cash song from the 50s [on YouTube]
doing lines: a slang expression for snorting cocaine
line graph: a way of displaying information. I’ve been doing a lot of these lately. A line graph, generated using SPSS and silliness even though I should proabably be doing other things, like trying to get caught up on my sleep.
This list is but a scratch on the surface of all the things with line. (There sure are a lot of meanings of the word line, for a start.) If you have more line items to include in the line-up, drop me a line in the comments.
meat and potatoes: the main substance of something. (Also can be used as a more literal description of someones dietary preference, as in “a meat and potatoes kind of guy.”)
potato prints: the results of a printmaking technique in which a design is carved in a flat sliced section of potato (usually a half of a potato) to make a stamp. The potato edge is then dipped in paint or ink, and pressed against paper (or other surface) to imprint the design.
Potato Museum: seems to be more of an organization than a location. The real-world location of the museum collection has moved around. They offer up many tidbits of potato goodness. I just lost about 15 minutes doing an online jigsaw puzzle of a potato.
For an encyclopedic yet entertaining post on potatoes, their origins, history and etymology, check out potato on polyglot vegetarian. Also find a load of potato poems.
It’s been some time since I’ve served up a ThThTh post, but the recent wave of tuber-relatedposts got my mind churning up a big heapin’ mess o’ potato-themed things. Plus it’s Thanksgiving Day here in the US, and potatoes are part of the feast tradition.¹
One potato, two potato, three potato, four
Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more
Mr. Potato Head: a classic plastic toy from Hasbro, shaped like a potato with re-arrangeable features and appendages. Was featured as an animated character voiced by in the Toy Story movie franchise.³
Viva la Papa!Long live the potato! I don’t know how true it is, but I remember that there was allegedly some confusion about the Spanish phrase meaning “the Pope,” (El Papa) and possibly some misprinted merchandise.
Green potatoes: are apparently somewhat toxic, according to Snopes. (Snopes was not able to help me about the la papa, el papa question, and had this to offer on the topic of potatoes.)
The Potato Famine: another name for the Great Famine, which occurred in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 when potato crops failed due to the potato blight.
Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europeduring the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland – where one-third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato for food – was exacerbated by a host of political, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.
Sinead can tell you more about it.
Famine, a song by Sinead O’Connor
OK, I want to talk about Ireland
Specifically I want to talk about the “famine”
About the fact that there never really was one
There was no “famine”
See Irish people were only ALLOWED to eat potatoes
All of the other food
Meat fish vegetables
Were shipped out of the country under armed guard
To England while the Irish people starved
drop like a hot potato:an idiom meaning “suddenly stop associating with” whoever or whatever is likened to the hot potato. Example: She acted like she wanted to be my friend, but when she learned that I was only small potatoes , she dropped me like a hot potato.
Hot Potatoes: a song by The Kinks from 1972 [listen on YouTube]
mashed potatoes: what might happen to hot potatoes that have been dropped.
mashed potato: a dance step that was popular in the early 60s
small potatoes: an idiom meaning “insignificant.” (Small potatoes are really tasty for roasting, though.)
new potatoes: small young potatoes (that are not tater tots)
Potatoe: a mispelling of potato which achieved great fame when former Vice President Dan Quayle incorrectly corrected a kid at a spelling bee to add the e at the end.
couch potato: a term for someone who sits around a lot, especially on a couch. (This totally does not apply to me, as right now, I am sitting on a chair. Not a couch. The dent in the couch cushion in no way suggests that I spend too much time sitting there. Nope.)
Potato: a song. (Thank you Sally for bringing this potato to the table!)
Okay, it turns out I dug up too many potatoes. I decided to save away some of the extra potatoes. I’ll reheat them for you tomorrow…
¹They also go well with the ThThTh posts served up on Thanksgivings past: turkeys, bread, and utensils.²
² It’s ThThThThanksgiving.
³ I feel compelled to mention that this potato is being reused. Mr. Potato Head has already appeared in one of my ThThTh lists. Over 4 years ago.
⁴ Assuming that “children” is a term meaning “small cylinders made of shredded bits of the parents, who happen to be potatoes, which have been deep fried.”
Phoebe is a name meaning “bright and shining,” originating from ancient Greek. The first Phoebe was a goddess in Greek mythology, one of the Titans (also spelled Phoibe)
Many Phoebes have since made their appearance in fiction and life, such as Phoebe Snow, used in advertisements for the Lackawanna Railroad in the early 1900s:
Phoebes are birds: “The genus Sayornis is a small group of medium-sized insect-eating birds in the Tyrant flycatcher family Tyrranidaenative to North and South America.” (wiki). They are named for their song, which is said to sound like “fee-bee” (Click here to hear some Phoebe chirping.)
the cardinal number that is the sum of four and one
In case this meaning seems completely obscure to you, as it did to me, it appears to have originated in the dice game, craps. Among the “Principal craps terms” listed under the heading for craps in Dictionary of the American West: over 5,000 terms and expressions from Aarigaa! to Zopilote, by Winfred Blevins are these terms for a roll of 5: “fever dice, little Phoebe, feebee, or just Phoebe”
This is all by way of saying that my own little Phoebe is five today.
Happy New Year! It’s Chinese New Year today, marking the start of the year of the rabbit. In keeping with my tradition of welcoming the lunar new year with a themed list,¹ I present to you a bunch of rabbits:
“rabbit, rabbit” A tradition of saying “rabbit, rabbit” first thing when you wake up on the first of the month to bring you good luck. I used to do this as a kid. I hadn’t remembered it in years. (Maybe my luck would have been better…)
Bugs Bunny: a famous cartoon from the Looney Tunes/Warner Brothers. (What’s up, doc?)
Binky and Bongo: somewhat less famous rabbit characters from Matt Groening’s comic Life in Hell. (Bongo is the one with one ear.)
Watership Down: a novel by Richard Adams about a very complex rabbit society. Complete with their own language. I’m quite fond of the Lapine words tharn (which is the feeling one gets of being a deer caught in the headlights) and hrair (which is a number larger than 4–rabbits can only count up to 4.)
Other well-known stories feature a rabbit among other characters and species of creatures, such as Rabbit from A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books or the White Rabbit in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. There was also Thumper from Disney’s 1942 animated film Bambi. Br’er Rabbit: is a character from the traditional African American Uncle Remus folktales
Welsh Rabbit: a kind of food that is not actually made from rabbit. It is a thick sauce, traditionally made with cheddar cheese and ale, and served over toast. (Here’s a sample recipe.)
VW Rabbit: a kind of car, not traditionally made with cheddar cheese or ale.
rabbit food: what some call salads and other raw vegetables
rabbit’s foot: a good luck charm made from the foot of a rabbit (less lucky for the rabbit)
rabbit ears: antennae for a TV, not generally made from the ears of a rabbit (lucky rabbits)
Rabbits have appeared as mascots for products, especially in TV commercials, such as the Energizer Bunny (it keeps going), the Trix rabbit (Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.) and the Nesquik bunny (I have nothing to say about this rabbit.) For that matter, the logo of Playboy magazine is a stylized rabbit in a tuxedo. (I don’t have anything to say about that rabbit, either.)
Finally, we must not forget that rabbits, while typically portrayed as docile, may have big pointy teeth.
¹ …with pigs in 2007, rats in 2008, and cows in 2009. Last year, I didn’t put up a list for the New Year, in part because I had put up my tiger list before, and in part probalby because I was busy with something else.²
² In fact I shouldn’t be doing this list now, as I have loads of other things I am supposed to be doing, but I can’t resist. So I will be quick like a bunny. And I will pull this rabbit list out of my…hat. I’ve tried to keep it short, but the bunnies seem to keep multiplying. (You know how rabbits are. Though I can’t help but notice that just about all of the rabbit characters on the list are male. You’d think that would make the breeding tricky…)
10 (1979): a coming of (middle-)age movie about a man (Dudley Moore) who stalks a younger woman he doesn’t know (Bo Derek) after seeing her on her way to her wedding, and deciding that she is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. (Oddly enough, this is a romantic comedy, and not a suspense/thriller.)
decimate: to reduce something drastically, but historically by 10%:
c.1600, in reference to the practice of punishing mutinous military units by capital execution of one in every 10, by lot; from L. decimatus, pp. of decimare (see decimation). Killing one in ten, chosen by lots, from a rebellious city or a mutinous army was a common punishment in classical times. The word has been used (incorrectly, to the irritation of pedants) since 1660s for “destroy a large portion of.” Related:Decimated; decimating.
top 10 lists: 10 is a popular number for itemized lists of things that are “best ofs” or “worst ofs.” In poking around for this 10 list, I came across quite a few intriguing lists. Here are 10 of them just for you:
¹Seeing as I had a 7/7/7 list, an 8/8/8 list and a 9/9/9 list… ² Yes, I realize that there are really more than 10 things in my list, seeing as some of hte items themselves contain multiple items. But here are another 10 10 things I left off the list, anyhow: 1) 10-foot pole (something you wouldn’t want to touch something with), 2)Ten (Pearl Jam’s 1991 debut album), 3) tithe (donate 10% of your earnings), 4)10 pin bowling, 5) 10 (the numeric value given to face cards in a game of blackjack), 6) X: the roman numeral 10, 7) decagon (a 10-sided polygon), 8) 10th (the tin wedding anniversary), 9) dime: A ten-cent coin in the US or Canada, and 10)Perfect 10, a magazine³
³ This was new to me. I found it on Wikipedia, where the entry said this:
a quarterly men’s magazine featuring high resolution photographs of topless or nude women who have not had cosmetic surgery and focused in particular on slender models with piercing eyes and medium to large, youthful breasts in pensive or artistic poses.
Um, okay, does anyone else find the attachment ambiguity here highly entertaining? How, pray tell, does one portray youthful breasts in pensive poses?
¹º I know I should have 10 footnotes, but I’ve already spent way too much time on this list. So I’m not going to. Except by way of cheating.