Category Archives: randomness

super bowl

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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.

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moo

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

  1. 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?
  2. ben_and_jerrys gatewaylogo vache_qui_rit

  3. cow pie: Not anlagous to a chicken pie, this is not a beef-filled pastry.
  4. cowlick: a section of hair that grows in the wrong direction, sticking out as if licked by a cow.
  5. 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.”
  6. Graceless, Aimless, Feckless and Pointless: the cows from Cold Comfort Farm (1995), one of my all time favorite movies. (Also in the novel by Sella Gibbons). Loads of other movies featuring cows, can be found at a cow-obsessed website called Bovine Bazaar.
  7. “The cow jumped over the moon”: a famous line from “Hey Diddle Diddle”
  8. cow_jump_over_moon

  9. sacred cows: Cows are holy in the Hindu religion, and are allowed to roam the streets freely in India.
  10. holy cow! An exclamation of surprise. Holy cow! That’s a lot of cows roaming the streets!
  11. “Cows,” A chorus-line inspired song off of Sandra Boynton’s album Philadelphia Chickens.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Don’t have a cow, man. An expression meaning “don’t get upset.” A catchphrase used by Bart on The Simpsons.
  15. How now, brown cow? A saying used to practice the diphthong [aʊ], which is contained in each of the words.
  16. “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.

  17. 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.

cow_sketched

¹ The blue ox, not the pig.
²I’ll spare you the bull, or at least the bulls, for now.

logs, blogged

250px-fireplace-rmIt’s getting to be cold and wintry around here. Seems like a good time to throw a few logs on the fire. Or to throw some logs on a list.

a load of logs

  • Yule log: a big hunk of wood burned as a Christmas or Yule tradition. Some places, like the town of Beulah, Colorado, have Yule Log Festival.
  • The WPIX Yule Log Special: a televised broadcast of a log burning in a fireplace.
  • Bûche de Noël: a cake shaped like a log that is a traditional Christmastime dessert in France.
  • easy as falling off a log: an idiom meaning very easy to do. Doesn’t usually involve the bruising or fractures that might happen from actually falling off a log.
  • log: an abbreviation of logarithm
  • 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.”
  • “Log Jamming”: a fictitious porn movie from The Big Lebowski.
  • log rolling: a sport involving balancing on a log that’s rolling in water.
  • saw logs: a pair of homophonous expressions pertaining to lumber and slumber. The noun is about big pieces of wood that can be sawed. The verb is about snoring.
  • logger: a person who works in the logging trade, also known as a lumberjack. When not sawing logs, lumberjacks like to put on women’s clothing and hang around in bars:
  • log cabin: A house constructed of logs.
  • Log Cabin: a brand of maple syrup that used to come in a log cabin-shaped tin.
  • Abraham Lincoln: a United States president who (among his other accomplishments) was born in a log cabin.
  • Lincoln Logs: building toys shaped like little logs, traditionally made out of wood.
  • Log: “It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood.” A product with a catchy commercial and jingle: “…it fits on your back, good for a snack, it’s log log log…” (Really it’s from Ren & Stimpy.)

fireplace image by rmahle

goosey, loosely

goose_girlIt’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

  1. 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”
  2. a wild goose chase: an expression for a fruitless venture, usually involving a lot of wasted energy. And sometimes flying feathers.
  3. a goose walked over my grave: an expression meaning “got a sudden chill”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. take a gander at: an expression meaning “have a look.” As in “Take a gander at those soldiers doing the goose step.”
  7. goose step: a formal style of military marching.
  8. Spruce Goose: an airplane made out of wood.
  9. to goose: to poke someone in the butt, or between the cheeks.
  10. gets my goose: an expression one says when something has annoyed or made angry. (Probably a corruption of the similar “gets my goat.”) You know what really gets my goose? Getting goosed.
  11. duck, duck, goose: a children’s game played in a group. Participants sit around in a circle and quack and honk. (No, not really. Click the link if you don’t already know the game.)
  12. Mother Goose: a name given to the author of traditional nursery rhymes, who may or may not have been a real individual.
  13. Gossie: a children’s book by Olivier Dunrea about a gosling and her bright red boots.
  14. “The Goose Girl”: a fairy tale about a girl who is frequently goosed. Or maybe not.
  15. The Golden Goose: a recipe for roasting a goose. Or maybe it’s another fairy tale.
  16. The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs: a fable attribute to Aesop about a couple who had a profitable business agreement with a goose until they got too greedy.
  17. killing the goose that laid the golden eggs: an expression based on the above fable, said of people who have it out for geese, and are worried about cholesterol levels.
  18. goose egg: a slang term for zero, based on the fact that goose eggs weigh absolutely nothing. Or maybe because of their shape.
  19. silly goose: what one might call a person who is behaving in a silly way.
  20. give a gift of geese: Heifer International offers geese among their gift options, getting a family a goose to raise. Much better than getting goosed.

simpleton_finds_the_golden_gooseold_mother_goose

setting the table

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a holiday marked by primarily by sitting around a table and eating. In honor of the day, I’ll set the table for you.

This ThThTh list features utensils. Actually, just forks and spoons. I’ll keep the knives stored safely away for another day. Likewise, I will avoid the hazards of the spork.
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A collection of spoons (and forks)

  1. Spoon!: The battlecry of The Tick.
  2. spooning: a position for cuddling.
  3. born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth: an expression said of one who is born into a wealthy family.
  4. Silver Spoons (1982-1987) A TV show about a rich kid and his father. (Did anyone else remember that the show had regular appearances from Jason Bateman as a kid?)
  5. Can you hang a spoon from the tip of your nose?
  6. gag me with a spoon: an 80s Valspeak exclamation used to express contempt and/or disgust.
  7. A Spoonful of Sugar: a song from the movie Mary Poppins.
  8. Hey Diddle Diddle: A nursery rhyme in which a dish rus away with a spoon:

    Hey diddle diddle,
    The cat and the fiddle,
    The cow jumped over the moon.
    The little dog laughed to see such fun,
    And the dish ran away with the spoon.

  9. And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon: a picture book by Janet Stevens.
  10. 696px-heydiddle and_the_dish

  11. “There is no spoon”: a line from The Matrix, and a reference to this spoon-bending scene:
  12. fork in the road: a type of intersection.
  13. The Dirty Fork Sketch, from Monty Python:
  • The Blue Rajah: a character played by Hank Azaria in Mystery Men (1999). A superhero who throws forks (and fork-filled dialog):

    • 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.
    800px-fork6233

    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.)

    change is good

    With Tuesday’s election in the US, people all over have been talking about change. Lots of people are saying they want change.

    As such, it seemed a good time to offer up some change myself. Some spare change.

    I dug out these coin things from deep in the pockets of my brain (and a few from between the couch cushions) just in time for ThThTh.

    A Coin Collection¹

    • “Christmas is Coming:” an English Christmas carol

      Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
      Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
      If you haven’t got a penny a ha’-penny will do
      If you haven’t got a ha’-penny
      then God bless you

    • a penny for your thoughts: an expression spoken as a request to hear about what someone else is thinking. Does not usually actually involve a cash transaction.
    • “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” a treacly song from the faux musical from Waiting for Guffman. (You can hear a version of it performed by Elvis Costello, even. It’s still painfully treacly.)

      So here’s penny for your thoughts, a nickel for a kiss
      A dime if you tell me that you love me

    • lucky penny: Pennies are sometimes kept as good luck charms. Finding a penny is said to bring good luck: “Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.”
    • There is a wedding custom for the bride to put a penny in her shoe for the ceremony for “good fortune and protection against want”:

      Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a copper penny in your shoe!

    • penny loafers: shoes in which people would stick a penny as an ornament.
    • “Pennies from Heaven,” a song and a movie from 1936. Originally sung by Bing Crosby, then by many others. (Here’s a youtube version by Billie Holiday.)
    • 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.)
    • 50 Cent: the stage name of rapper Curtis James Jackson III
    • silver-dollar pancakes: very small pancakes, such as might ressemble a large coin.

    dime
    ———
    ¹ It’s a bit heavy on the pennies, but so are most change piles.²

    ² I almost forgot the word of the day. I’ve chosen denticles : “Small tooth like raised points on the inside edge of coins.” How could I resist a word that rhymes with tenticles?

    some key things

    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 Golden Key“, a fairy tale from the Grimm brothers.
  • 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.”


  • Okay, it’s 11:56. Still Thursday!

    going nuts

    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.
    • Nuts (2007) A short movie directed by Irvine Welsh. (You can actually watch it on IMDB.)
    • nut: a piece of hardware: “a type of hardware fastener with a threaded hole.” Typically used with a bolt.
    • wingnut: a kind of nut (the hardware kind) with the appearance of wings
    • wingnut: someone with extremely right-wing political views. As in “please don’t let us have a wingnut for vice president!”
    • nuts: a slang term for testicles.
    • Mr. Peanut. The mascot for Planter’s nuts. An anthropomorphic peanut wearing a tophat.
    • in a nutshell: an expression meaning “in summary” or “in brief,” evoking the compact size of a nutshell, and what can be stuffed in it.
    • O’Reilly’s In a Nutshell series: technical reference books, such as Perl in a Nutshell and Java in a Nutshell
    • 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.
    • The Nutcracker: a ballet by Tchaikovsky, based on the story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann featuring a decorative nutcracker toy.
    • 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.

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    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).

    Arrrrr!

    Friday, September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Last year, I celebrated the event by writing a series of pirate-themed posts, including a pirate’s resume (and subsequent job rejection letter) as well as a tutorial on how to talk like a pirate. Oh, and also by saying “arrr” a whole lot. Arrrr.

    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.

    1. 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!

      Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
      part of the fidius.org network

    2. Treasure Island. Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel of pirates. Adapted into various movies. Including one with muppets.
    3. 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.)
    4. “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…)
    5. Cutthroat Island (1995). Geena Davis plays a pirate. She kicks ass, in spite of the general suckiness of the movie.
    6. Pirates of the Caribbean. A Disneyland ride. Also some movies.
    7. The Dread Pirate Roberts. A character from The Princess Bride (book and movie). A pirate whose identity is used serially by various individuals.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.)
    10. The Pirates! A series of short novels by Gideon Defoe. (The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Whaling/Ahab, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Communists, and The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon.) They are supposed to be quite funny, but I haven’t had a chance to read them for meself.
    11. Pirate’s Booty. A tasty cheesy-puffy snack food by Robert’s Gourmet.
    12. For more cheesy piratical goodness, check out The Skwib’s tale of curdaneer’s and exploding cheese on the high seas.
    13. My favorite pirate joke. (Adapted from this version.)

      A sailor meets a pirate in a bar, and they take turns telling about their adventures on the seas. The sailor notes that the pirate has a peg-leg, a hook and an eye patch.

      The sailor asks “So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?”

      The pirate replies: “We were in a storm at sea, and I were swept overboard into a school of sharrks. Just as me men were pullin; me out, a shark bit me leg off.”

      “Wow!” said the sailor. “What about the hook?”

      “We were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the other sailors with swords. One of the enemy cut me hand off.”

      “Incredible!” said the sailor. “And how did you get the eye patch?”

      “Arr. That were from a seagull-dropping fell into my eye,” replied the pirate.

      “You lost your eye to a seagull-dropping?” the sailor asked incredulously.

      “Aye,” said the pirate,”it was me first day with the hook…”