Category Archives: words

a chance for pants

    Every time I have the chance
    While some may think it’s whack
    I’ll write a post involving pants

    Let the kitchen swarm with ants
    Leave the laundry on the rack
    Every time I have the chance

    I give my work a sideways glance
    I may catch a lot of flak
    I’ll write a post involving pants

    Humming lines from Safety Dance
    I’ll type away upon my Mac
    Every time I have the chance

    I’ll not read a bad romance
    Nor journal papers in their stack
    I’ll write a post involving pants

    Though others look at me askance
    I swear I’m not on crack
    Every time I have the chance
    I’ll write a post involving pants


These pants are dedicated, in loving memory, to my friend Elizabeth, whose claim that pants was the funniest word in the English language first introduced me to the humorous powers of pants. Your pants will never be forgotten, dear friend.

The form of this post is a villanelle, a style of poetry, and the assignment of today’s Monday Mission. Please pay a visit to Painted Maypole to see who else has chosen to accept this mission. Painted herself has told me that she has a poem up, also with the theme of pants. (Painted penned a poem of pants.)

Today also marks the third anniversary of this blog. It seemed only fitting that it should wear plenty of pants today.


remember, remember

four lobes of the cerebral cortexIt’s the 5th of November. Which makes me remember some things about remembering.

I’m fascinated by memory, and clearly I’m not alone, judging from the large number of movies, stories, songs and such that feature themes of memory. Or loss of memory. Here’s a ThThTh list of some things I can remember:

    Some memory-related things that come to mind

  • The poem about Guy Fawkes day:

    Remember, remember the fifth of November,
    The gunpowder treason and plot,
    I know of no reason
    Why the gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot.

  • remember the Alamo!
  • mnemonic devices: phrases, poems or other sayings used to aid the memory for specific facts, such as:
    • Roy G. Biv (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet: the order of colors in the rainbow)
    • homes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior: i.e. the Great Lakes)

    (more mnemonic devices here)

  • string on finger

  • string tied around a finger: if you need to remember something, you can tie a string around your finger as a reminder that there was something you were supposed to remember. This relies on you being able to remember what it was that you hoped to remember.
  • souvenir: a keepsake or memento, typically from a visit to a place to which one has travelled. From the French verb souvenir, “to remember”
  • memento: an object kept to remember a time, place or event. From the latin remember:

    L. memento “remember,” imperative of meminisse “to remember,” a reduplicated form, related to mens “mind.” Meaning “reminder, warning” is from 1582; sense of “keepsake” is first recorded 1768. (from etymology online)

  • Memento (2000): a movie about a man who loses his ability to form new memories.
  • The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): a movie in which people can undergo a process of selective memory erasure.
  • Chester Tate: A character on the 70s TV show Soap who spends several episodes with amnesia.
  • “Tabula Rasa,” a Buffy episode: A spell gone awry causes the main characters to forget who they are. Hilarity ensues. (Seriously, it’s a really fun, funny episode.)
  • “The Forget me Knot,” an episode of The Avengers in which Emma Peel forgets who she is. (This was Diana Rigg’s last episode on the series.)
  • Forget Me Not,” an amnesia episode of Gilligan’s Island (Okay, I didn’t actually remember this one, guessed that there was an amnesia episode.)
  • For that matter, there are probably plenty of episodes from sci-fi shows like those in the Star Trek and Star Gate universes.
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996): Geena Davis plays an amnesiac ex-spy
  • The Bourne Identity (2002): Matt Damon plays an amnesiac ex-spy
  • Who am I?/Wo shi shei (1998): Jackie Chan plays an amnesiac spy.
  • Total Recall (1990) Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a spy whose memories were re-written
  • lots more movies and shows with a memory (or loss of memory) theme can be found here:
  • “I Don’t Remember,” a song by Peter Gabriel

    I don’t remember, I don’t recall
    I got no memory of anything at all

  • “I can’t forget,” a song by Leonard Cohen. I can’t forget, but I don’t remember what.
  • “Only a Memory,” a song by the Smithereens
  • The Persistence of Memory: famous Salvador Dalí painting with melting watches
  • memory: a card game also known by the name “concentration”
  • memory: a computer component for storing data
  • ddr ram

  • Remember when Chris Farley interviewed people? Remember how he interviewed Paul McCartney? That was awesome.

    Chris Farley: You remember when you were with the Beatles?
    Paul McCartney: Yes.
    Chris Farley: That was awesome.

A Panthropology 101 Vocabulary Primer

For those of you new to the study of pants, it may be helpful to learn a few key terms commonly used by the field’s top panthropologists. As an exercise, please use one of the following words in a sentence.

    pantipathy: a strong aversion to pants
    pantiquity: bloomers of old
    pantithesis: the opposite of pants
    pantidote: a remedy for really ugly pants
    pantidisestablishmentarianism: a fierce opposition to going shopping for pants
    pantagonize: to cause annoyance by mocking someone’s ugly pants
    pantepenultimate: the pants you wear when you are almost, but not quite, down to your last pair of clean pants.
    pantecedent: the pants you wore yesterday
    pantennae: trouser-shaped appendages atop the head (see also pantlers)
    panterior: the front side of one’s pants
    pantathema: really, really ugly pants
    panthem: a song of pants celebration. PANTS!
    panthology: a collection of short pants
    panthrax: an infectious disease that makes one’s pants fit poorly
    panthropormorphism: ascribing properties of pants to objects or creatures
    pantlers: the horns atop the head of a pantelope
    pantomime: the trousers of a mime
A pair of pantennae.

A pair of pantennae.

This load of pants was for a Monday Mission, hosted by Painted Maypants. This week’s assignment was to write a post in the form of a vocabulary list.

Channel V

Dee of On The Curb has posted a playlist of some of her favorite “vagina music,” with her post entitled exceeding my bandwith on the word vagina.¹ (You should go check out Dee’s blog, by the way. In case you haven’t guessed it, she’s freakin’ hilarious.)

Dee doesn’t quite give a definition of “vagina music,” but she gives quite a few examples. If I had to summarize, I’d say that the songs are ones that move her down to her…um…core, and tap into her emotions. And perhaps also those that remind her that she is biologically female.

Further, Dee has requested comparable lists from others. In her words, “I show you mine, you show me yours.”

Okay, Dee. I’ll show you mine. While I’ve never thought of this music in quite those terms², this is my response playlist:

  1. Save Me – Aimee Mann (listen)
  2. Thief – Belly (listen)
  3. Lucky – Bif Naked (listen)
  4. Bulimic Beats – Catatonia (listen)
  5. No Need To Argue – The Cranberries (listen)
  6. Virgin State Of Mind – K’s Choice (listen)
  7. Autumngirlsoup – Kirsty MacColl (listen)
  8. Your Ghost – Kristin Hersh (listen)
  9. Famous Blue Raincoat – Leonard Cohen (listen)
  10. De Cara A La Pared – Lhasa (listen)
  11. Wild Is The Wind – Nina Simone (listen)
  12. Down By The Water – P J Harvey (listen)
  13. Dancing Barefoot – Patti Smith Group (listen)
  14. Haunted – Poe (listen)
  15. Glory Box – Portishead (listen)
  16. Possession- Sarah McLachlan (listen)
  17. i am stretched on your grave – Sinéad O’Connor (listen)
  18. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me – The Smiths (listen)
  19. Anchor – Trespassers William (listen)

How about you. Wanna show me yours?


¹ Dee is not shy about using the word vagina. In fact, in her post, she uses the word vagina no fewer than 38 times. (Yes, I counted. One vagina, two vagina, three vagina, four. Five vagina, six vagina, seven vagina, more…) And that, my friends, is a most impressive feat.

² The thing is, though, I’m not a big fan of the word vagina. In fact, this post here marks the first time I’m using the word on my blog. (Yes, I did a search.) Also the 2nd through 15th times. (Yes, I counted.) Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against vaginas. Or vaginae, if you prefer. I’m glad I have one of my own, and all. I just find the word vagina awkward.

Now spleen, on the other hand, there’s a word I like. Spleen. It’s a word that amuses me. I also appreciate its range of meanings. Some of you may know the spleen as an organ in the lymphatic system. But it was once esteemed as “the seat of spirit and courage or of such emotions as mirth, ill humor, melancholy, etc.” Me, I’m all about the mirth, the ill humor and the melancholy. Then there’s the whole archaic meaning of splenetic to mean “melancholy.” And my playlist is pretty darned melancholy.

So maybe you can consider this my spleen music.


We have some foam letters that Phoebe plays with at bath time. We’ll often talk about and name letters, and sometimes spell a few words on the tub walls.

A couple of nights ago, Phoebe picked up a D.

“What words start with a D,” John asked.

“Dog,” says Phoebe, quite quickly. We are impressed, and feel quite pleased with our parenting.

“Right! What else?”

Phoebe thought a bit. “Um…”

“Door,” I suggest.

“Dandelion,” says John.

“Daddy,” I say.

“Damn!” Phoebe suggests. John and I pause. Crap, we do swear too much in front of her.

“Oh…dam! Right! Like the dam where we go for walks sometimes!” I say, gladly remembering the dam where we go for walks sometimes.

“And dammit!” Phoebe says proudly.

Phoebe on the dam where we go for walks sometimes.

Phoebe on the dam where we go for walks sometimes.

Photo by John.

couldn’t resist

With my recent posting obsession, I couldn’t resist doing a wordle:


When I get on a roll, I get on a roll.

Now I just need to boost my pants frequency to get a new wordle.

weaving out of control

overwhelmed and under pressure
buckling under, in over my head
fruitflies overtake an underripe banana

overeducated and underdressed
chronic overachiever feeling snowed under
underestimated tasks, schedule overloaded
commitments overlapping and under the gun
time to shave underarms when hell freezes over

overwrought and under attack
hot under the collar I overreact
overeasy eggs have undercooked yolks

overextended and underfunded
tree branches overhang, basement floor under water
the undergrowth is overgrown
overdue bills crackle under foot
in under the roof, squirrels overrun the attic

overprivileged and underproductive
an overstuffed sofa cushion under my butt
get over yourself and get underway
the monkey’s overboard and the undertow pulls

overtired and under the weather
overconfidence getting undermined
soft underbelly feels overexposed
overanxious thoughts swept under the carpet
laundry overflowing and no clean underwear

overwritten and underwhelming
an overzealous undertaking
overblown metaphors from under my hat
overcooked pasta with underseasoned sauce

yes we can (can)

cylinder-19_42791_smWith winter around the corner (or actually in the building for some of us), many people are looking to preserve their foods for the colder months. So some people can.

Can you can? Actually, I can’t can. Well, maybe I could can. But I don’t can. Perhaps I should can. Maybe someday I will can.

But for now, what I can do is make a list. Of cans. For ThThTh¹.

A big can of cans

  1. can: an English modal verb. Like other modals (eg could, should, would, will, may, etc.), it doesn’t take the third person singular -s suffix. It is typically spoken in a very reduced form, with a syllabic alveolar nasal for the rhyme [kʰn̩] unless it bears sentence-level stress (eg. a pitch accent), in which case it has the full low front vowel [æ] like the other cans (i.e. [kʰæn]²).
  2. can: a verb meaning “preserve food in jars or cans”
  3. can: a noun meaning “an enclosed metal container” (also a tin, though cans not need be made of tin. Actually, I guess some cans are not even entirely metal.)
  4. the can: a slang term for a bathroom, or for the toilet itself.
  5. can: a verb meaning “discontinue.” As in “the show was canned.”
  6. can it!: an expression akin to “shut up.”
  7. Pringles: potato chips that come in a can
  8. cheeseburger in a can: exactly what it sounds like. Yick.
  9. Prince Albert in a can: A kind of tobacco sold in a tin made famous for the use of its name in prank phone calls:

    prank caller: Do you have Prince Albert in a can?
    shopkeeper: Yes we do.
    prank caller: Well, why don’t you let him out?

  10. Campbell’s Soup Cans: Andy Warhol’s famous work of art, which consists of 32 canvasses each with a silk-screened picture of a can of Campbell’s soup.
  11. canned laughter: recorded laugh tracks used with TV shows.
  12. kick the can: a game usually played outdoors. (I’ve never played it, actually. It appears to be akin to both tag and hide and seek)
  13. can of worms: an expression meaning “complications” or “difficulties.” As in “we don’t want to open up that can of worms.” Which strikes me as kinda funny, as I imagine that a can of worms, if not exactly pleasant, would be rather straightforward.
  14. There is a tradition to string empty cans from the back of a car (usually emblazened with “just married”) which a bride and groom will use to leave their wedding
  15. The Can can: a French chorus line dance. (Also written cancan or can-can.)
  16. can_can_dancers

  17. “Can You Can Can?”: lyrics by Richard Perlmutter (of Beethoven’s Wig) set to Can Can from Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach. The chorus goes like this:

    Oh can you do the Can Can?
    If you can then I can
    I can Can Can if you Can Can
    Can you Can Can

  18. Yes We Can Can: a Pointer Sisters song.
  19. “Yes We Can”: a campaign speech by President-elect Barack Obama³ about the benefits of preserving food, and a song using elements of that speech [YouTube]. (Okay, it’s not really about canning.)


¹This list of cans was inspired by a post on preserving foods from Flying Tomato Farms. In particular, this bit got me thinking about can:

Because I can (that is, preserve food in jars using boiling water and pressure-processing methods), and because I teach a couple of people each season to can, I sometimes get frustrated with customers at farmers markets who decline to take the farmers up on their bulk discounts for produce that could easily be put up using simple methods of boiling water bath canning, drying, or freezing.

In addition to it providing me with amusement over the need to disambiguate the word can, it was a very intersting post about the need for local processing of food in order to better support local food economies.

² This should actually have a tilda diacritic over the vowel, too, but I can’t get the unicode symbol to work right.

³ Wahoo!

images: can-can dancers from, soup cans from Florida Center for Instructional Technology Clipart ETC

anatomy lessons

This may come as a shock to you, but males and females have differences in anatomy. Well, if you are 2 years old, at least, it may come as a bit of a surprise.

It may not come as a surprise to you that a 2-year-old who has been going through intensive potty training might be rather intrigued with diapers. So when Theo came home from the hospital, Phoebe wanted to be around to watch his diaper changes. For the first couple changes that Phoebe observed, she was mostly disturbed by the umbilical stump, which was a pretty disturbing thing. “I don’t like that thing,” she said. “Take it off.”

Once the offending appendage had fallen off, when Theo was around 10 days old, Phoebe’s attention was drawn to the diaper area.

“He has a nipple!” she exclaimed with surprise.
“Oh, um, that’s something else,” I replied.
And then, blissfully, the attention got diverted.

Some diaper change, a few days later:
Phoebe: What’s that thing?
My head: Damn, do we have to have this conversation?
Me: Well, that’s where his pee-pee comes out. Um…
Some people call it a “pee-pee.”
My head: Do we really want to teach her baby-talk terms?
Me: But it’s really called a penis.
My head: Damn, did I just teach the word penis to my 2-year-old daughter?
Me: It’s something that boys have.
Phoebe: Oh.
Me: [awkward silence]
My head: [awkward silence]
Phoebe: [Happily] I just have the regular kind.
Me: Me too!

I’ve had this in my drafts for a few weeks, and have since been amused to read a couple of other posts on terms for nipples and other bits from
dragonfly and Emily.