Category Archives: nursery rhymes

falling down


It’s autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere. Fall. Here in New England, the leaves are changing colors. And falling.

But leaves aren’t the only things falling.¹ Gravity appears to have been at work in many areas, as evidenced by the fallen items below.

  • Humpty Dumpty: He had a great fall. (Actually, it didn’t turn out so great for him, what with the breaking up. Maybe his summer was better.)
  • Jack (of Jack and Jill): Fell down. Broke his crown.
  • The sky: It’s falling. (At least according to Chicken Little.)
  • The cradle: It will fall. Out of a tree. With a baby in it. (I’m not sure why a song about a baby falling out of a tree is supposed to help bring on sleep…)
  • London Bridge: It’s falling down. (Falling down, falling down.)
  • Falling Down (1993): A Michael Douglas movie
  • “Falling:” a song by Julee Cruise that was well known as the theme song for the TV series Twin Peaks.
  • The Fall: a “post-punk” band
  • take the fall: to take the blame for something
  • fall guy: someone who takes the fall, a scapegoat
  • The Fall Guy: An 80s TV series about a stunt man starring Lee Majors (better known for his 70s role as the “bionic man.”)
  • to fall short: to not meet expectations
  • fall asleep: to enter a sleeping state
  • fallout: consequences, especially those that aren’t immediate
  • fall in: to get into line
  • fall in love:an expression meaning, um, to fall in love. Crap. How do I even paraphrase that? I guess “become enamored of, usually in a romantic way.”
  • fall for someone: an expression meaning “be won over by someone,” or sometimes “start to like someone”
  • fall for something: to be tricked
  • fall into the pudding: this isn’t actually an expression²
  • Fall on Me” A song by R.E.M.
  • When I Pretend to Fall: an album by the Long Winters, and a line from the song “Stupid.” She laughs when I pretend to fall…
  • Ring around the rosie³:

    Ring around the rosie
    Pocket full of posie
    Ashes, Ashes
    We all fall down

And there it is. We all fall down.⁴

—–

¹ Clearly I’ve been falling down on the job with my ThThTh posts, seeing as the last one I posted was in December.

² There are loads more real idioms involving falling

³Apparently there are many different versions of this, some of which don’t even involve falling down. Theo has been reciting a version of this lately. Mostly what I hear is “Asses, asses, we fall down.” I don’t recall seeing that one on the Wiki page.

⁴ Often on our asses.

Cradle falling image from The Only True Mother Goose Melodies, by Munroe & Francis, 1833, found on the Gutenberg Project.

breaking bread

Today is Thanksgiving in the US, a holiday marked primarily by having a large meal together with family and/or loved ones. In previous years, I’ve set the table with utensils, and served up some turkeys. This year, I want to make sure we include bread (and a few other bready baked goods) in our ongoing ThThTh feast.

  • break bread: an expression meaning “have a meal together with people”
  • “Breaking Bread,” a song by Johnny Cash
  • “bumped his head on a piece of bread”: a line from the song/nursery rhyme “It’s raining, it’s pouring” in the version I learned as a child (though not in more commonly known versions). Did anyone else learn this version?

    It’s raining, it’s pouring
    The old man in snoring.
    Bumped his head on a piece of bread,
    And didn’t get up till morning.

  • bread: a slang term for money
  • breadwinner: one who earns money for a household
  • dough: another term for “bread” as in “I’ll need some dough to buy bread”
  • dough: a mixture of flour, water and other ingredients used to bake bread, as in “I’ll knead some dough to bake bread.”
  • The Pillsbury Doughboy: an anthropomorphic wad of dough used to sell products for Pillsbury.
  • half a loaf is better than no bread or half a loaf is better than none: an expression meaning, roughly “getting something is better than getting nothing”
  • “Half a loaf is better than low bred:” a joke made by John Steed in The Avengers episode “The Correct Way to Kill
  • The Little Red Hen: a fairy tale about a hard-working, wheat-growing, flour-grinding, bread-baking hen who gets no help from her lazy companions, who prefer to loaf.
  • “give us this day our daily bread:” a line from the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer recited by Christian church-goers
  • bread line: a queue to receive food from a charitable organization
  • whitebread: a slang adjective used to describe someone whose tastes are bland and culturally mainstream, or things associated with such a person. Such as white bread.
  • bun in the oven: an expression meaning “knocked up”
  • The Muffin Man: an English nursery rhyme. Do you know the muffin man?
  • muffin top: the lumps of flesh about the waist caused by wearing pants that are too tight
  • Hansel and Gretel: in this fairy tale, two children leave a trail of breadcrumbs to mark their path so that they won’t get lost in the woods. It’s not a particularly effective method.
  • bread is the staff of life: a saying about the importance of bread. Etymology online says:

    Staff of life “bread” is from the Biblical phrase “to break the staff of bread” (Lev. xxvi.26), transl. Heb. matteh lekhem.

    I’ll take a page from Magpie and redirect you to this blogger, who poked further into the orgins of the phrase.

  • “I’ll grind his bones to make my bread,” a line spoken by the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk:

    Fee-fi-fo-fum!
    I smell the blood of an Englishman.
    Be he ‘live, or be he dead,
    I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

  • the best thing since sliced bread: an expression said appreciatively of something really innovative, or just something really good. Often said facetiously.
  • bread and circus: as the wiki says, since I’m too tired/lazy to say something on my own “is a metaphor for handouts and petty amusements that politicians use to gain popular support, instead of gaining it through sound policy”
  • Project Bread, a Massachusetts anti-hunger organization. I’ll donate $5.00 to them for each commenter who includes the name of a type of bread in the comments below.

image credits: bread from wpclipart, Little Red Hen from Ella M. Beebe Picture Primer (New York: American Book Company, 1910) 87 from clipart ETC.

sock it to me

I just can’t get enough of those socks. I figure you can’t either. So, I’ve rifled through my sock drawer to share with you this sock-themed ThThTh list.

  • knock your socks off: an idiom meaning “impress” or “surprise in a good way,” as in The excitement of this sock list will knock your socks off.
  • put a sock in it: “be quiet.” (Differs somewhat from “put it in a sock.”
  • bobby-soxer: a 1940s term for a teenage girl, especially fans of Sinatra
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947): a movie with Cary Grant and a teenaged Shirley Temple.
  • sock hop: a dance popular in the US in the 1950s in which participants took off their shoes and danced in their socks
  • stocking_23

  • Christmas stockings: socks hung by the fireplace as part of a Christmas tradition. They are then filled with eggs by the Easter Bunny. (Do I have that right?)
  • Fox in Socks: A Dr. Seuss book (featuring a fox wearing socks) filled with particularly tricky tonguetwisters:

    New socks.
    Two socks.
    Whose socks?
    Sue’s socks.
    Who sews whose socks?
    Sue sews Sue’s socks.
    Who sees who sew whose new socks, sir?
    You see Sue sew Sue’s new socks, sir.

  • foxinsocksbookcoverpippi.jpg

  • Pippi Longstocking: A character from a series of children’s books by Astrid Lindgenwho wore socks that were not only long (long stockings) but noteworthy for being mismatched
  • Diddle Diddle Dumpling: a Mother Goose rhyme featuring (at least in some versions) stockings:

    Diddle diddle dumpling
    My son John
    Went to bed with his stockings on
    One shoe off and one shoe on.

  • bluestocking: a term for an “educated, intellectual woman” used commonly in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also Blue Stockings Society.
  • redsox

  • Red Sox: a baseball team based in Boston, MA
  • White Sox: a baseball team based in Chicago, IL
  • Chartreuse Sox: a baseball team based in my imagination
  • threesockmonkeys

  • sock monkeys: stuffed toys traditionally made from socks. (Perhaps less traditional is the sock monkey dress.)
  • sock puppets: hand puppets made out of socks.
  • sock puppet: a dummy internet account
  • The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theater: a sock puppet duo of YouTube fame

  • The Bureau of Missing Socks: “the first organization solely devoted to solving the question of what happens to missing single socks. It explores all aspects of the phenomena including the occult, conspiracy theories, and extraterrestrial.”

tiny_sockstiny_sockstiny_sockstiny_sockstiny_sockstiny_sockstiny_socks

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.

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

the cutting edge

knife_12For last week’s ThThTh list, I set the table with forks and spoons. I said I’d be back later with the knives.

  1. like a hot knife through butter: an expression meaning that something was or can be cut easily
  2. not the sharpest knife in the drawer: an expression meaning “not very smart,” playing of the use of the word sharp as a synonym of intelligent.
  3. The Subtle Knife: A novel by Philip Pullman, second in the trilogy His Dark Materials. (It’s the sequel to The Golden Compass.)
  4. “3 Blind Mice”: a nursery rhyme and song in which a carving knife is used. Possibly is about Bloody Mary.

    Three blind mice, three blind mice,
    See how they run, see how they run,
    They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
    Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
    Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
    As three blind mice?

  5. going under the knife: an expression meaning “having surgery”
  6. “I always eat my peas with honey”: A poem of largely unknown origins. I first ever heard it while visiting my in-laws last week (and eating peas), and then encountered it a second time the next day when Magpie left it as a comment on my utensil list. Kind of eerie.

    I always eat my peas with honey;
    I’ve done it all my life.
    They do taste kind of funny but
    It keeps them on my knife.

  7. Shonen Knife: an all female “pop punk” band from Japan. They also have an album called Let’s Knife.
  8. Mack the Knife: a song from the Threepenny opera. Has been performed by many, From Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong to Sting, The Doors and The Psychedlic Furs.
  9. “Cuts Like a Knife”: the title track from the 1983 Bryan Adams album (YouTube)
  10. Slash with a Knife, a book of works by artist Yoshitomo Nara with many paintings of angry and threatening-looking but cute litte kids.
  11. Knives can be used for slashing, stabbing, and throwing (as well as slicing, dicing and julienning), so they appear pretty frequently in movies as weapons. You might see them such in fight scenes (eg. West Side Story) or murder mysteries (eg. Gosford Park).
  12. The knife is one of the possible murder weapons in the boardgame Clue.
  13. “That’s not a knife. This is a knife.” A line from Crocodile Dundee. (See the scene on YouTube.)
  14. “Chefs do that”: A line from the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight. Geena Davis plays an amnesiac with no memory of her past life as an assassin. When she discovers her skill with knives, she briefly thinks she must have been a chef. Then she throws a knife and skewers a tomato against the wall, saying “chefs do that.” (You can see at least part of the scene in the trailer on YouTube.)
  15. knife throwing: a sport involving throwing knives at a target. (The goal is to hit the target with the point of the knife, not, for instance, the handle.)
  16. knife throwing act: involves a performer throwing knives around a person, with the goal of not impaling the person. Somewhat ironically considered an “impalement art.” Here’s an example of a mother throwing knives at her little kids in the 50s:
  17. knifehand strike: a martial arts strike using the “blade” of the hand (not the palm or a fist), and sometimes called a “karate chop.”
  18. “In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife.” A famous line from a 1970s commercial for the Ginsu knife.

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.
spoon_psf

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.)