Category Archives: ThThTh

down the rabbit hole

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.)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) A movie combining live action and cartoon characters, one of whom is a rabbit.
  • Harvey (1950) A movie starring Jimmy Stewart and a 6-foot-tall invisible rabbit.
  • Little Rabbit Foo-foo/Little Bunny Foo-foo. A folk song. …hopping through the forest. Scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head…
  • The Bunny Hop: a conga-line type dance involving hopping
  • Rabbits are popular anthropomorphic characters in children’s literature, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit and others by Beatrix Potter, or Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.
  • 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
  • Other stories feature bunny-shaped toys, such as The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, or the more recent Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems.
  • The Easter Bunny: a rabbit said to bring colorful eggs and candy for children on Easter.
  • Here comes Peter Cottontail: a song about the Easter Bunny. (…hopping down the bunny trail…hippity hoppity...)
  • Cheddar Bunnies: rabbit-shaped snack crackers.
  • 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…)

Image sources: Book cover for Watership Down, movie poster for Harvey, Peter Rabbit, Bugs Bunny, TV with antenna, Binky, Bongo, and John Tenniel’s illustration of the White Rabbit.

10 Ten things for 10/10/10

Here it is, October 10th, 2010. Or 10/10/10. How could I resist making a list?¹ Here are 10 “ten” things:

  1. 10: the number of fingers of a typical human
  2. decimal system: the base 10 system of numbers, the numeric system most commonly used in the world, likely due to people liking to count on their fingers
  3. a scale of 1 to 10: used to rate various things, from degree of pain to physical attractiveness, or athletic performance, such as olympic gymnastics
  4. a perfect 10: an expression meaning that the entity to which the expression is applied has achieved the highest score possible, particularly when the scale is of something positive.
  5. Perfect 10” a song by The Beautiful South [on youtube]
  6. 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.)
  7. 10: the start of many countdowns, and either the beginning or end of various counting rhymes, counting games and counting songs, such as “The Ants Go Marching,” “10 in the Bed,” and “10 Little Indians
  8. The 10 Commandments: a list of (10) religious rules from the Old Testament, and a 1956 movie based on the same
  9. 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.

  10. 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:

So, there you go. 10 ten things.²
—–

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.

Images from WP Clipart.

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.

tin

  1. tin: a metal “Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (Latin: Stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table.”
  2. tin toys: classic toys made of tin
  3. Tin Toy(1988): an early Pixar short film featuring animate toys and a drooly baby
  4. tintype: a early type of photograph printed on metal (typically iron) plates
  5. Tintin: a character from a series of comic books
  6. Rin Tin Tin: a German Shepard (or several) of fiction and TV
  7. Pushing Tin (1999) A movie about air traffic controllers starring John Cusack
  8. tin: another name for a can used to hold food, e.g. a tin of beans
  9. tin foil: what aluminum foil is commonly called
  10. tin: a traditional material for gifts in honor of a 10th wedding anniversary

Had I been more organized, many of those items might have made good gifts to get John for our 10th anniversary. Which is today. Instead, I may have to give him a wad of aluminum foil and a tin of green beans.

Happy anniversary, John!

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.

the swine flew

“Thinking again?” the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little chin.
“I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried.
“Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly….”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 9.

Everyone knows that pigs can’t fly.

Except, of course, when they do. And fly they do, in all sorts of lore and literature, song and show, and even in a few airborne vessels. This ThThTh list is hog-wild for the swine of the skies.

A list of flying pigs

  • when pigs fly: an expression by which a speaker can convey the opinion that a given event will never happen. As in “this blog will be awarded a Pulitzer when pigs fly.”
  • when pigs grow wings: an expression that means “when pigs fly”
  • Pigs Have Wings, by P.G. Wodehouse. A book by the author of the Jeeves and Wooster series.
  • Flying Pig: a character on Kids in the Hall, portrayed by Bruce McCulluch. He is a winged pig who flies and “entertains people at bank-machines and other of life’s many lineups.” (See him in flight on YouTube.)

    flying pig kith

  • Pigasus: various references to winged pigs. The name plays on Pegasus (a winged horse)
  • Cincinnati: this city has adopted a winged pig as a mascot. The city has a Flying Pig Marathon.
  • pb125575

    A flying pig mug I bought at the Cincinatti airport.

  • references to flying pigs are used in many different business such as restaurants and art galleries . I’ve bought bread adorned with a winged pig from a bakery called When Pigs Fly. There’s evenFlying Pig Eyewear.
  • logo 111 flyingpig f

  • winged pigs have become so ubiquitous as to be commonly used for decoration, such as adorning weathervanes
  • “Pigs on the Wing”, a song by Pink Floyd
  • The first recorded pig flight took place in England in 1909. (source)

    The first historically recorded flight of a pig took place on British soil, at Leysdown in Kent in 1909. The pig was carried aloft by J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon, later the First Lord Brabazon of Tara, in his personal French-built Voisin aero plane.

    The pig was placed into a wicker basket, which was in turn strapped to a wing strut of the aero plane. A hand-lettered sign attached to the basket read: ‘I am the first pig to fly.’ Brabazon purposefully carried the pig aloft, thereby disproving the long help opinion that ‘pigs can not fly.’

  • More recently another flying pig made the news after a flight on a commercial airline
  • piscrew pigs in spaceship

  • Pigs in Space: these pigs from the Muppet Show have mastered not just flight, but space flight.

  • ad astra per alia porci: Steinbeck’s motto “To the stars on the wings of a pig” (found via the blog On Pig’s Wings, taking its name “from Steinbeck, whose motto, described his status as a ‘lumbering soul but trying to fly.'” )
  • Can’t get enough flying pigs? Lots more about them can be found at Porkopolis, a website devoted to all things porcine. Be sure to check posts in the category “flight,” and the informative post A Brief History of Pigs and Flight. Flying pigs have their own Wiki page, too.

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.