In recent weeks, a baby polar bear at the Berlin Zoo has caused a worldwide stir. Knut, as he’s called, was rejected by his mother at an early age, and has since been hand-reared by zoo staff. This situation has spurred some opponents to the hand-rearing of wild animals to comment that it would be more humane to kill Knut than for him to be overly influenced by humans. Despite these protests, the Berlin Zoo has decided to keep Knut alive. While hand-rearing may be controversial, many zoos do raise animals in this way. Here are a few examples:
April 9, 2007
April 6, 2007
Although Easter is a Christian holiday, many of the traditions that have built up around it have their origins in earlier pagan celebrations of spring. That is why many of the sweet treats associated with Easter seem to have no connection to the Christian Easter story. However, since many of these goodies are symbolic of fertility and new life, they are now seen as having a connection to the new life/resurrection aspect of Easter. Here are a few of my favorite fertility-themed treats:
- Cadbury Creme Eggs: Eggs are an obvious symbol of new life and fertility.
- Cadbury Mini Eggs: Eggs again.
- Chocolate Bunnies: Representing the rapidly-reproducing rabbit.
- Jellybeans: Linked to Easter because they are egg-shaped.
- Marshmallow Peeps: Baby chicks are often seen as a sign of spring.
- Whoppers Robin Eggs: Yet another egg connection.
April 4, 2007
I’ve recently started a blog about introverts; in addition to sharing my own experience, I write about various topics pertaining to introverts in general. In a recent post, I brought up the fact that there are many famous actors and actresses who are introverts, a phenomenon I can’t fully explain.
I can’t prove that there is something about being an introvert that gives aspiring actors and actresses an advantage, but judging from the illustrious names on this list, it can’t hurt.
- Joan Allen
- Candice Bergen
- Ellen Burstyn
- Glenn Close
- Clint Eastwood
- Harrison Ford
- Tom Hanks
- Helen Hunt
- Diane Keaton
- Jessica Lange
- Laura Linney
- Steve Martin
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Michelle Pfeiffer
- Julia Roberts
- Meg Ryan
- Meryl Streep
- Noah Wyle
Source: The Introvert Advantage
March 29, 2007
In Western countries, April 1st has long been celebrated as April Fools’ Day, an opportunity to play tricks on others and to suspend seriousness for a short period of time. As it turns out, there are other holiday traditions that nearly coincide with the beginning of April; some have suggested that the start of spring in the Northern hemisphere may have an influence on these playful and light-hearted celebrations.
- Holi (March): This festival in India is dedicated to the Hindu Demoness, Holika, and is marked by celebrants throwing colored powder and water over each other, and the usual social distinctions of caste, sex, status, and age are set aside for its duration.
- Purim (March): Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrating the triumph of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai over the evildoer Haman, and often involves games, costumes, and joyful noisemaking. Christopher Guest’s 2006 movie, For Your Consideration, focuses on the making of a fictional film called “Home for Purim.”
- Hilaria (March 25): On March 25th, ancient Romans observed Hilaria, a day marking the resurrection of the god Attis and also honoring his mother, Cybele, on which Romans conducted games, masquerades, and other revelries.
- Poisson d’Avril (April 1): Literally, “fish of April,” this French version of April Fools’ Day involves pinning paper cut-outs of fish on other peoples’ backs, thus making them the “Poisson d’Avril,” or a fish so young and foolish that it is easily caught.
- Taily Day (April 1): Also known as “Hunting the gowk” in Scotland, those who are tricked are known as “April-gowks,” or cuckoos.
March 26, 2007
There is a long tradition in monasteries of manufacturing products that are sold locally, or more widely, in order to support the life of the community. Since they are usually self-contained, this type of business can ensure their financial independence. In addition, many religious orders see great value in pursuing hands-on work that complements the more contemplative aspects of their vocation. Here are five examples of this dynamic in action.
- Bourbon Fruitcake/Bourbon Fudge/Cheese: The Abbey of Gethsemani, in Trappist, Kentucky, was home to the well-known spiritual writer Thomas Merton for most of his life. This community now supports itself through the sale of bourbon fruitcake, bourbon fudge, and various kinds of cheese, through its business, Gethsemani Farms.
- Chartreuse: This classic herbal liqueur, produced for centuries by monks of the Carthusian order is now bottled in Voiron, France, near the site of the order’s first and most prominent monastery, La Grande Chartreuse.
- Hams/Bacon/Canadian Bacon/Smoked Turkey: The monks and nuns of New Skete, an Eastern Orthodox monastic community in upstate New York, specialize in smoked meat products, as well as cheesecake and cheese.
- Toner and Ink Cartridges: The monks of Our Lady of Spring Bank Cistercian Abbey in Sparta, Wisconsin, have an online business, LaserMonks.com, selling toner, ink cartridges and other office supplies.
- Wooden Coffins: Handcrafted by the monks of the New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa, the sale of these wooden caskets provides income for the community.
March 23, 2007
There are innumerable types of cheeses in the world, and while I’ve tried many different kinds, I know I’ll never be able to try them all. That said, it’s still fun to make the effort to taste as many as I can. Here are just a few of the intriguing cheeses that caught my eye during a recent visit to Amazon.com.
- Bärlauchrebell/Wild Garlic Cheese: Flavored with wild garlic and other Alpine herbs, this cow’s milk cheese is a tasty treat from Bavaria, Germany.
- Cabot Horseradish Cheddar: This cheddar from Vermont has a special zing, thanks to the addition of spicy horseradish.
- Carr Valley Cocoa Cardona: This goat’s milk cheese from Wisconsin is rubbed with cocoa as it ages.
- Piacentinu: Produced in Sicily, Piacentinu is a sheep’s milk cheese flavored with saffron and peppercorns.
- Tibetan Yak Cheese: Ever wondered what high altitude cheese tastes like? This cheese is produced from (yes, you guessed it) yak’s milk at over 14,000 feet above sea level.
- 4 Pack of Beer Cheese: These cheese spreads are flavored with micro-brew beers: Special Pilsner, Munich Dark, Bavarian Lager, and Wisconsin Amber.
- Cahill’s Farm Cheddar – Irish Whiskey: This semi-soft cheddar from Ireland is flavored with Irish whiskey.
- Four-Pack Wine Cheese: This four pack of cheese spreads includes Merlot Cheddar, Chardonnay Havarti, Cabernet Sauvignon, and White Zinfandel Havarti.
- Red Dragon: This Welsh cheese, also known as Y-Fenni, is a cheddar flavored with mustard seeds and brown ale.
- VODCheese: Made from Swedish PrÃ¤stost cheese soaked in Absolut Vodka, VODCheese is available in Vodka currant, Ginberry, and Pepper flavors.
- Tête de Moine & Girolle: Tête de Moine, which means “Monk’s Head,” is a Swiss cheese with a strong nutty flavor. The best way to slice the cheese is to use a Girolle to produce elegant ruffles and rosettes.
- Wisconsin Shape Cheddar Cheese: This cheese is exactly what it sounds like: Wisconsin cheddar in the shape of the Badger State.
March 21, 2007
In my book Take Control of Mac OS X Backups I mention the existence of several software-plus-online-storage combos that enable Mac users to back up their files to a nice secure server somewhere out there on the net. But I don’t express much enthusiasm about them, because they’re generally quite slow and unreasonably expensive compared to my favorite backup medium, external hard drives.
However, even since the book’s last update in January, the landscape has been changing. New online services are crawling out of the woodwork, old ones are revamping their pricing, and services that formerly supported only Windows are coming up with Mac software. There’s still a speed problem, even with a fast connection, but at least the options are increasing and prices are decreasing.
As of today, here are the options I know about that include both online storage space and backup software that runs on Mac OS X. (I’ve excluded online storage services that can be used for backup only with your own backup software, simply because that would have made the list absurdly long.)
- .Mac*: Apple’s own service comes with a backup program called, inventively enough, Backup. But it’s pricey, at $100 per year for 1 GB of storage space (which you can bump up to as much as 4 GB for an extra $100). If you decide to use .Mac, you will of course want to read my book Take Control of .Mac!
- BackJack*: The oldest online Mac backup service I know of, BackJack has respectable client software and prices that are improved from what they once were, but is still very expensive compared to some of the other options now available. (Example: 50 GB = $257.50 per month, or $120.50 without redundant backups.) The BackJack service is also available via Mac Backups using the same software and at the same price; I’m not sure what the point of that additional brand is.
- Bandwagon: This service is currently for iTunes backups only, though it may expand to cover other data types in the future. As a beta tester, I’ve been underwhelmed, but perhaps they’ll get it together before their next relaunch. Bandwagon uses Amazon.com’s S3 (Simple Storage Service), which charges $0.15 per gigabyte per month plus $0.20 per gigabyte transferred (upload or download). So the maximum cost per month for backing up 50 GB of data would be $17.50. However, you must also pay for the use of the Bandwagon software, which costs $1 to $3 per month, depending on when you order it and which version you get. In the future, they plan to support other online storage services too.
- Clunk Click*: This backup service, located in the United Kingdom, doesn’t make it easy to find their pricing, which starts at £5 (about $9.50) per month for 550 MB of storage up through £40 per month (about $76) for 20 GB, with several other levels available.
- CrashPlan: I covered this newcomer in “Crash Plan: Backups Revisited” (TidBITS 868/26-Feb-07). You get a sophisticated and highly efficient client program, plus inexpensive online storage and the option to use a friend’s computer instead (or in addition). Pricing: 50 GB for $5 per month (with additional storage at $0.10 per gigabyte), plus the price of the software ($20–$60).
- Datatrieve*: Located in the United Kingdom, Datatrieve uses a Java-based client. They charge £5 (about $9.50) per month for 1 GB of storage, and £125 (about $245) per month for 50 GB. Intermediate levels and higher storage quotas are available.
- JungleDisk*: This application (free while in beta testing; $20 eventually) works in conjunction with Amazon.com’s S3, as does Bandwagon. Unlike earlier versions of JungleDisk, which merely gave you access to your S3 space as though it were a conventional network volume, the latest version has some basic backup capabilities built in. No multi-version archives or partial-file incremental backups yet, but supposedly those features on on their way.
- MacBak: This service offers full-blown, multi-version archives, and its aimed primarily at graphics professionals and other creative types. Make that creative types with money: rates start at $89 per month, not counting the $89 setup fee, for 10 GB of new data added each month and a total of 120 GB per year—an odd way of metering. Higher-level (and more expensive) plans use an appliance that sits in your office and provides temporary storage for backups while on their way to the company’s servers, thus adding a layer of security and minimizing the impact of bandwidth bottlenecks.
- MillerNET Protect Online Backup: This service uses a “rebrandable” cross-platform commercial backup tool called Ahsay that’s frankly pretty ugly (especially on a Mac), but functional. It includes partial-file incremental archives (like CrashPlan) and a large number of configuration options. MillerNET offers free 500 MB accounts, and has several pricing tiers ranging from $10 per month to $100 per month (the 50 GB plan costs $70 per month).
- mozy: This online storage service previously offered backup clients only for Windows, but now has (an early beta version of) a Mac client as well. And the price is certainly right: you get 2 GB free, or unlimited storage space for only $5 per month. Early adopters, beware: the current beta is pretty buggy. But if they get the kinks worked out, the pricing is going to make this a very interesting solution.
- Offsite Backup Solutions: Like MillerNET, OSB uses the Ahsay software. But their pricing is less attractive—for example, the monthly cost for 50 GB is $100. They offer a free 30-day demo, but you must provide credit card information up front and manually cancel your account before the 30 days are up to avoid being charged, a practice I consider kind of slimy.
- Prolifix*: Prolifix uses cross-platform, Java-based software. The company charges $9.95 per month for 500 MB of storage and $28.95 per month for 8 GB, with intermediate levels available. (Prices for higher storage quotas available on request.)
- S3 Backup: In the same vein as JungleDisk, S3 Backup uses Amazon.com’s S3 for storage space. Although their Mac software is still in beta testing and still pretty rough, it shows promise. It remains to be seen whether it will support incremental archives and how it will deal with files larger than S3’s 5 GB limit.
Covered in *Take Control of Mac OS X Backups version 2.0.
So what do I recommend? Well, considering price alone, mozy is the clear winner, with CrashPlan a close contender (equivalent in pricing if you’re storing 50 GB or less, and pretty reasonable thereafter). The solutions that use S3 (Bandwagon, JungleDisk, and S3 Backup) benefit from Amazon.com’s pricing—a bit higher, but still respectable. In terms of functionality, none of the inexpensive services can yet match the feature set of conventional backup software, or of the more established online backup services such as BackJack. But they’re getting close. If I had to choose just one of these today, I’d pick CrashPlan, which seems to offer the best compromise. But ask me again tomorrow and I may have a totally different answer—things are changing rapidly.
March 20, 2007
I first fell in love with automatons when I visited the famous Musée Mécanique in San Francisco. At that time it was housed in a dark, low-ceilinged hall right near the beach, but has since moved to the more tourist-oriented Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a great place to visit; for a few quarters you can see how the technology of the past brought these mechanical figures to life. For a virtual version of this experience, check out these YouTube videos of automatons from museums around the world.
Sausage Automaton: Watch this clip from the Museum of Automatons in La Rochelle, France, to see poor porkers being made into sausages.
Skeleton Automaton: Marvin’s Marvelous Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan is a popular destination in the area; check out the creepy insides of this macabre skeleton.
Silver Swan Automaton: At the Bowes Museum in North East England, this historic silver swan, created in 1773 and mentioned in Mark Twain’s book, The Innocents Abroad, is put into operation twice daily, at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Hookah Bar/Opium Den: One of the more gritty scenes brought to life at the Musée Mécanique in San Francisco, California, this mechanical tableau features tiny figures conducting shady business in an undisclosed location.
Bimbo Box: Also from the MusÃ©e MÃ©canique, these highly entertaining monkeys with maracas perform a great number from West Side Story.
Laughing Sal: Although I find a little bit of Sal goes a long way, many people love her infectious and distinctive laugh. A survivor of the long-gone Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park, Sal is now a permanent fixture at the Musée Mécanique.
March 19, 2007
Over the past weekend, the winter storm that hit the East Coast had a big effect on air travel in that area. As with some previous storms this winter, airline passengers were stranded on planes for hours without leaving the ground, sometimes overnight. To help those poor souls stuck in similar situations in the future, here is a list of ways to pass the time while onboard (subject to crew and airline instructions of course).
- Overhead Light Shadow Puppets: Entertain your fellow travelers with your best bunny impression.
- Peanut Research: Follow in the footsteps of George Washington Carver as you find yet another use for this handy honey-roasted legume.
- Airsickness Bag Origami: It’s a bird, it’s a crane…
- Tray Table Tennis: We don’t know how it’s done either, but here’s a hint–the middle person is the net.
- Inflight Satellite Phone Prank Calls: Fool your friends for only $10 a minute!
- SkyMall Catalog Holiday Shopping: Find that perfect gift for the person who has everything except a gold-plated self-cleaning dog dish.
- Peanut Package Toss: The overhead bin makes a perfect basket.
- PA System Karaoke: Reveal your hidden musical talents to the delight of a captive audience.
- Lavatory Stuffing: How many people can you fit before someone hurls?
March 16, 2007
A group of nonprofit organizations called 826 National, which currently has six chapters around the country, teaches writing skills to children. As a way of raising money to support their work, each chapter runs a specially themed storefront operation selling supplies for everyone from superheroes to pirates. (Read more about 826 National at Interesting Thing of the Day.)
The stores (and their associated chapters) are:
- the pirate supply store at 826 Valencia, San Francisco, CA
- Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, Brooklyn, NY (part of 826NYC)
- Echo Park Time Travel Mart (sorry, no Web page), Venice Beach, CA (part of 826LA)
- The Boring Store, Chicago, IL (part of 826CHI)
- Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, Seattle, WA (part of 826 Seattle)
- Monsters Union Local 826, Ann Arbor, MI (part of 826 Michigan
March 15, 2007
St. Patrick’s Day will soon be here with all its colorful traditions, which makes this a good time to look at the legends surrounding the man himself. Most everyone knows some part of St. Patrick’s story, from his expulsion of Ireland’s snakes to his favorite color. However, on closer inspection, some of the commonly held beliefs about St. Patrick don’t stand up to scrutiny. It is doubtful whether young Maewyn Succat from Bannavem of Taburnia ever dreamed that he would one day be toasted the world over on his own special day, or that such stories would be told about his life.
- He was Irish: It is not known exactly where St. Patrick was born; his own writings note his birthplace as “Bannavem of Taburnia,” but this village could be in Scotland, Wales, England, or even the north coast of France.
- His name was Patrick: Patrick was the name he took on when he began his work for the church; some sources claim his birth name was Maewyn Succat.
- He was Catholic: There is some dispute about whether St. Patrick can be considered a Catholic; Protestant scholars note that Patrick wrote about his own beliefs and practices in a way not consistent with the Roman Catholic doctrine of his time. However, there is clear evidence that Patrick was ordained into the Roman church before he began his missionary work.
- He was the first Christian missionary to Ireland: He was not the first, but perhaps the third missionary to Ireland.
- He expelled all the snakes from Ireland: There is no evidence that this happened, and the Catholic church does not claim that it did.
- He used the shamrock to teach people about the Trinity: Again, there is no evidence to support this story; it is most likely apocryphal.
- He is associated with the color green: The original color associated with St. Patrick was blue, and furthermore, for many hundreds of years green was considered an unlucky color in Ireland.
March 14, 2007
Next week, on March 19th, residents of Bali, Indonesia, will celebrate Nyepi, the beginning of their new year. Nyepi, sometimes called the day of silence, is a time when everyone remains indoors and refrains from their regular activities in order to reflect on the past year as well as the year ahead. Many other cultures have similar New Year’s rituals; some silly, some serious, all are concerned with putting the past to rest and ushering in the new year.
- Nyepi (March 19, 2007): On this day, residents of Bali, Indonesia, remain indoors and maintain silence as a means of encouraging self-reflection.
- Songkran (April 13-15, 2007): In recent years this Thai New Year’s celebration has been marked by people throwing water on each other and on vehicles in the streets, a mostly welcome practice since April is the hottest month in Thailand.
- Rosh Hashanah/Jewish New Year (September 12-14, 2007): One of the traditions of Rosh Hashanah is to throw pieces of bread on flowing water to symbolize casting off one’s sins (known as Tashlikh).
- Hogmanay (December 31, 2007): One important aspect of this Scottish New Year’s celebration is the tradition of “first-footing;” it is considered good luck if the first person to cross your threshold in the new year is a dark-haired male, preferably bearing gifts of coal (symbolizing warmth) and salt (symbolizing flavor).
- La Festa di San Silvestro (December 31, 2007): Italians celebrate the new year with special foods and festivities, and sometimes with flying furniture; it is customary in some areas to throw old belongings out the window to symbolize making way for the new year.
- Noche Vieja (December 31, 2007): A fun custom in Spain is to eat twelve grapes, one for each strike of the clock, at midnight.
- Shogatsu/Japanese New Year (January 1, 2008): In Japan, much attention is paid to the “firsts” of the year, including the first sunrise, the first work of the new year, and the first dream of the new year.
- Chinese New Year (February 7, 2008): There are many traditions and practices associated with the Chinese New Year season, which lasts for fifteen days after the New Year begins. One custom is to buy all new clothes to wear, often red in color, as red is believed to keep away bad spirits and bad luck.
March 13, 2007
As previously mentioned, Firefly is without any doubt the best thing ever to have been broadcast on TV. This outer-space western followed the exploits of Captain Mal Reynolds and the crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity, and has attracted a rabid base of fans (or “Browncoats,” as we like to be called) far out of proportion to its brief time on the air. For those who just can’t get enough Firefly, here are eight things you can buy to help scratch that itch:
- Firefly: The Complete Series (DVD): Start here, and watch all the shows in the order they were originally intended to be shown (which is different from the order in which they aired). And enjoy the wonderful special features.
- Firefly (Original Television Soundtrack) by Greg Edmonson contains 25 tracks of music from the series, including the theme song, and is just the thing to have playing in the background while you do some reading…
- Firefly Official Companion, Vol. 1 by Joss Whedon: This book contains scripts, photos, and a wealth of inside information on the show. (No word yet on Volume 2!)
- Serenity: Those Left Behind: This graphic novel by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, and Will Conrad takes place between the TV series and the movie, which brings us to…
- Serenity (DVD): Next, watch the outstanding sequel movie, which makes sense even if you’ve never watched a single Firefly episode (but is better still if you have). Then you’ll want to read…
- Serenity Official Visual Companion: This book by Joss Whedon includes the shooting script for Serenity, an extended interview, and all sorts of other extras.
- Done The Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of Firefly & Serenity: This unusually high-quality fan-produced DVD, hosted by Adam Baldwin (Jayne) and with voiceover by Jewel Staite (Kaylee), documents the life of the show and movie from the viewers’ point of view.
- Finally, Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly: This book of essays about the Firefly/Serenity phenomenon, including one by Jewel Staite, provides a different set of perspectives on the show.
March 12, 2007
Learning to play a musical instrument can be quite daunting; not only do you need to know how to change the pitch in a musical way, but also how to physically manipulate the sound of the instrument. The following instruments are easy to learn because they simplify one or the other (or both) of these requirements.
- Chorded Zither: Also known as an autoharp, the chorded zither is played by strumming a set of strings while pushing one of several buttons; each button dampens a certain set of strings to produce a distinctive chord. Although it is easy to learn, expert players can create more advanced sounds with this instrument.
- Clackamore: A new variation on the jaw harp (see below), this instrument is both melodic and percussive.
- Freenotes: Developed especially for beginning musicians, these percussion instruments inspired by Indonesian gamelan music feature simple tuning so that any notes played will be in harmony with each other.
- Jaw Harp: Also known as a Jew’s harp, or mouth harp, this instrument is played by plucking a “tongue” whose sound is amplified by being held against one’s teeth or lips.
- Kazoo: Kazoos belong to the family of instruments called mirlitons, which modify the sound of the human voice by means of a vibrating membrane (its most simple form is a comb covered in tissue paper). Kazoos are easy to play because you just hum into them to produce a sound.
- Strumstick: This three-stringed instrument is a cross between a guitar and a dulcimer, and only plays notes of a major scale (diatonic scale) so it always sounds in tune.
March 9, 2007
Starting this Sunday (March 11) at 2 A.M., most residents of the U.S. and Canada will set their clocks forward one hour in observance of the start of Daylight Saving Time. This is a change for 2007, since in previous years DST started the first Sunday in April. However, there are many regions in the U.S., Canada and the rest of the Americas that do not observe Daylight Saving Time for one reason or another.
- Rio Grande do Norte
Canada (Provinces and Territories):
- Several regions of British Columbia
- Nunavut (Southampton Island)
USA (States and Territories):
- American Samoa
- Puerto Rico
- U.S. Virgin Islands
March 8, 2007
- By George! A modernized version of “by Jove!” (in other words, Jupiter).
- For Pete’s Sake! A softer form of “for God’s sake” or “for Christ’s sake,” supposedly a reference to St. Peter.
- For the Love of Mike! Slightly less popular, according to Google, than “for the love of Pete!” but Pete’s already made the list, so I thought I should send some love the way of St. Michael.
- Godfrey Daniels! I’d never heard of this before, but it’s a kinder, gentler way of saying “God damn.”
- Jesus ((H.) Christ)! Probably the most commonly used expression on this list (in one form or another), despite Commandment #3 (#2 if you’re Catholic or Lutheran)
- Great Scott! According to one theory, this is a folk etymology of the German Gruess Gott (Greet God).
- Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! Frequently misspelled as “Jehosaphat,” this expression apparently originated as a way to avoid saying “Jesus.”
March 7, 2007
Today on Interesting Thing of the Day I wrote about the Chinook winds of the Western US and Canada. There are many other famous winds around the world; below are a few of the best-known ones. If I haven’t included your favorite, feel free to add it in the comments section.
- Bora: Adriatic, Greece, Russia, Turkey
- Brickfielder: Australia
- Chinook: Western USA and Canada
- Föhn: Central Europe (the Alps)
- Halny: Carpathian mountains
- Hamsin: Middle East
- Harmattan: West Africa
- Mistral: Southern France and Italy
- Monsoon: South Asia
- Santa Ana: Southern California
- Sirocco: North Africa and Southern Europe
March 6, 2007
I first became interested in the phenomenon of pubs with names that contain two nouns (e.g., Crown and Anchor) when I visited Oxford a few years ago. Some combinations seemed natural, like Fox and Hounds, while others left me scratching my head (Angel and Greyhound).
There are various explanations for these puzzling names, including the idea that early publicans distinguished their establishments from similarly-named ones by adding a unique second name. Also, as Bill Bryson points out in his 1990 book, The Mother Tongue, some of these compound names could be corruptions of the original names, such as Elephant and Castle (Infanta de Castille), Pig and Whistle (Peg and Wassail), and Dog and Bacon (Dorking Beacon). Whatever the case was in the past, there is a new trend of giving pubs self-consciously quirky names, as with the Slug and Lettuce chain of pubs in Britain.
- The Actress and Bishop (Birmingham): This is quite a scandalous pair.
- Adam & Eve (London): With a name like this, you might expect apple cider to be on the menu.
- Angel and Greyhound (Oxford): I don’t know where the name came from, but these two fleet-footed creatures seem to go together.
- The Ape and Apple (Manchester): Do apes eat apples? Try saying that five times fast.
- Black Lion & French Horn (London): This pub is not short on adjectives.
- Bull & Butcher (London): These two seem like unlikely name-fellows.
- Butcher’s Hook & Cleaver (London): At this place you’re sure to have a bloody good time.
- The Cock and Bottle (London): What else needs to be said?
- Dog & Bell (London): I wonder if this pub has any relation to Ivan Pavlov’s famous experiment.
- Eagle and Child (Oxford): Nicknamed The Bird and Baby, this pub was the favored haunt of the Inklings, a writers’ group whose members included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
- Hand & Shears (London): The name of this pub describes the guild sign for the Merchant Tailors of London, sometime proprietors of the pub.
- Lamb & Flag (London): This pub is the oldest in Covent Garden (around 300 years old), and was once known as the Bucket of Blood.
- The Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower (Ashtead): Wonder what’s on the menu?
- The Lion and Lobster (Brighton): Otherwise known as the Surf ‘n’ Savannah special.
- The Newt and Cucumber (Birmingham): Quick, two things that are cold and slimy…
- The Pig & Porcupine (Manchester): Any relation to Porky Pig?
- The Slug & Lettuce: This is actually a chain of pubs, with locations all over the UK.
- The Swan and Cemetery (Bury): Sounds like a cheery place to grab a pint.
- Cat & Fiddle (Los Angeles, CA): According to author Bill Bryson, this popular pub name was originally Caterine la Fidèle. The name for this Hollywood hotspot seems apt, considering many of the staff are musicians.
- Frog & Nightgown (Coquitlam, BC): As long as it’s not “Frog IN Nightgown.”
- Frog and Peach (San Luis Obispo, CA): This spot used to be an ice cream store before becoming a pub, but I hope the name wasn’t inspired by former flavors of icy treats.
March 5, 2007
2007 seems to be the year for “3” movies; not only films with “3” in the title (e.g., 300, The Number 23), but also for those that are third in a series. Here are seven of them, listed in order of their release date.
March 2, 2007
Just recently I was listening to a Peter, Paul and Mary album, and realized how many of their songs involve travel or someone leaving someone else behind (e.g., Leaving on a Jet Plane, Early Morning Rain). More than that, many of their songs mention a mode of transportation in particular. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising considering they made an album in 1963 called Moving.
Planes & Cars: