E is for eating

Nobody spotted the dwarf yesterday, eh? Pity, such a sweet little one, I wonder where George found him. Now for advent calendar day 5:

“Eat your words!” (Nimm alles zurück!) ... and Milo does. The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) takes him into a parallel world where you have to eat words to use them. — I’m always nibbling on mine.

Highlights from the book: Milo meets the Whether Man (“for after all it’s more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be”),  and picks up a watchdog named Tock (who has a giant alarm clock for a body). Milo and Tock then set off toward the Mountains of Ignorance to rescue the twin Princesses, Rhyme and Reason. In jail, they meet a Which named Faintly Macabre, who used to pick which words were used for which purpose. But she was a very bad which, because she decided to keep all the good words for herself.

Also see the review by Gregory McNamee

D is for devil

“I’m caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.” When you’re faced with two dangerous alternatives, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

An earlier version of the idea of being caught between evil and the sea is found in Homer’s Odyssey, where Odysseus is caught between Scylla (a six-headed monster) and Charybdis (a whirlpool). Well, Circe helped him get through those straits alive.

So luck and love help. So does a little music, like the song by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler (lyrics), written for a musical called Rhyth-mania at The Cotton Club in 1931 and performed by Cab Calloway:

“I should hate you
But I guess I love you
You’ve got me in between
The devil and the deep blue sea”

It’s covered here by George Harrison:

C is for curiosity

“Curiosity killed the cat.” This phrase has always bothered me, as I am a naturally inquisitive person. So imagine my delight in finding that the original phrase in Tudor England was in fact “Care killed the cat”, meaning that worry and sorrow did the animal in. (Source)

So out with worry and in with natural curiosity. Of course, your curiosity can kill other things, like hard drives… or in the case of Simon’s Cat (whom I met on Dagmar’s blog), lamps and curtains. Oh, well, that’s just collateral damage!

B is for bed

“As you make your bed, so you must lie in it.” Or: “You made your bed, now sleep in it.” (Wie man sich bettet, so liegt man.) This is rather moralizing, don’t you think? Unless, of course, you’re Gianna Nannini singing Kurt Weill. Anyhow, life sometimes lets you get up and remake the bed, and sometimes it even gives you boards and nails to build a new one from scratch.

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, weathy and wise.” (Benjamin Franklin) (Morgenstund’ hat Gold im Mund.) This saying works quite well if you’ve begun experiencing senile insomnia, like me. But oh, those poor souls who just don’t feel like getting out of bed before daybreak…

My favorite bed quote? “And so to bed…” (Samuel Pepys)  Yes! Rolling home!

A is for apples

Advent is here, and here comes my advent calendar, based on the alphabet and my favorite sayings.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This seems to be based on the olde English saying, “Ate an apfel avore gwain to bed, make the doctor beg his bread.”

“It’s as American as apple pie.” Did you know that when we speak of the “upper crust” of society, or rich folks, that is actually a term connected to apple pie?  Since apples were cheap, but lard or butter were expensive, people would save on the crust and just make an open pie. If you could afford the upper crust, well, that’s what you were. (source) A second possible explanation is that in a traditional manor house oven, the bottom crust of a pie might have been burnt, but the top would be perfect, so the bottom was for the servants, while the top was for the masters. (source)