A nice apple-sized knob will be on my shin tomorrow, since I barked it against a big piece of lumber we were dragging to the trash. “Barked” is the word you use when something hits your shin, but only if you’re the one who hit it, not the other way around. If you’re standing still and something strikes your shin, you have not been barked. You do the barking. Or am I thinking of another word? The dictionary has no definitions for bark beyond the cry of a dog and the covering of a tree, and that makes you wonder how many words have such dissimilar definitions.
Other cultures have different words for the sound a dog makes; I wonder if a culture that says dogs say “whuah whuah” also have a sound-alike word that means “crushed ice,” or something equally far from dog sounds. Then again, we don’t have a word for “Crushed ice,” just “crushed ice.” There’s slush, but that’s not necessarily crushed, even though they have the same Ush. As does Mush. “They struggled through a mush of crushed-ice slush,” you could say if you were writing a young-adult novel that was the 47th in a series about Warrior Cats, and you just didn’t care anymore, and it didn’t matter anyway because the kids bought them no matter what.
The wood against which the shin was barked was the plank that led up to the Rainbow Playset upper level. Which reminds me of a story in the paper this morning about the new trend to spiff up your pontoon boat. The particle used “Primo” in the headline, which has now made it from 70s dope lingo to the mainstream, and it also featured a pirate-themed pontoon that had a sign warning lubbers: they shall be made to walk the plank.
Which was a way of killing someone, of course, and when you think about it, plank-walking was intended entirely to provide amusement to the onlookers. It’s not as if you’re being gradually tossed off the ship. It’s not as if you’re being slowly winched into your watery grave. You have to get out on the plank, and then someone pokes you with a sword, and you go forward while the miserable hooting scurvy-ridden criminals on deck hoot and shout and laugh it up, until over you go. And we celebrate pirates. It’s like finding people have decorated their pontoons with racks for extracting confessions of heresy.
You knew what I mean when I said “Lubbers,” right? Land-lubbers, the scornful piratical term for those who are not acquainted with the ways of the sea. They love the land, they are land-lovers, and it got converted to “Lubber.” Right? The dictionary says it was originally “lobre,” but gives no other explanation other than it’s connected with the Scandinavian term “Lob,” which means to throw. So it’s not a corruption of “Lover.” Or it is. No idea.
ANYWAY. The Rainbow play-set, which has been creaking ominously for a few years, will be disassembled entirely next spring, and out goes a mainstay of the backyard. I think she was four when we got it? When she sat on the floor looking out the back window as it was put up, and said “I thiiiink that’s for me.” It had a steering wheel and a spyglass up in the treehouse portion. So they could play pirates.
Never occurred to me that I’d be hauling it down one piece at a time some day.
There was a swingset and jungle gym in our backyard in Fargo. Folks bought it on a trip to the big city, at Southdale. When I grew up and went away it was moved to the back of the yard, in the bushes, where it sat like an artifact of an ancient civilization overgrown by the jungle.
About those series of books about Warrior Cats: Daughter read them all until she got wise to their gimmick: they’d never end. Quests and prophecy and so on unto eternity. There was a spin-off that concerned bears. Meh. Her mercenary instincts kicked in and she sold the lot, or so I thought; there was a stack of old books in her room she piled up for another trip to the bookstore, and Scout grabbed a Percy Jackson and chewed it in half.
She was somewhat dismayed, mostly for the resale value, but there was something else. A hint of something else.
“My Childhood,” she said, and if there’d been more ersatz drama I would have laughed. But there was a plaintive tint to her voice.
Bind your stories as ye may, the dog of time shall sunder the spine of all ‘fore long. To quote one of the older, wiser cats. I think he was Slushpaw or something.
There were also Spirit Cats that guided the earthly cats. Moon-Nostril, I think. StarClaw. They helped the mortal cats understand the Prophecy. It was all about good and evil in the end, and that’s instructive for kids. They’re drawn to it. The evil tantalizes and unnerves, and the Good reassures and provides an end-point to the miseries and struggles. When Good Triumphs, the story ends.
But evil never learns its lesson, and Good never seems to learn the lesson that evil never learns its lesson. Thus humanity finds its experience summed up in a shampoo bottle instruction: rinse, repeat. Yet now and then we learn something, and change something, and our lives are a bit more lustrous, and manageable.
That was a shampoo ad word I recall from previous era: it made your hair manageable. I can’t imagine anyone ever saying their hair was “Much more manageable,” unless they were Medusa and had taken to washing with serpent tranquilizer.
A while ago I opened the laptop and said “I’ve no idea what to say, but I’m going to write 1000 words anyway.
That is what I did, and now I’m done.
Commercial archeology, domestic nomenclature division: first, some dialogue that made me sit up. From Peg Lynch's "Couple Next Door" - but you knew that.
First: I mention CND, but it was the extension of its predecessor, "Ethel and Albert." The CND shows were half the length, which I think worked quite well. What had been a half-hour story could be extended to five 15-minute segments, and that gave her some room to stretch. I bring this up to show the difference between late 40s culture, at least on the radio, and late 50s culture. Let's listen to the themes.
E&A Theme 1949: Let's pack in all the domestic melodies we can into one intro.
CND Theme 1958 What a difference a decade makes.
Now, some clips - and listen to these as though you still remembered the heavier, sweeter, more cloying sound of the previous decade's cues.
CND Cue #449 Let's just enjoy the jauntyness. Familiar? Sure. Who cares
CND Cue #450 I know, I know, I've played this one before; it has those early Mahler strings, but I've never heard it go into birdsong before now.
And you're not really keeping track, are you.
CND Cue #451 That fast swooping theme again; music for an indecisive bird.
CND Cue #452 Another old favorite, perfect for walking along on a sunny morn. We hear a bit more of this than ever before. Complete with chortle.
Continuing the series of less-impressive but always instructive X-Minus 1 sci-fi music cues: just a couple.
X-Minus 1 Cue #72 Another cue that should be from an early 70s Gerry Anderson sci-fi show.
X-Minus 1 Cue #73 A perfect 40s Film noir cue - and it fit the futuristic story.
Our favorite minor tranquilizer, quieter of jangly nerves. But: