Friday, December 25, 2009

Year-end Fun-AT-tix and More Same Song Titles

Fun-AT-tix is my wordplay on phonetics, but I'm also using the base syllable "phon-" to talk about homophones. (I wrote about homophones in a previous article.). I wanted to use "fun@tix", but I have a feeling the blogspot would have an issue with the "@" sign in the article title.

The first part of this article is about homophones in year-end holiday songs and/or their lyrics. (Well, the words completely or closely approach homophones anyway.) I think a lot of songs are probably so popular and ingrained in many of us that we don't consider the possibilities of different spellings of words. I've listed some songs below for rumination. (Christmas-song midi files are available at

Note: People who are poor spellers or ESLers might consider NOT looking to this article as a learning tool for correct spelling. :-)
  • Santa Claws Is Cumin to Town (Sandy Claws has been done to death.)
  • Gin Gull Bells
  • Sy Lent Knight
  • O Holey Knight (also spellable as O Wholly Knight)
  • O Little Town of Beth La Hem
  • A Way in a Manger
  • Hark the Harold Angels Sing (The actual title makes me think of Shelly Fabares' Johnny Angel from 1962.)
  • Rudolph the Red Knows Rain, Dear
  • Angels We Have Herd on High
  • Joy to the Whirled

One holiday song that has long mystified me for title strangeness has been Angels We Have Heard on High. The title appears ONCE in the entire song, yet "Gloria" is sung repeatedly, extendedly (glo, o-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o-o, ree-yuh) and often. In talking about "Gloria", I'm now revisiting songs that have the same titles but are different songs ("Same Song Titles, Different Songs"), for which I wrote an October article. In keeping with the holiday theme for now, the following songs fulfill both holiday and non-holiday categories:

Gloria by Van Morrison/Them (1963) is actually titled rationally; there is no doubt who or what the main thought is—"Glo-ree-a. G-L-O-R-I-A, …" and on and on and on. Laura Brannigan's version (1982) has "Gloria" throughout the song, also leaving no doubt as to the topic name. As for Angels We Have Heard on High, "Gloria" gets a lot more air time than the actual song title's words. I say rename the song to Gloria and really confuse people!

Joy to the World
Joy to the World by Three Dog Night (1971) dominated the rock and roll airwaves and took over JTTW consciousness for awhile. In one Christmas special I saw many years ago, a group of elderly people were introduced to sing Joy to the World. Instead of the religious version, they launched into "JER-I-MY-AH WAS A BULL-FROG, WAS A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, …", etc. Wish I could remember what the show was or could easily find it on youtube. Hilarious and entertaining!

Auld Lang Syne/Same Old Lang Syne
Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg (1980) is a bittersweet song that actually contains a pastiche of Auld Lang Syne as delivered by most bands on New Year's Day (popularized by Guy Lombardo).

Now, on to the rest of Same Song Titles, Different Songs, Part 2—non-holiday songs.

Candy Man/Candyman
For people who hear the song and pay less attention to whether it is one word or two, aurally, it's three sound memes—can-dee-man. The notable versions are from Roy Orbison (1961), Sammy Davis, Jr. (1972, song used in original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), Christina Aguilera (2007), and Aqua (1997, song AKA Lollipop, not to be confused with Chordettes' Lollipop from 1958 or Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop from 1964).

Both the Association's version (1966) and Kool and the Gang's version (1985) are slow, with love and devotion lyrics. The Association version indicates a silent sufferer, however, contrasted to KATG's version of public pronouncements.

Neil Sedaka (1965) and Bobby Hebb (1966) both sing of rain and pain, then of love. Two very different styles for similar themes, Neil's is very melodic and Bobby's has jazzy arrangements.

Color My World
Two songs with the same song title could hardly be more different from each other. Petula Clark's peppy, horns-laden version from 1967 contrasts with Chicago's slow, flutey version from 1970.

Peggy Lee (1958) might have the best-known version, also popularized by the McCoys (1965) and Rita Coolidge (1973). Recently, Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert separately recorded and released Lady Gaga's version.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Gadgets to Inspire or Not

Over the years during the holiday season, I have smiled bemusedly at gadgets hawked on TV as prospective gifts. Thoughts that popped up in my mind have usually been one or more of the following:

  • Really? A saucepan would work, and most people already have one.
  • Gee, another appliance to take up shelf, cupboard, or drawer space.
  • Does that gadget really work?
  • [price, usually ending in .99] sure seems like a lot for what that thing is supposed to do.

Gadgets in the past that trigger one or more of my above thoughts include the hot dog cooker, hamburger cooker, butter melter, toaster-sized deep fryer, and rotisserie. I admit I succumbed to having bought a deep fryer and a rotisserie (different times). The deep fryer is long gone, it never seeming to have delivered goods as expected. An additional concern was what to do with the excess oil. I donated it so long ago, I don't remember much about the oil or device anymore. As for the rotisserie, it had great promise, especially for roasting turkeys under 10 pounds. The key is "10 pounds". Almost NEVER have I found such a peewee turkey in a store.

My most recent turkey experience with the rotisserie was maybe two years ago, when I trimmed some turkey body parts to make it weigh under 10 pounds. The cooking process was underwhelming. The turkey was eventually too big around to gracefully fit in the rotisserie cavity, circumference-wise. After some time of the turkey rotating and roasting, the meat contracted lengthwise but its girth expanded, which exposed the imbalance of my insertion of the spit into the turkey. (Spit—funny name for the turkey immobilizer, as spit also means to eject [something] from the mouth—also, the action's output.) The meat began bumping and thumping the window door until the cooking time finished (whirr, thud, thump, whirr, thud thump, ...).

My roast method now includes placing the turkey on a turkey lifter that's inside a 16-inch diameter cake pan, parking a meat thermometer in it, than roasting according to recommended time and temperature for its weight. (I admit, I also own a pair of poultry lifters , which I have used occasionally but forgot to last month.)

Two electric versions of products I saw advertisements for recently were an electric cookie gun and electric wine bottle opener. They are real products, but they make me think of the gag gift Spencer's used to sell—the electric fork. Anyway, I can't see myself foregoing elbow grease to get electric versions of a cookie gun or wine bottle opener.

Anyway, as I was in my local drugstore waiting for my photo order for outgoing greeting cards, I used the half-hour wait time to browse a merchandise area for gadgets. I felt I hit some sort of jackpot. Not only were these items amusing to me, but they neatly fit into the 99¢-effect pricing, which I blogged about in November.

I am omitting urls for the products I have listed below, as readers, if they want to acquire additional details, should research to satisfy their own satisfactions, including finding product reviews and price comparisons. For many of the products, the premises and/or prices leave me speechless and commentless.

Point 'n Paint
(wholesale distributor, IDEA Village; $19.99)
The package states "No tape" and "Paint entire room in less than an hour". (Please, no heckling about the text case.)

Save a Blade Automatic Razor Sharpener
(distributor, Exceptional Products Inc.; $19.99)
The package says "up to 200 shaves from a single blade".

Emjoi Tweeze (distributor, Tristar Products, Inc., $19.99)
This item comes with 2 AA batteries. The packaging states "Easily removes facial hair except eyebrows".

Touch N Brush Hands-Free Toothpaste Dispenser
(distributor, Allstar Products Group, Inc.; $19.99)
No electricity. No batteries.

Set of 12 Bottle Tops Turn Your Drink Can Into A Bottle
(Tele Brands, $9.99)
Packaging states "Snap top onto standard cans" and "Keeps Carbonation Longer".

One Touch Hands Free Can Opener
(distributor, Harvest Direct; $19.99)
You place the unit on top of a can, after ensuring that you have inserted 2 AA batteries ("sold separately"), then press the button. The opener walks around in a circle. Actually, I used to own an electrical can opener, which had long ago departed for the great scrap heap in the sky. Can't say I miss it. Besides making do with a hand-crank opener occasionally, I see that many cans these days have pull tabs, further reducing the need for using an opener.

Emson Egg Genie
(distributor, Emson; $19.99)
With this appliance, you can cook up to 7 eggs at one time. Eh, I always thought a saucepan was versatile enough.

The hamburger cooker of yore seems to have evolved into two newer types to reflect a more recent selling of hamburgers—the "slider". The gadgets I ran across were the Big City Slider Station and the Chicago Slider. (I think previous name attempts have been "mini-burger" and Burger King's "Burger Buddies". )

Chicago Slider
(distributor, East West Distributing; $19.99)
This gadget makes four square burgers and uses electricity. Scoop meat into the cavities, close the clamshell lid, cook.

Big City Slider Station
(distributor, Harvest Direct; $19.99)
This gadget makes five round burgers and uses a stove top. Scoop meat into the cavities, press down with its mating part, cook.

As I have all the equipment I think I need now, I'm short of cabinet space for new gadgets, I'm skeptical of them working, and I prefer to spend the money on other items, I hope Santa isn't inspired to bring me any of the items I recently spotted and listed. Maybe I'll ask for things not available in stores or online. Can't tell; otherwise, wishes might not come true. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Color N R Lives

Colors make their ways into many facets of our lives. They have strong associations with moods and emotions. They also appear frequently in names, particularly surnames. When they're associated with specific nouns, they often conjure up images.

Color first names don't seem common. Blanca, Blanche, and Bianca are all variations of foreign words for white (feminine). Notable names include actress Blanca Guerra, fictional character Blanche DuBois, and actress Bianca Jagger, Mick's ex-wife. Other color first names include Gray, as in Gray Davis, former California governor, and some Reds, as in Red Skelton, Red Adair (oil-well firefighter whose given first name is Paul), and Redd Foxx. (OK, so Redd has two d's.) Color surnames are a lot more common—Black, White, Gray, Green (and Greene), Brown, Blue, Gold, Golden come to mind.

Moods and emotions have numerous color associations—Blue Monday, blues music, having the blues, purple with rage, red-faced (rage, embarrassment), green (envy), yellow (cowardice), ashen (shock), white (fear, shock), gray day (somber day), black day (depressing day), Black Friday (3 definitions), black heart (negativity)

Green is versatile for associations besides mood or emotion (envy). It also has associations for the following characteristics: green around the gills (nauseated), green (inexperienced), greenhorn (noun form). Related to characteristics, we often differentiate figures and teams by colors of clothing or uniforms. Depending on whom you're favoring, color can become a positive or negative visual stimulus. An archetype for clothing color association is hat color—white vs. black. In the case of white and black hats, they even have iconic positive and negative connotations.

Moving on to color and "people", color-associated characters or personas evoke images, such as the following examples: Blue Meanies, Jolly Green Giant, Yella Fella, White Knight, Black Knight, Blue Santa, Brown Santa, Bluebeard, Blackbeard, blueblood, Blackhawk (helicopter).

At this point, I am segueing to "colorful" comic book characters. For those who want to reach back to their inner child, comicvine offers great revisits to favorite names in addition to the colorful ones I've listed as follows: Blackhawk, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Green Goblin, Silver Surfer.

In a similar vein about comic book characters, there are several who do not have "green" in their names, but appear green-themed—Loki (Thor's brother), Cobra, the Incredible Hulk, J'onn J'onzz (Martian Manhunter), Brainiac, and Brainiac 5.

A pastel color with associations—some of them characters—is pink: the singer Pink, Pink Lady drink, Pink Lady apple, Pinky (of Pinky and the Brain) , being in the pink, pinky (finger), pinking shears, pinko, and pink elephant .

BTW, a pink elephant is not related to a white elephant.

The economic association with colors contrasts with the electronic association:

  • Economic—black (positive numbers, good), red (negative numbers, bad)
  • Electronics (car batteries)—black (ground), red (positive voltage)

Related to electronics and color is the resistor color code—BBROYGBVGW (black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, gray, white), for which acronymnfinder lists several mnemonics.

Silver, and especially gold, are metals (noun) and colors (adjective) that connote value, desirability, and other positive characteristics:

  • Silver screen, silver spoon (born with a silver spoon, IOW, a great orator)
  • Heart of gold, pot of gold, golden parachute, golden rule, golden years, streets paved with gold

Economics and politics are closely associated. Green is tied to both economics (greenbacks) and politics (environmentalism as a movement, reuse, recycling, etc.). Red, blue, and purple connote political leanings if shown on a map of the US, especially around election times.

Orange u glad to read about color associations here?

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