Friday, October 26, 2007

Charles and Jeremiah , Chupacabra of the Antipodes

Where is the Mason and Dixon line?

What is the diet of the kea?

I learned the answers to these and other riveting questions by flipping through my dictionary and letting my eyes wander, instead of just looking up one word and no more.

From my bedside dictionary:

Mason-Dixon line [Charles Mason English astronomer and Jeremiah Dixon English surveyor]: the southern boundary line of Pennsylvania -- called also Mason and Dixon's line

kea [Maori]: a large predominantly green New Zealand parrot (Nestor notabilis) that is normally insectivorous but sometimes destroys sheep by slashing the back to feed on the kidney fat

I thought I'd share what I learned about the Mason and Dixon's line because it was news to me. I'd always figured it was the line that was the northern or southern border of Tennessee (Tenneseein' is Tennbelievin'). Placing the traditional North-South demarcation line so far north really shifts my Weltanshauung.

I think what I love most about the second entry is that they kinda shared a bit too much information. It's like if they were defining me and said Daniel: a brunet male found in the Great Plains that normally wears collared shirts and blue jeans but sometimes wears his mother's dresses



At October 27, 2007 10:43 AM, Blogger Cerise said...

But in the kea entry, it's the second part that really defines the bird, isn't it? Like, the interesting thing about werewolves isn't that they're normal humans most of the time. I don't know; maybe it's not fair to describe something by a rare characteristic... but in this case it does seem salient.

I'd never heard "Tennesseein' is Tennbelievin'. Ha!

At October 27, 2007 1:31 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I wouldn't say the second part defines the bird as much as it distinguishes it. But according to the Wikipedia entry, they could have just as easily distinguished it by mentioning it's one of two birds in the genus Nestor, or that it is weird that it is a parrot that lives in the mountains. It wasn't for another thirty years after the dictionary was published that they confirmed this behavior.

I do agree with you though that it is good for some distinction. I was going through my paperback dictionary at work and the entries for wheat, oat, rye, and barley were barely differentiated.

And I got the TN slogan from a Simpsons episode when the boys steal a car and go to Knoxville to see the World's Fair. Unfortunately, they had a AAA map/pamphlet from 1985, so the fair was gone. The slogan was on the sign as they entered the state.

At October 28, 2007 5:26 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

I love love love the definition of Daniel.

At November 03, 2007 9:23 AM, Blogger Curly Sue said...

In that same episode of the Simpsons, they stop in Branson (!!) and see Andy Williams, at Nelson's insistence. It's in that episode that the memorable quote comes from: "Branson is like Las Vegas if it were run by Ned Flanders".

I also love that you're willing to post your cross-dressing tendencies in such a public forum. Thank you for sharing, Daniel ;)


At November 03, 2007 11:05 AM, Blogger Curly Sue said...

Daniel, I don't have your email address to invite you to join my private one. Maybe Ellen has it...?


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