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Posts Tagged ‘Turkey

“Waterloo – Couldn’t escape if I wanted to”*…

 

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo** this week, The Bodleian Library is featuring it’s Curzon Collection of political prints from the period of the Napoleonic wars– including several British and French cartoons depicting Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo.

Most are available online in the Oxford Digital Library.

* Abba

** Napoleon wasn’t actually in Waterloo when he met his Waterloo. Most of the battle had occurred in Braine-l’Alleud and Plancenoit, just a few miles south of the town (the Lion’s Mound, the most iconic symbol of the battle, is located in Braine-l’Alleud). [source]

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As we retreat to Paris, we might recall that it was on this date in 1782 that Congress adopted the Great Seal of the United States and, effectively, the bald eagle as the national symbol.  Benjamin Franklin, who had been a member of one the four committees charged with developing a design for the seal and had proposed an allegorical theme from Exodus, later wrote to his daughter,

For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

“With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country…

“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on…

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Written by LW

June 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

“A pun is the lowest form of humor—when you don’t think of it first”*…

Pun, noun. Origin unknown “The use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more meanings or different associations, or of two or more words of the same or nearly the same sound with different meanings, so as to produce a humorous effect; a play on words.” – Oxford English Dictionary

Pity the poor pun.  For the last few decades, puns have been the province of clever headline writers, anxious shopkeepers, and embarrassing uncles; otherwise, they tend to be deployed sparingly, and with a dose of irony.  Indeed, the late William Safire, the New York Times‘s long-time language writer, wrote in 2005 that a pun “is to wordplay what dominatrix sex is to foreplay – a stinging whip that elicits groans of guilty pleasure.” But puns have a long and storied history– they featured in the parables of Jesus and in the plays of Shakespeare— and they play an important role in the present, allowing Chinese social media users to address “forbidden” topics.

Are puns making a comeback?  Sally Davies explores the question in BBC Magazine‘s “The Pun Conundrum” (from whence, the photo above).

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* Oscar Levant

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As we punder paronomasia, we might recall that it was on this date in 1784 that Benjamin Franklin wrote, in a letter to his daughter Sarah Bache, of his displeasure with the eagle as the symbol of America; he preferred the turkey.

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Written by LW

January 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

It’s Turkey Day!…

 

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More Turkey here, and here.

 

As we politely decline a third serving of green bean casserole, we might recall that it was on this date in 1922 that the Italian Parliament granted Benito Mussolini dictatorial powers “for one year.”  Mussolini held the position until 1943, though he changed his title in 1925 to “Il Duce,” then again in 1936 to “Sua Eccellenza Benito Mussolini, Capo del Governo, Duce del Fascismo e Fondatore dell’Impero” (“His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire”).  Any resemblance to Sylvio Berlusconi is coincidental.

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Written by LW

November 24, 2011 at 1:01 am

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