[lit-ideas] Re: Sunday Twofer

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2010 14:23:56 -0700

On Apr 26, 2010, at 9:31 AM, Ursula Stange wrote:

These are charming, David. Thank you. And thanks for the reminder of the many ways to speak of the dead.

Many thanks for your thoughts. While under the weather, I have been reading two books, Adam Hart-Davis and Emily Troscianko, "Taking the Piss; A Potted History of Pee," and Tom Standage, "A History of the World in 6 Glasses." There's profit in both. I found the French expression, "manger les pissenlits par la racine" in the former, which also had, "il ne sent plus pisser," (he thinks the sun shines out of his backside), "ca l'a pris comme une envie de pisser" (he's got a sudden urge to get on with it) and "c'est comme si on pissait dans un violon," (it's like tinkling in the wind). More interesting yet is the economic history of pee. I knew that urine was used by tanners, but its use as a mordant, and in steel-making, and in the making of indigo was news to me, as were all the health claims made world wide by people who advise ingesting it. In passing (!) I should mention the list of inventive ways English-speaking people (well, men) have found to describe urination: bleed the lizard, change the water on the goldfish, drain the main vein, drain the radiator, freshen one's Snapple, break the seal, pump ship, release the pressure, shake hands with the unemployed, shake the dew off the lily, strain the potatoes, discharge my tea, tap a kidney. "Six glasses" is about beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and coke. If you can get through it without once once saying, "that's interesting," and reading a bit to someone near or dear, I'd be surprised.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon ------------------------------------------------------------------
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