virtualDavis

ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.
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Rabbit, Rabbit: Welcome to March

Rabbit, Rabbit: from doodle to superstition

Rabbit, Rabbit: from doodle to superstition

Rabbit, rabbit. I hope that March brings you plenty of good fortune.

Rabbit, rabbit? What?!?!

Growing up learned to say “Rabbit, rabbit,” first thing on the first day of each month for good luck. Before, “Good morning.” Or, “I’ll be right there…” If we could remember to say “Rabbit, rabbit” before we uttered anything else we could expect plenty of luck for a month.

It was easy to forget. It still is. But I still try to say it. And this morning, for the first time in quite a while, I remembered.

Odd Habits & Good Luck

I’ve acknowledge elsewhere that I grew up with an unusual menagerie of habits and superstitions.

We celebrated all sorts of holidays that my friends did not. Christmas, yes. But also Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and another near-to-Christmas night when we placed our shoes at the top of the stairs and St. Nick (I think) came and filled them with treats. Pistachios. Chocolates. Silver dollars.

Year round, while going to bed, we observed a few of the normal soporific mutterings like, “Night, night. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” But we also had another odd pre-sleep utterance: “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.” Why? No clue. But we said it. Sometimes I still do. Pity my perplexed but accepting bride.

There were other oddities too, in some cases a bit more embarrassing, like the fact that I grew up referring to a woman’s breasts as “boogens”. Why? No clue. Middle school locker room braggadocio quickly exposed my peculiarity.

I long assumed that our top o’the month “Rabbit, rabbit” was a similar entre nous oddity. Wrong. It turns out “Rabbit, rabbit” isn’t just a curious family tradition. It’s a curious [likely] British tradition that seems to have colonized most of the English speaking world like tennis, gin and preposterously poor second language skills.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbits…

NPR’s Rachel Martin interviewed Martha Barnette (host of A Way with Words) on December 01, 2013:

MARTIN: This is the hard thing, right? Like, you’re supposed to wake up first thing and the first thing out of your mouth on the first day of the month has to be rabbit, rabbit. And then you’re lucky for the rest of the month?
BARNETTE: Exactly, yes. That ensures luck. And we don’t know why, you know, rabbits have been associated with luck of one sort or another – usually good luck – for more than 2,000 years. But it’s only in the early 1900s that we see written references to this superstition. (NPR)

According to the collective wisdom of Wikipedia, the origins of the “Rabbit, rabbit” tradition are British and showed up early in the 20th century. Not much additional clarity is offered but a few interesting references are dished up for you curiosity.

Mad as a March Hare?

The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit (Wikipedia)

Update: A couple of quick quips from readers raise the inevitable question, “Have I gone as mad as a March hare?” From rabbits to boogens to an unfair dig at English linguistic limitations, I seem to have plunged into March with the reckless abandon of Lewis Carroll’s second most memorable character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
“Nobody asked your opinion,” said Alice. ~ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Nobody asked mine either, I suppose. And I am swerving erratically, brainlessly.

Thanne þey begyn to swere and to stare, And be as braynles as a Marshe hare
(Then they begin to swerve and to stare, And be as brainless as a March hare)
 ~ Blowbol’s Test, c. 1500

Rabbit, rabbit! Take some more tea?

 

The Goose is Getting Fat

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.

Not sure what a psychiatrist would make of this admission, but “Christmas is Coming” was my favorite carol as a child. No, scratch that. It was my favorite Christmas carol to sing as a child, though I preferred listening to others. Does this distinction make sense? Think of “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”, for example. Fun to sing given the right context, but I’d gamble that most of us have a long list of songs we’d rather listen to…

Originally a nursery rhyme, “Christmas is Coming” is most enjoyable when sung in the round with your brother and sister while commuting an hour over icy roads to school, patient mother at the helm occasionally joining in for a round.

If you’re inspired, but can’t remember the words, here’s a pre-Christmas gift for you:

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!

If you picked up on a subtle deviation in the first line, the change is mine. I’ve always sung about a single goose rather than a flock. Stick to the original if you’re a purist.

About a week ago a friend told me, “I can always tell when it’s you because you’re a whistler.” I guess I am. Not a good whistler, mind you, but an enthusiastic whistler. Sort of like my dancing! Not fun to watch, but plenty funny! And enthusiasm isn’t the only common denominator, though I’m not sure how to put my finger on the other similarity. Freestyle, perhaps. I’d like to say innovative, creative, improvisational or even uninhibited. But I’ll surely be called to account if I gloss up the merits of my freestyle whistling and dancing. Melodies and rhythms are flexible, mere inspirations for extemporaneous experimentation. Ah-ha, I’ve got it. I’m a jazz whistler!

What? Your BS detector is buzzing? Hmmm… Must need a new battery.

What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Dare to whistle it?

Smile! I’m blogging you…

Smile! I'm blogging you... (image of and by virtualDavis)

Smile! I'm blogging you... (image of and by virtualDavis)

I remember seeing a t-shirt for sale once that said, “I’m blogging this.” Nothing more. Just a black t-shirt with bold white lettering across the front. I’m blogging this!

I should have bought it. It would make people laugh. People who know me. Especially the ones who don’t quite get it. Blogging, I mean.

But I didn’t buy it. I liked the idea, but I wanted to edit the message slightly as follows:

Smile! I’m blogging you…

On the one hand, it’s humorous, and on the other it’s an increasingly relevant disclaimer. The “fine print”. Not just for me, but for all bloggers. All journalists, storytellers, writers, artists, etc.

What do I mean by relevant? We are photographing and video recording and quoting each other around the clock nowadays. Look at the ubiquity of blogging, micro blogging, YouTubing, Facebook-ing and Google Plus-ing. We are busy documenting our lives as well as anyone else who flits across our paths.

I walked down Madison Avenue this evening as a man filmed all of us. Not a news reporter, but a plain clothed civilian. John Doe. Or Juan Sanchez… Why was he filming us? What will he do with our stolen souls? Thievery! Or not…

Smile! I’m blogging you…

One of my favorite English language writers, Michael Ondaatje, returns again and again to the theme of thievery in his writing. It’s a large part of storytelling. I suspect many writers, artists, etc. ponder the idea.

I prefer to think of storytellers as borrowers, not kleptomaniacs. We borrow characters, scenes and plots. We borrow the smell of bacon cooking three doors down, the sound of a cello being practiced (badly) somewhere on the other side of an overgrown juniper hedge.

Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948)

Vicente Huidobro (image via Wikipedia)

Not all writers admit that they are recyclers, borrowers or thieves. Chilean poet Vicente Huidobrodeclared, “The poet is a little God.” He aspired to invent worlds of words out of thin air and ambition. I invite you to evaluate his success.

With the advent of widespread social media it’s easier and more enticing than ever to collect and curate the perfect pair of eyebrows, the seemy backstory, the unpredictable twist of fate, the melodic denouement peppered with the fragrance of jasmine and fireworks on a summer evening… All from the comfort of our own desktops. Or smart phones. The 21st century storyteller is everywhere you are.

Of course, flanerie still serves the storyteller well, but his boulevards have been extended exponentially. I am an unabashed flaneur, but not just in the Baudelarian sense. I’m an urban flaneur, but I’m also a rural flaneur. I’m a café and sidewalk flaneur, but I’m also a digital flaneur. And I’m collecting and curating 24×7 (to the occasional regret of my bride and friends, I hesitate to add.)

I apologize. I understand that not everyone wants to be onstage all the time. Not everyone wants to have their almost lofty soufflé or their offkey arias recorded for posterity. I get it. I’m with you.

But, I can’t resist. You’re interesting. Not just your eyebrows and your bacon and your cello practice and your seemy backstory and your perennially deflated soufflé and your upside down melodies. You.

But rest assured that mine is an imperfect lens, a distorted microphone. I won’t steel your soul. I promise. I can’t. It’s yours as long as you choose to nourish it. I will borrow liberally, borrow, not steel, and I’ll do so with a sometimes distorted, always playful filter.

Will you lend me the mischievous glimmer in your eye when I ask you what you want for Christmas? Will you lend me the fierce gate, knees high, hips restrained, stride impossibly long that I remember from the first time I watched you walk toward your airplane when heading back to New York City from Paris? Will you lend me your hurt and confusion and quirks and dreams?

I’ll do my best never to betray you, and I’ll always resist your soul.

I promise.

Voice Recognition at Christmas

Auction time. Ever used voice recognition software? It’s amazing. Quite simply it revolutionizes the way we interact with out machines, folks. You’ll want to try it. Soon. I’ve just upgraded my Dragon Naturally Speaking software, so I’m passing my previous version (v2.02) along to some lucky eBayer. Interested? Going cheap. No reserve. I’ve done a week-long auction during Christmas, probably not the smartest of all possible times to list. But I didn’t really think about it before putting it up. Have so much to offload after my relocation from Paris back to the US… Just starting to motivate to Yard Sale another big batch once Christmas holidays are past. For now, it’s Christmas eve, and I think I’ll wrap this up and head off to enjoy myself. Merry Christmas to one and all.

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