6000 years of hooooooooes!
I was the Black Death! Nobody want to admit that an undead black man killed half of Europe!
My second Reference Question Assignment for LIS.
I was excited about this one. I knew the answers to many of the questions well before I began. Then I realized that common knowledge was not so easy to find. I was really psyched about the question: “What is a homophobe? Give some examples.” I was so ready to go with that one, but then I re-read it and saw that the question read: “What is a homophone?” Bummer.
For this assignment, I limited myself to dictionaries, biographies, atlases and only left those areas when necessary. I had to visit several libraries and almost came up empty handed.
1. Who is Wilma Rudolph?
Wilma Rudolph, aka The Black Gazelle, aka The Black Pearl, was a 3-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner for the USA.
Finding info about her online was a snap with www.biography.com. The search for a printed resource took me to 2 libraries where I found that all the books about her were children’s books. Well that’s still legit. I picked the book with the title I liked the best: “Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph became the world’s fastest woman.”
2. What does it mean to “Go Platinum?”
To sell 1 million copies of a record. In the UK 300,000.
I thought this would be easy, I really did. I’ve known what this has meant for a long time, I think most people do. But finding that in print sent me through a lot of books. I went through a lot of dictionaries of slang and idioms and books about music in one library and found nothing. Nothing! When I did find a print source, it appeared so obvious and easy. I found it in the Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. My sense of satisfaction was short lived because the answer was “To achieve platinum sales.” Well that’s great as long as you know what that means. You disappoint me Oxford. Once again, finding the answer online was quick and easy.
3. What is a Homophone? Give Examples
Homophones are words that have different meanings and spellings although they have the same pronunciation.
Examples: Rite and Right. Lite and Light. Heir and Air. Knight and Night.
This was easy and both the print and online sources gave excellent definitions and examples.
4. What does “How Now Brown Cow?” mean?
I was really surprised this time because it did not mean what I thought it meant. The first time I heard the expression was in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Roman Legion Hare.” Yosemite Sam chases Bugs around a fortress and finds himself on the opposite side of a pitfull of lions. Bugs, safe on the other side asks Sam “How Now Brown Cow?” And that’s what I thought it was, a meaningless, rhyming taunt. I was in the third grade and thought it was hilarious and used it a few too many times on the playing field. So thinking I knew the answer, I looked it up at www.phrases.uk.org and found that it has no meaning. It’s just a dumb saying meant to teach elocution. So I learned something new. Trying to find it in print was all but impossible. Among the worst search experiences I’ve ever had. All the usual sources, the slang and idiom dictionaries, led nowhere. Keyword searches were useless. Eventually, I found a children’s book with the answer: “How Now Brown Cow?: A Course in Pronunciation.” I was worn out so I decided “Good Enough.”
Overall, I would never do this again with printed sources. I’m saying that because the online portion of this assignment took a mere 30 minutes tops. Searching for printed sources was frustrating beyond belief. The children’s section really came through. Figures.
My search for the answer did have one more amusing answer that came by word of mouth. There’s a bull who sees a group of cows on the other side of a barbed wire fence. He get really worked up and takes a flying leap over the barbed wire and accidentally castrates himself. The other animals get over their initial shock and burst out laughing and ask the bull “How Now Brown Cow?”
Thanks Mom :)
Les Rout interviews a Frenchman named Jean-Paul Franchemanne
LR: So where were you during WWII?
JP: We were defending our liberte. Vive la France!
LR: But France was occupied for most of the war. You capitulated in a matter of days.
JP: But not as quickly as the Polish mon ami. Les Polish are women! Vive la France!
LR: That’s true, but the fact remains that France was occupied.
JP: Ah yes, but we continued our French traditions. I would eat ze brie and
ze foie gras and I would sing La Marseillaise, but very quietly, so zat I would not get caught. Vive la France!
LR: That doesn’t sound like a very meaningful resistance.
JP: We did other things as well. We made ze streets of Paris filthy so zat everything was disgusting for les Nazis. Every day I would piss on the bushes outside Notre Dame. Vive le France!
LR: But the streets are still filthy and the bushes outside Notre Dame still smell like piss.
JP: That is in commemoration of La Resistance. Vive le France!
LR: Did you ever confront the Nazis occupying your city?
JP: Oui oui. One day, I went past ze SS headquarters and I took ze baguette from under my arm and I made it to imitate ze penis. I walked past ze SS men and I say to zem “Ha ha look at me! I am monsieur Hitler and I have a big dick haha.” And zen I run away! Vive le France!
LR: Did you make any concessions to the Nazis or Vichy?
JP: Well I joined ze Nazi Party and worked as a low-level functionary in the Vichy Government. But zis is unimportant. I had ze spirit of Napoleon in moi. Vive la France!
LR: Sweet Jesus! I thought you were part of La Resistance!
JP: I went to school with Marechal Petain. I feel zat I owed him as part of ze Gallic Brotherhood. Vive la France! You must excuse me now, I must go drink wine and pee. Vive la France!
LR: I am appalled.
JP: Allons, enfants de la patrie!
Reading the latest issue of Maxim, I found an article about chili peppers and the chiliheads who eat them competitively to find the hottest peppers. There are some grand names out there, such as Instant Regret, Colon Blow, Sudden Death, The Widower, and Satan’s Hemorrhoids, but nobody can agree about just what the hottest chili pepper is. I decided to ask a reference librarian just what the hottest flaming vegetable is and see if their answers were at all similar to the Maxim article. My only rules: You must answer my question and the pepper must be real. No Guatemalan Insanity Peppers or whatnot.
I have to work/sleep much of the day while not researching for school, so I decided to use email as well as chat to get answers. I first visited the East Lansing Public Library, the site of my first job, and emailed the reference librarian a question about the hottest chili pepper. I waited until midnight on October 21st and received no response. I will post their URL here anyways: http://www.elpl.org/
That was a bit of a disappointment, but I still love ‘em. Their website is very nice and I am very used to it. There is no exact “Ask a Librarian” feature, but you can email a reference question.
I decided to put the exact words “Ask a Librarian” into a search engine and roll with it. My first result was http://www.askalibrarian.org/ Sounds legit.
This is affiliated with the Florida library system. The response I received was extremely quick, albeit automated. It directed me to 3 articles about hot chili peppers and a Wikipedia link. Except the Wikipedia link was one of the same three links over again and didn’t involve Wikipedia at all, for better or for worse. Here are the three links:
The site itself is stark and to-the-point, just the way I like it. It allows you to chat, (when chat is available) email, text or choose a specific Florida library. It also allows you to see what questions other people have been asking.
While my question was answered speedily, the answer itself cited an incorrect link. I was invited to ask again if my question was unanswered and thanked for using the system. My question was not answered, as the articles all cited different chili peppers.
Moving right along, I checked out a few other libraries, but if I did not see “Ask a Librarian” on their website, I passed. I decided to check out the Austin Public Library because it had been recommended to me as a place to look for a job in the future. Their site is terrific: http://library.austintexas.gov/
I poked around for a while to see what I could see and the features are very nice. I would love to work there. The sites ease of use will impress you. You are allowed to ask a librarian questions via chat, email (which I used) text or phone.
The answer I received by email was the best of all. Meg, the reference librarian, noted that there was a great deal of disagreement and this has to do with the way pepper heat is measured. She came up with the proper Wikipedia link to the Scofield Hotness Scale that the Florida reference desk had failed to link properly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoville_scale
She noted that the Guinness Record book had an answer, but it is contested. Peppers can vary widely in hotness among the same species and are averaged out and may not be official enough for Guinness. Meg put quite a lot of work into this, and I appreciate it. She linked me to another article from the Atlantic, which I had been sent to already, and another article I had not yet seen: http://news.yahoo.com/trinidad-moruga-scorpion-wins-hottest-pepper-title-015457622.html as well as the Guinness World Book article: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/1/hottest-chili. I now have an official answer of sorts.
For my last trip, I checked out the New York University Library: http://library.nyu.edu/
I poked about to see what the site was like. It isn’t as friendly as the Austin libraries site, but it gets to the point quick enough, which is what I like. If you want to ask a librarian something, you can use email, text, phone, schedule an appointment, or chat. This time, I chose to use the chat function. I contacted AskBobst, who greeted me and answered my question about the hottest pepper. He came up with a list of responses that you can see here: http://nyu.libguides.com/content.php?pid=21050&sid=149155
I wish I could tell you that anything on this list was helpful, but it wasn’t. Some of the links failed to load. I had to run, so I did not have a chance to check the links until later. AskBobst was good enough to point out that if I needed further help, the chat desk was open until midnight.
It’s a beautiful thing, being able to ask a librarian. Admittedly, I could have found the answers myself, but I wanted to see if the reference librarians could do a better job than I could. Meg, at the Austin Library, went above and beyond.
I have no absolutely correct answer to the question, but I now know quite a lot about peppers. There are many contenders to the throne from the various sources, including the Carolina Reaper, Butch T, Naga King Chili, and the Moruga Scorpion, which seems to be the winner. If you think I’m going to try any of these chili peppers, sure I will, right after you do. I’ve had buffalo wings that were too much for me. Not a chance.
Additionally, why do these peppers all have names like pro wrestlers?
An excerpt from ‘My Completely Accurate Account of my Adventures in Ireland’
Came the time when Big Jim McCoullagh wrestled a bear.
At ‘The End’ (the bar where Ben Burgis and I had taken to drinking) a huge brown bear wandered in one night. Where it came from, I cannot say, but it was in a mightily poor mood, like it had lost a fight. It wandered in and one good roar later, even the former Yakuza had cleared the bar. We stood outside, marvelling at the situation when Big Jim McCoullagh appeared looking to get tight. Now big Jim was a mighty man, a good 6’8″ and 280 lbs. Ben had once shocked me by fighting Jim to a booze filled stand still. But now, he was looking to his favorite bar and wondering why we were all hanging about. After an explanation of why we had been turned out, Big Jim replied “Tis no bear, tis a fat man in a fur coat, and I’m goin’ t’throw him out!” Despite our protestations, Jim ventured into the bar and then came a raucous goin’s on. After a time, the police arrived to find Big Jim asleep atop a passed out bear that had too much to drink. To this day, we talk of what a determined man with his blood up can accomplish, even against a bear. The bear itself lived out back of the bar, peacefully, until the Boys from County Hell came looking for a match. But that’s another story,
- Les Rout from ‘My Completely Accurate Account of my Adventures in Ireland’