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The 'B' List

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788.  Mon Oct 27, 2003 12:24 pm Reply with quote

Jenny, Wordnet defines a quarter horse as 'a small powerful horse originally bred for sprinting in quarter-mile races in Virginia'. Not easy to imagine Death astride one (even in Discworld). But Pratchett is a lively fellow and singlehandedly responsible for keeping British males between the ages of 16 and 25 reading books. But lest we typecast his readership unfairly, AS Byatt is a serious fan.

Bodice-rippers. It seems odd but OED can only trace the phrase to pre-1980. Very imprecise for the lexicograoher's lexicographers. Hoewever the genre seems to have started with the book Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers in 1976, although Gone with the Wind was probably the model, and Barbara Cartland (of glider fame) had ploughed a similar, chaster, furrow for years. The best discussion is at I quote:
The ingredients of a bodice ripper are instantly recognizable. The cover illustration shows a bosomy female whose bodice is being ripped. It has to be fat (what is called in the trade a good read), and I think some editors require that the heroine be ravished every ten pages. The emphasis is on plot rather than character, the action is movement without motivation. The books infuriate feminists, who understandably object to females being repeatedly ravished and often enjoying the ravishment, yet the market for them is amazing and insatiable. The women who read them are avid readers who devour several a week. These are the most successful romances (with the possible exception of the contemporaries, which I'll describe anon.)
There's a nice description of the anachronisms so essential to the genre. In one 'Regency' novel the men of warring clans carry bows and arrows. The 'contemporary' romances referred to here are distinguished - in the UK at least - by the term 'bonkbuster'. Which is a nice way of getting back to B.

795.  Mon Oct 27, 2003 3:05 pm Reply with quote

Oh yes - that would make a lovely tie-in - bonkbusters and bodice-rippers for a B question.

Which emphasis upon the bosom (another B of course) brings me to the bra.

While I adore the thought that the bra was invented by a man named Otto Titzling, sadly this appears to be a myth. Another attribution for the invention was to Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York socialite, who bought a sheer evening dress in 1913 and didn't want to wear a whalebone-stiffened corset underneath it, and improvised with a couple of handkerchiefs and some ribbons to lend herself some support. She patented her device on 3rd November 1914 under the name brassiere.

A book called American Sex Machines, by Hoag Levins, explores devices related to sex patented by the United States Patent Office. He concluded that Marie Tucek had patented a breast supporter in 1893 that looked similar to a brassiere, in that it had separate cups for the breasts, shoulder straps and was fastened by a hook and eye. Mary Phelps Jacob's brassiere was lightweight and did not have cups for support, tending to flatten the breasts instead.

There has been one documented case of death caused by wearing a bra, a 23 year-old large-breasted Viennese woman named Berbel Zumner, who wore a good supporting bra with metal underwire. However, she was, unfortunately, struck by lightning, and as metal and lightning aren't a good combination she was killed.

800.  Mon Oct 27, 2003 7:08 pm Reply with quote

On the quarter horses, I used to own one, and I understood it to be so named because it was bred to race over a quarter mile. Their acceleration is terrific, they reach flat-out speed within three strides from a standing start, and apparently their secret is that they have very capacious lungs so that they don't breathe at all during that quarter mile - but then, of course they blow up very quickly after that, which is why they aren't in the running against a thoroughbred over a longer distance. Their is a race called the Futurity in which the fastest available production car is raced from a standing start over a quarter mile against the champion quarter horse, and the last time I looked (ie when I was breeding from this mare and wanted to select a sire) the car had never won. But this was, I guess, ten years ago.

The foal, to pre-empt the question, has lots of stamina but no nerves and isn't particularly fast.

804.  Mon Oct 27, 2003 7:43 pm Reply with quote

Q14......Clarence Birdseye, who also said:

Mix your knowledge with imagination and apply both.

805.  Mon Oct 27, 2003 7:59 pm Reply with quote

And to continue the question thread: Which B hired another B to use a third B to combat a fourth?

Frederick The Monk
816.  Tue Oct 28, 2003 9:04 am Reply with quote

Absolutely right about Cap'n Birdseye, by the way.

819.  Tue Oct 28, 2003 2:28 pm Reply with quote

I don't have much of a clue about Liebig's question, but I do wonder whether the third and fourth Bs are barristers. Or possibly bodyguards, I suppose.

Here's another B for you - what B is the world's largest herb?

Frederick The Monk
823.  Tue Oct 28, 2003 5:39 pm Reply with quote

Ah Jenny - bananas! And did you know they are related to asparagus which, by the way, gets its name from the greek for sprout.

Which reminds me, which B wore a cabbage leaf under his cap?

827.  Tue Oct 28, 2003 5:54 pm Reply with quote

I didn't know about the banana/asparagus connection - always thought asparagus was a fern. Which leads to the interesting question - how do you define what a herb is?

Well I had fun with Google finding your B question out, Fred, and it turns out to be Babe Ruth. The fun was finding this obscure piece of information on an astrology website which said:
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Babe Ruth was one of baseball's greatest players. He was also among the most eccentric sports stars ever. Stories abound of him arriving at the stadium just before game time after partying all night, then leading his team to victory. Three guesses what sign Babe Ruth was. (Yours, of course.) On long hot summer days, Ruth used to keep a cabbage leaf under his hat to cool off his head, changing it every two innings.

This goes to show that any and all sources of information can be useful. Just don't make any life-changing decisions in consequence of this one, as it dates back to June 1999 and your opportunity, whatever it was, has passed.

I also found the same information on a sports trivia website, and also that the only person to play golf on the moon was Alan Shepherd, and that they never found the balls, so that somewhere on the moon there are three golf balls.

In the course of looking this up, I also discovered that Gustav Holst used to wear a rhubarb leaf under his hat, to protect himself from the heat while rehearsing for his opera Alcestis in June 1922.

Now I've heard of women with mastitis putting cabbage leaves inside the bra to soothe hot and sore breasts, but under a hat was a new one to me.

Frederick The Monk
833.  Tue Oct 28, 2003 6:05 pm Reply with quote

I remember a midwife telling me to go out and buy a Savoy cabbage when my wife had just had our daughter. I assumed it was for a rather half-hearted celebration - cabbage anyone?

Now I know why.

The golf balls story reminds me that Shepherds golfing antics on the moon were the first case of extraterrestrial smuggling in history. Until he produced the club and balls on the moon no-one at NASA had any idea he had them with him.

839.  Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:07 pm Reply with quote

There's a Scottish word 'blae' which means both bluish - as a cold face - and lead-coloured which I take to mean black.

Incidentally, 'black' humour comes, I believe, from 'bleak' humour, and bleak means originally pale or white, as in 'looking bleak' or 'In the bleak mid-winter'. So non-PC people like me can continue to use the phrase, smugle aware that it's not in any way a racist comment, as some would have it.

Frances posted this on the 'Orange' thread, and it led to a thought for a QI question - what Bs connect both black and white and give an extra B to black and blue?

846.  Wed Oct 29, 2003 6:24 am Reply with quote

I suspect that blae, bleak, black all derive from the same OE/ME/Ger source: bleke/blaec/blac/bla......all of which meant sunless ( hence Blae, sometimes Blea, Tarn in the Lake District ). Where the bleak fits in, a fish I'd never heard of before but apparently is used to grow pearls, I don't know.

1176.  Wed Nov 05, 2003 2:17 pm Reply with quote

"It seems" that Napoleon Bonaparte's horse Marengo was bought at Ballinasloe Horse Fair in 1801. Failing that the nag was sartainly bought at Bartlemy Fair in Cork.

1181.  Thu Nov 06, 2003 8:03 am Reply with quote

Oh nice one Bob! And another B horse connection - I've often wondered (OK, I wondered once) why Anne of Cleves was called 'The Flanders Mare', and assumed that perhaps she was horse-featured or something. I discovered today via a use of the phrase in Pepys Diary that Flanders horses were heavy draft horses from Belgium, called Belgian horses in England and known as the Brabant horse in the US. So presumably Anne was a bit on the hefty side? There must be a B question in this nice little nugget though.

1192.  Thu Nov 06, 2003 9:46 am Reply with quote

Liebig, how do you grow pearls in / on / with the help of a fish? It suggests an idea for a home industry, a development of goldfish breeding.


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