Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Yabba-Dabba-Doo Virus

We spent the last few days of April recovering from a virus on the loose in the house. Last week, Lilly had it, then Ann, then me. Ann had to stay home from school on Friday, then I felt crummy on Saturday. While I was on the couch for much of that afternoon, Ann, mostly recovered, decided it was time to watch a lot of the fourth season of The Flintstones, a DVD set that was given to us some time ago.

I appreciate its spot in the annals of TV animation, and like it for the most part, but the show was never a top favorite of mine. A half-dozen or so episodes is more than enough at one sitting. Still, the season premiere that year, which guest stars Ann-Margret more or less as herself, is an exceedingly charming cartoon. Maybe that's because the show's husband vs. wife antics are toned down for the episode, with the addition of a musical score that's aged a lot better than the premise of the show. I don't ever remember seeing this particular episode in repeats, and I don't know whether my family would have been watching on the original airdate, September 19, 1963, but I wouldn't remember it from then anyway.

I'm mostly recovered from the virus now, and back at the word mill. So I saw the May Day Google Doodle featuring the anniversary of the opening of the Great Exposition of 1851, including the Crystal Palace, a steam locomotive, and the Koh-I-Noor Diamond, among other marvels of the fair and the age.

Does "doodle" seem the right term, considering how much planning probably goes into them? My own choice for today's doodle would have been dandelions, which have sprouted in great number on my lawn, other lawns, vacant lots, roadsides and other green patches that I can see. But that's just me being narrow-minded. The Great Exhibition is well worth remembering.

Among other things, The Guardian notes that, "the building and the original show helped create the English euphemism 'spend a penny,' meaning go to the toilet, after sanitary engineer and plumber George Jennings created the first public loos. The so-called Monkey Closets were located in the Retiring Rooms, and visitors, who were also offered a shoe shine, were charged a penny to use them.

"The first show was a big success and the profit made was used to found London's Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum." Full article here.

Those are all fine legacies of the expo. Never heard of "spend a penny," but it seems to count as old slang. Any museum that has full-sized copies of Trajan's Column, as Victoria and Albert does, is all right by me. Though overshadowed by other London attractions, I can attest that the Natural History Museum and Science Museum are also excellent.

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