"No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir."
Kate says i have a "dainty English major" way of flipping people off. We discussed insulting gestures, so i got Gestures: Their Origins and Distribution by Desmond Morris et al (1979) out from the library.
The forearm is a phallic gesture. The forearm with its clenched first represents a super-normal phallus and its jerking movement imitates the thrusting of the penis. The slap of the left hand against the upper-arm seems to indicate that the super-penis has been thrust into an orifice as far as it will go, and has met resistance which prevents it from going further. To be specific, therefore, the forearm jerk gesture represents maximum intromission. (80)
the middle-finger jerk was so popular among the Romans that they even gave a special name to the middle digit, calling it the impudent finger: digitus impudicus. It was also known as the obscene finger, or the infamous finger, and there are a number of references to its use in the writings of classical authors. For instance, Martial (Epigrams VI.LXX): 'he points his finger, and the insulting one at that, towards Alcon, Dasius and Symmachus.' The emperor Caligula is thought to have used the extended middle finger when offering his hard to be kissed, as deliberately scandalous act. And, according to Suetonius, Pylades was banished from Italy for making the obscene middle-finger gesture at a critical member of an audience who was trying to hiss him from the stage. (81-82)
The way in which Shakespeare plays with this phrase ["I bite my thumb (at you)."] suggests that it would have been well known to his audience and that they would have understood the seriousness of the insult, had it been specifically directed at someone. But there is no clue here as to why such an apparently harmless action should be so intensely provocative. A clue does come, however, in a work published four years after Romeo and Juliet. In Wits Miserie, by Thomas Lodge, which appeared in 1596, there is the phrase: 'Giving me the Fico with his thumb in his mouth', which is generally assumed to be the same gesture. It has been interpreted as a variant form of the fig-sign, with the thumb going to the mouth instead of between the fingers of the closed hand. When we discussed the more typical fig-sign earlier, we mentioned the story of the humiliation of the Milanese by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1162, when he forced his captives to pluck a fig from the anus of a mule with their teeth. It is this origin which is seen by some as the explanation of the teeth flick gesture. The gesturer, by plucking his thumb (the symbolic fig) from his mouth, and aiming it directly at his victim, implies that the latter was a 'fig-plucked', in other words, a man who was prepared to humiliate himself to save his life. The phrase 'a fig for you' is sometimes used in connection with the gesture, and this would seem to confirm that the anger aroused by the teeth flick results from its message: 'you are a degraded, humiliated coward.'
It has been argued that perhaps the 'biting a thumb' gesture was a completely different action from the teeth flick, but there is an instruction in a seventeenth-century etiquette book, The Rules of Civility, which suggests that they are, in fact, one and the same. It reads: 'Tis no less disrespectful to bite the nail of your thumb, by way of scorn and disdain.' From this it would appear simply that 'to bite the thumb' is no more than a popular contraction of 'to but the nail of your thumb', a fact often overlooked by Shakespearean actors, who tend to but the whole of the thumb, rather than just flick the nail from behind the upper teeth. (199)
After dinner we watched "Dish and Dishonesty" 'cause Kate was being masochistic and we wanted to improve things. I had forgotten how wonderful that season of Blackadder is.
"Still; for me, socks are like sex: tons of it about, and I never seem to get any."
assorted links from my dad:
-interesting juxtaposition of billboards
-homosexual necrophiliac duck
There are, of course, official British standards for the preparation of coffee (standard number BS 6379-4:1991) and tea (standard number BS 6008: 1980).
Clearly we have learned from the incident on The Heart of Gold ;)
"Dying for a cup of tea, are we?"
Sometimes when sk8eeyore talks about Jan i am reminded of Liz Carr. I mentioned Sarah and Jan tonight (Liz asked me, "Are you going to grad school?" and i started talking about all my friends who are going places.) and it turns out Liz knows Jan (college chaplains and all).
fandom as mafia
"Other early- to mid-90s TV shows I miss include Dangerous Minds (which was on Tuesdays at 9 PM on ABC starring Annie Potts and I loved it so)"
"There's a certain something about waking up in the morning and taking a a quizilla quiz, first thing. I mean, I can't lie and say I didn't always suspect that deep beneath my human, collegiate exterior there lay the beating heart of an alcoholic My Little Pony, but it's best to have these things confirmed by quizilla as fast as possible. That way you know how you stand."