Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cath has misheard that the bird is the word

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His mouth can hold more than his belly can,
He can hold in his beak,
Enough food for a week.
I'm damned if I know how the hell he can!

(by Dixon Lanier Merritt, apparently. Not Ogden Nash. You learn something new every day!)

And I'm damned if I know how the hell I can have made the same ridiculous mistake twice.

It's all because of my habit of paying only partial attention to the TV. I'm usually doing something else at the same time - eating, talking, playing a game on my phone, reading a book, surfing the web, playing with a cat or two, that kind of thing. So some time last year, while I was "watching" the local news, I was startled to hear the anchor say that there'd been a pelican attack in one of Vancouver's eastern suburbs! By the time I'd looked up at the screen he'd moved on to another story, leaving me completely baffled and with some very odd mental images running through my brain.

Fortunately, the CBC website was running the same story - about a pellet gun attack.

Which made more sense.

Fast forward to last night, when Mr E Man and I were watching Survivor. I loooove Survivor (it's an extremely guilty pleasure), so I was actually watching it properly. However, during the commercial breaks I was paying attention to Saba, who was sprawled all over me and purring contentedly as I rubbed her belly. I was vaguely aware that there was some kind of cosmetics advert on the screen, but was suddenly snapped into full alertness by a rather bizarre slogan I'd just heard.

"The colour of pelicans???!!!", I blurted out before I could stop myself.

Mr E Man eventually managed to gasp out the word "elegance" in between fits of laughter.


In my defense, it's still a ridiculous slogan. And later on in the show they actually showed some pelicans flying past the beach, which set us off laughing again. I suspect they'd already shown a similar shot before the commercial, which helped to trigger the confusion. Either that or I have a very bizarre subconscious.

Ooh! That just reminded me of something. Hang on a minute, Googling:

Ah, yes, I was right! 

To (mis)quote Douglas Adams in The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul:
It was a couple of days before Kate Schechter became aware of any of these things, or indeed of anything at all in the outside world.

She passed the time quietly in a world of her own in which she was surrounded as far as the eye could see with old cabin trunks full of past memories in which she rummaged with great curiosity, and sometimes bewilderment. Or, at least, about a tenth of the cabin trunks were full of vivid, and often painful or uncomfortable memories of her past life; the other nine-tenths were full of penguins pelicans, which surprised her. Insofar as she recognised at all that she was dreaming, she realised that she must be exploring her own subconscious mind. She had heard it said that humans are supposed only to use about a tenth of their brains, and that no one was very clear what the other nine-tenths were for, but she had certainly never heard it suggested that they were used for storing penguins pelicans.

So there you go. It's not my fault, it's just the way the human brain evolved.

Weirdly, like this post just did.


  1. The great characteristic of the pelicans is the flight and how they plan over the sea, is the bird that more I like, that fly low over the water.

  2. You daemon is probably a pelican.

  3. The common cormorant, or shag
    Lays eggs inside a paper bag
    The reason you will see, no doubt
    Is to keep the lightning out.
    But what these unobservant birds
    Have never noticed is that herds
    Of wandering bears, with buns
    Steal the bags, to keep the crumbs
    -- Christopher Isherwood.

    We have a cormorant in Cromer. No pelicans, sadly. Nor bears. Buns can be supplied on request.

  4. oh man, funniest post ever!
    A pelican attack in East Vancouver, I would be scared.

  5. Aaaand the comments are evolving weirdly too. Excellent.

    Alejandro, pelicans are very cool birds. They look so prehistoric. On vacation in Cuba last year, a couple of pelicans on a fishing expedition kept swooping right over our heads as we swam, and it was really quite unnerving.

    Nina, I can live with that!

    Thanks for that, Cromercrox! I remember my German penfriend being extremely confused by the two different meanings of the word shag that she heard when she came to visit once, when we were about 14. One meaning was in the bird book and conversations we had when we went for a hike on the North Yorkshire coast with my parents, and she heard the other one from some of the boys in my class when she came to school with me one day.

    Liz, yes, I did wonder for a moment if it was safe to venture outside, or if the Hitchcock movie was still in full swing!

  6. Notes found on the back of an old envelope -

    Once I saw a pelican
    Sitting on a stump
    He was preening all the feathers
    On his most substantial rump

    I looked at him
    And looked at him
    And suddenly I see
    That he is not a pelican
    He's a penguin taking tea...

    You get to be a tea taster by starting as an office boy and being really friendly and helpful etc to the tea taster in charge and hopefully they will find out if you have the right taste buds and if so you will be given the opportunity to learn the trade and end up as the factory manager as well. Thats how my grandfather did it anyhow and he became a highly regarded expert although I have to say that over sensitive taste buds are rather annoying in some ways. I can smell some scents from acres away which is fine if they are ones I like but not so hot if they aren't.

    viv in nz

  7. What I like best about the pelicans I've seen (Brown Pelicans, in Florida) is how they wheel and glide overhead, obviously delighting in the wind, and then

    WHUMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they fold their wings and absolutely PLUMMET into the ocean after a fish.

    Graceful aerobats and psychotic daredevil bombardiers all at once. Love 'em.

  8. Oooh, pelican as a deamon, what a cool idea from Nina.

    I think the only pelican I ever saw live (or at least that I remember) is a live mascot of a restaurant on the Greek island Mykonos:

    And in other pelican-news, if you are ever in Stockholm, there is an old beer-house in Sodermalm called Pelikan, which has great traditional Swedish food and beer:

  9. It's great I can make (sarcastic) references to books here that everyone seems to understand.
    Only now comes to my memory a comic book from my chldhood about a bear, a pinguin and a pelican. I've googled it and it seems to be originally Danish:
    Your dreams touch upon a certain reality where these animals always appear together, somehow!

  10. Thanks, Alejandro!

    Knutty Knitter, I love the poem! I fear that my taste buds might not be sensitive enough, but I shall keep thinking of ways to get paid for drinking tea.

    Ricardipus, doesn't that kind of display make you feel sick and tired of being a land lubbing biped?!

    Pika, Mmmm, beer. Mmmm.

    I think the first pelican I ever saw was in a park in London or something. Or maybe I just imagined it.

    Nina, some Googling may have been involved in my reply!

    The website is super cute! I'll have to show my friend - her daughter has a big pelican toy storage bag (you push things in through the beak and then pull them back out through a hole in the belly), so she'd like the pictures!


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