Ridiculous

Google Search Q&A 2

A few months ago, Dove wrote a post for one poor hapless soul who ended up on our blog after searching for “is sparrow and dove same thing?” Since then, we’ve had people find our site using “is a sparrow an a dove the same” “difference between a sparrow and a dove” “are doves and sparrows compatible” “is dove sparrow” and “sparrows+doves+same+thing“. Clearly, we’ve struck a nerve, and found a whole tranche of people who until now were fruitlessly searching the internet in the vain hope that they could one day learn if sparrow and dove is indeed same thing. We’re providing a public service!

So, I’ve looked through our site stats and found a few more searches that led people to our site, but which we were so far unequipped to answer. Let’s get started with this one from the mailbag.

spugogi food in germony

This is a tricky one to answer, because 50% of the words in that search do not exist! In fact, until I click publish on this post, no-one on the entire internet has ever posted the letter combination “spugogi”. So, what can it be?

Google corrects this search to “bulgogi food in Germany“. That’s a pretty reasonable search, and as it happens, I know a couple of good Korean places in Germany (if by Germany you mean Frankfurt) that do a great bulgogi! If you’re in the town centre, there’s Coco on Große Eschenheimer Straße (the road between Hauptwache and Eschenheimer Turm), which is modern and a bit cramped, but does good food and has excellent service, or, if you feel like a bit of a walk, there’s Mr. Lee at 153 Gutleutstraße (just south of Hauptbahnhof), which is more traditional but no less delicious, and has a wider range of dishes.

But! If you search “spugogi” on its own, Google corrects it to “spuggy”, which as we all know, is North-Eastish for sparrow. So, perhaps they want to know where to get sparrow food in Germany?

Seeds are fairly widely available at health shops, although they’ll cost you a lot. Most DIY shops and garden centres will sell proper bird food though. To be honest though, if Frankfurt’s greedy, fearless sparrows are anything to go by, German sparrows really don’t need more food – they’ll already happily land on your table at restaurants and pinch your bread.

But… perhaps by “sparrow food”, they meant sparrows you can eat! (IT’S A COOKBOOK) Well, I can’t help you with that I’m afraid, but I did find this useful book of German old wives tales, which says

“If a pregnant woman eats sparrow meat and drinks wine, her child will be unchaste and shameless.”

Learn something new every day.

Intoducing the new country........... GERMONY

Finally, perhaps spugogi isn’t a typo at all! Perhaps this person really did want to find spugogi in Germony.

Well, the name suggests sparrow bulgogi, which isn’t as bad an idea as it may sound. Sparrow meat is very dry, and apparently tastes best heavily spiced, so marinading and quickly grilling it is probably a good way to serve it! Sadly, no-one on the internet has (yet) had the idea of making bulgogi with sparrows, but here’s a recipe with chicken, which is as close as I could find on the web. Good luck finding sparrow meat though…

Alternatively, perhaps it’s spaghetti bulgogi? That’s an interesting idea – Bulgogi can already be served with noodles, so spaghetti isn’t a million miles away. Something along the lines of spaghetti with steak strips? This calls for some experimenting…

Check back soon to find out if spaghetti bulgogi is delicious or awful!

The best national coats of arms

As you’ve probably guessed from Dove’s many Game of Thrones cross-stitches, there are few things we like more than a good coat of arms. The one problem is that the sigils used in A Song of Ice and Fire don’t quite ring true in the real world. Most of arms of the great families just consist of a single animal on a plain background. A couple of players shake things up a bit – Stannis puts the stag, traditional symbol of his family, inside a flaming heart, while the Freys choose to commemorate the fortified bridge that keeps them as major players in Westerosian politics – but for the most part, they’re simple and ancient.

Compare those to the real world coat of arms of medieval Europe. They’re a mess of intermarried houses, surreal imagery, symbolism piled on symbolism, and eye-searing patterns, with the occasional minimalistic one thrown in too (and if there’s one thing medieval heraldry proves, it’s that everyone thought of themselves as lions. Real Westeros would just have have seven families of lions.).

So, here are some of my favourite coats of arms – bold, distinctive and clever, and barely a lion in sight.

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Google Search Q&A – “is sparrow and dove same thing?”

I sincerely hope this is the first of many.

Before all that, though, check out mine and Charlotte of Sherbet and Sparkles‘s review of Frankfurt bubble tea purveyor Nom Nom!

So down to business. Spuggy informed me that when he was obsessively checking through the site stats like the maniacal scientist that he is, that he came across this Google search that had led one hapless unfortunate to Sparrow & Dove.

is sparrow and dove same thing?

And I realised that not once, in all the time this blog has been a thing, have we answered that question.

Well, I refuse to let this travesty continue. Today, unknown searcher, I shall answer your question.

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The Footnotes of Doctor Moron

Do you love science fiction but don’t know what this is? Then have I got the book for you!

If you didn’t guess from my last blog post where I went on far too long about The War of the Worlds, I am a huge fan of H.G. Wells. Right now, I’m trying to collect and read his entire works and, helpfully, Penguin Classics has near enough all of them – not just his famous early science fiction, but his later social realist stuff too and even some of his non-fiction – and they aren’t just the cheapo public domain copy-and-pastes that some publishers pump out. The Penguin Classics have introductions, biographies, even detailed notes on the editing. And, of course, they have footnotes.

For an author like Wells, footnotes are normally a good thing. His most famous works were written well over a century ago, and borrow heavily from now obscure or discredited scientific theories, reference Victorian and Edwardian popular culture and make heavy use of the precise geography of central London and the home counties. Footnotes sometimes mean the difference between understanding a whole chapter, and becoming utterly lost.

But along the way, when they were putting together these footnotes, something went… weird. Just look at this, from The Sleeper Awakes:

But he perceived the Eiffel Tower6 still standing, and beside it a huge dome surmounted by a pinpoint Colossus.

[…]

6. Eiffel Tower: Built by Gustav Eiffel (1832 – 1923) for the International Exhibition in Paris in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is one of Paris’s most distinctive buildings and icon of the city.

Yes, if you’ve somehow lived on this planet long enough to learn to read English fluently, and still don’t know what the Eiffel Tower is, this is the book for you! This isn’t an isolated case, either. Here’s another footnote from the same book:

“Practically, I know no history. The Sleeper and Julius Caesar5 are all the same to me.”

[…]

5. Julius Caesar: Roman general (c. 101 – 44 BC) who became dictator and was murdered to prevent him re-establishing the monarchy.

What’s really odd is that this reference doesn’t even require this level of detail. Even if you don’t know who Julius Caesar was, literally the only reason he gets mentioned is an example of a famous historical figure. The Sleeper is not an analogy for Julius Caesar, he is not a dictator who gets murdered trying to re-establish the monarchy.

When the main character hears a telephone, the footnotist once again stops the action, now to tell us:

2. a telephone bell: The telephone was patented by Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) in 1876. By 1880 there were 30,000 telephones operating around the world including an exchange in London.

The Sleeper Awakes is not an isolated case. The War of the Worlds decides to use a footnote to tell us:

5. Mars: Named after the Roman god of war, it is the fourth planet from the sun.

and even The Time Machine, footnoted by someone else entirely, explains that, when the Time Traveller wishes he’d brought a Kodak with him, explains:

2. Kodak: The first Kodak portable camera was marketed in 1890.

When the footnotes aren’t defining what the Eiffel Tower is or that pnuematic means “inflated with air”, they’re explaining elements of the plot in laborious detail. For example, here is an excerpt from The Invisible Man, when Griffin invisibly enters a shop, setting off the bell.

Apparently I had interrupted a meal. [The shopkeeper] stared about the shop with an expression of expectation. This gave way to surprise, and then to anger, as he saw the shop empty. “Damn the boys!”3 he said.

Have you worked out what the shopkeeper means? Almost certainly, since you’ve read at least one book in your life. If you haven’t, here’s the footnote:

3. “Damn the boys!“: As in Chapter 17, Griffin makes someone assume that children have rung the bell and run away.

I hope you didn’t struggle for too long over that cryptic line.

Or how about this description of a futuristic meal, from The Sleeper Awakes:

Soup and the chemical wine10 that was the common drink were delivered by similar taps, and the remaining covers travelled automatically in tastefully arranged dishes down the table along silver rails.

What could chemical wine possibly mean?

10. chemical wine: A suggestion that either the wine is artificial or that it has been treated with chemicals.

Thanks.

I’ve read out excerpts of these footnotes to friends, who’ve suggested variously that they sound like they’re aimed at people who don’t speak English, at aliens, or that the editor was being paid by the footnote. I think only the last of those could explain the next footnote, from The Invisible Man once more:

His hands were clenched6, his eyes wide open, and his expression was one of anger and dismay.

[…]

6. His hands were clenched: With fury or to make fists.

It’s not all terrible though. Some of the footnotes are sheer genius. I’ll leave you with this one:

There seems no reason why Griffin should return to visibility after death, but his doing so is intensely dramatic.

Two bits of shameless marketing

I popped into Offenbach today, just to see what it’s like. Annoyingly, the town closed its tramlines in the 90s, so instead the trams just come to a sudden halt at a set of buffers built at the city limits, and you have to walk or bus the rest of the way into town. Anyway, along Frankfurter Straße I stumbled on two marketing decisions so bizarre and shameless that I had to take pictures of them on my phone to share with the world.

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