Lightning Round (Strike Three)


[continued from previous post]

This post has been broken in two so that the first part doesn't disappear if the rest of it can't get published right away due to technical difficulties. Who says lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice?

Representations of theobromine released into the public domain by their creators via Wikipedia
I've had this next tidbit on hand since my post on Apple's Dictionary app a couple of months ago. According to its Wikipedia entry, theobromine — a caffeine-like substance found in chocolate that triggers migraines in some sufferers (while, like caffeine, it may also help abate migraines in others) — contains no bromine but simply marries the -ine suffix "given to alkaloids and other basic nitrogen-containing compounds" with "Theobroma, the name of the genus of the cacao tree," a name that combines the Greek roots theo ("God") and brosi ("food") to give us "food of the gods". Chocolate is indeed, for many folks, exactly that.
You may have often heard of ambrosia referred to as "the food of the gods"; as it turns out, though, that's a less literal translation if not an improper one entirely — and not just because its earthly namesake, a chilled fruit-salad concoction laden with cream or yogurt, is anything but divine. While the first part of the word has long been said to come from the prefix a- (meaning "not") and the root brotos ("mortal"), making it "the food of the immortals" or perhaps "not the food of mortals" ["Nyah! That's for tricking Zeus into taking the carcass with all the fat, humanfolk! Can't touch this!"], ambrosia's own Wikipedia entry states that it may actually stem from the root that gives us the word "amber" (which, now that I think about it, I always figured it was related to, with the "food of the gods" tag being more description than translation in all that Greek mythology I read).
Image © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Television.
Just last week an exhortation to watch the imminent Friday repeat of Bones was added to this post. While it's come and gone from the airwaves, I still recommend checking out the rare encore from Fox — which has otherwise sadly benched Bones for the summer, although the show can be found in syndication and on cable — of the episode "The X in the File" at the Fox website, on Hulu, or via the TV Guide website.

Hart Hanson's loose adaptation of Kathy Reichs' popular crime novels has always owed as much to The X-Files as to CSI, despite its dearth of otherworldly phenomena, thanks to the pairing of Temperance "Bones" Brennan, the strictly rational forensic anthropologist played by Emily Deschanel, with FBI special agent Seeley Booth, the gut-following, Catholic former Army Rangers sniper played by David Boreanaz. Like many series, Bones' episode titles have a gimmick; Smallville's are just one word, Friends' always began "The One with / where ...", and Bones' follow the pattern of "The __ in the __" (like "The Woman in the Sand" or "The Killer in the Concrete"). "The X in the File" is an explicit X-Files homage that brings Booth and Brennan to Roswell, New Mexico, and from what I recall is as good a jumping-on point as you're likely to get in the fifth season of a procedural with progressively complex subplots and character arcs. Among the winks in the episode, which is more tongue-in-cheek than usual, are the casting of Dean Haglund and a still from the children's show Rocketship 7. Haglund was one of The X-Files' Lone Gunmen, while Rocketship 7 was a local children's show in Buffalo, New York, hosted by Boreanaz's father under the stage name Dave Thomas in the 1960s before he moved to Philadelphia and became beloved morning-show host and weatherman Dave Roberts at WPVI Channel 6; the elder David retired late last year, shortly before "The X in the File" first aired.

Image © 1974 DC Comics.

There was no more exciting instance of Donner und Blitzen during my childhood (reindeer included) than the bolt from the blue that transformed young Billy Batson into the red-&-gold-garbed Captain Marvel. Although not half as faithful to the comics as its 1980s cartoon incarnation, Filmation's 1970s live-action Shazam! on Saturday mornings was thrilling partly because it did indeed star real people, in advance of the prime-time live-action superhero boom that brought versions of Wonder Woman and The Hulk to our living rooms (along with less successful stabs at other Marvel characters and the non-comics-originating Six Million Dollar Man); while the plethora of network and syndicated animated series from Filmation and Hanna-Barbera featuring original and adapted costumed adventurers were welcomed with open arms, there was a unique thrill in watching Shazam! or reruns of the 1950s George Reeves Superman series and the 1960s Adam West Batman, no matter how different they were from their printed counterparts — even DC's concurrent Shazam! revival, which explicitly tied into the Saturday-morning show for a time, could only do so with broad strokes. Much of the electricity, no pun intended, was the speaking of that single word.

Photo taken by Sean Waugh for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's
National Severe Storms Laboratory

My close personal stalker Joan Crawford wrote about surviving the surprise Canadian earthquake recently, and among the comments on her post were exact opposite reactions from my blogging buddy Teebore and his friend Falen on their childhood and adult reactions to Mother Nature. I'm among those who tended to be awed into nervousness if not terror by thunderstorms as a kid but now revels in them (despite the literal headaches they often bring), with of course due respect to the rare but real damage they can do and total compassion for those seriously afflicted by hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, et al.

There were thunderstorms aplenty in Wildwood, the small seashore town where we lived year-round for my first eight years and spent many summers thereafter. During bad ones my grandfather would calm my sister and me down by, if we were at the house, taking out the requisite volume of the family's World Book Encyclopedia and explaining the phenomenon in simple scientific terms; if we were out, he would similarly try to remove the mystery by recounting the facts in his own words and point out that the only place safer to be during a thunderstorm than a building was a car, because we were sitting on rubber tires. That last part made leaving the car deadly frightening because anyone stepping onto the ground while holding the car door would be completing the circuit when the tires couldn't, although to their credit I think either he or my mom made a game of running out of the car into the house, store, or restaurant as quickly and safely as possible.

And while I was having fun with an old canard in the opening lines of this post, lightning really does have the same probability of striking something again that it had of striking it the first time — unless, one assumes, that object was destroyed. Grandpop, meanwhile, appears to have been right about cars being relatively safe during thunderstorms but wrong about why.

4 comments:

SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...

I have always loved thunderstorms. My parents might correct me, but I honestly can't ever remember being scared of them. I love to sit in our picture window and just watch it rain and lightning.

I'll have to go find that ep of Bones. We watch it very occasionally and I didn't see that one :)

VW: execrat - a former aristocrat

Joan Crawford said...

Blam-Wow! (Don't be fooled by impostors!)

I've been a terrible stalker as of late. You deserve more creepy dedication; I've got to up my game.

VW: Hinger

A lingering hinky feeling. I've got a hinger something isn't right here. Oh, right, there's Joan.

Hmm, it seems Blogger won't accept this comment as it claims my VFs don't match up.

VW II: Dembernu

A word I would use when pretending to speak French. "Oui, Je suis une dembernu, vraiment!"

Arben said...

I loves me some Filmation Shazam!

JW said...

I love thunderstorms too! Unless I'm outside in the middle of them.