Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pop quiz, Jack...

Tufted Titmouse
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
Romeo and Juliet's first argument was about the identification of a bird. What species did each of them think it was? Who won the argument? (And extra credit if you get the non-Shakespearean reference in the post title.)

(By the way, if you haven't been following this blog from the start, you may not know that my name is Vera. My brothers Chuck and Dave and I are the bird world's "pop culture" experts--we get a kick out of people and their amusements. And I'll give more extra credit if anyone knows how we got our names.)


Laura K said...

Romeo said the bird was a Lark. Juliet said it was a Nightingale. Romeo won the argument.

Vera said...

Wow, Laura, you got it! I wonder if it's significant that your name is Laura, because another Laura I know is a big Shakespeare buff, too!

The morning after their wedding (or was it still night?), Romeo and Juliet heard a bird singing. Juliet says:

Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.

But Romeo says:

It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east:
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.

But then, after a bit of enjoyable banter and kissing, the bird sings again, and Juliet concedes:

It is, it is: hie hence, be gone, away!
It is the lark that sings so out of tune,
Straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps.
Some say the lark makes sweet division;
This doth not so, for she divideth us.

Apparently Shakespeare either was himself an observer of us birds or he paid attention to bird lore.

Now--we still have two questions open. Where did I get the post title, "Pop quiz, Jack..." and how did Chuck, Dave, and I get our names?

Nancy Ortiz said...

The Beatles asked the musical question on the Sgt Pepper album, after a lead up, to wit: Will ya still feed me, will you still need me, WHEN I'M SIXTY FOUR? The lead lyrics are...

Every summer we will rent a cottage on the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear...
Umm mmm grandchildren on our knees *Vera, Chuck and Dave...*
Dum dum, dum de da dum

That's it for me on popular culture. I cut out in 1971 when I got a real job and switched to Beethoven. However, I do obsure commercial jingles from the 50's and early 60's like a champ, as well as radio dramas, soap operas, and swing tunes. Shakespeare, not so much, except for penetrating literary criticism when I needed to in school. Anything for my GPA. TTFN. Nancy Ortiz

Vera said...

Wow, you got that, Nancy. That's how I got interested in human pop culture in the first place! I posted about it the first time I got on Twin Beaks, writing, "When I was a new fledgling, I asked my Aunt Lucy where our names came from. She said our Grandpa Paul was the one who asked our mother to give us those names. She said he never sang peter-peter-peter like a normal titmouse, instead singing all kinds of weird tunes like a mockingbird or something. She remembered that the first time he visited after we were hatched he crooned to us something about getting ridiculously old, chanting nonsense phrases. The words that stuck in her mind, even though they made no sense whatsoever, were, 'If I'd been out till quarter to three, would you lock the door?' (As if titmice could possibly lock a cavity!)

"Our Aunt Michelle remembered a couple of other things. She said Grandpa Paul was an entomologist! He was obsessed with singing insects. He and his brother, her Uncle John, were very competitive and always bickering about who was the best one. My grandmother fell for Grandpa Paul because he was 'the cute one.' But Uncle John’s mate insisted he was the best one. Aunt Michelle said no one ever liked Uncle John's mate (well, except Uncle John—and by all accounts, she made him very happy). Sadly, when she arrived on the scene, the whole family fell apart.

"Everyone loved Uncle George because he was so quiet and unassuming, and there was one other uncle, too. Aunt Michelle couldn’t remember his name (she’s Catholic and only remembers names if there’s a Pope attached). She said he was very eccentric. For a while he thought he was a woodpecker and couldn't stop drumming! When he finally quit that annoying habit, he became totally delusional, thinking he was the conductor on a little train. Aunt Michelle feels sad that she can’t remember his name because despite his eccentricities, he was very kind and funny and she always loved him best."

Vera said...

But Nancy, the words you're missing for that line are "We shall scrimp and save." (That's something we titmice are experts in!)

And now we just have one more pop-culture, non-Shakespearean reference to figure out. So, "Pop quiz, Jack." It will be less obscure for Jeff Daniels fans.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Ah, just the way I needed to start the weekend! That is quite a birdcouple question!

Chuck and Dave said...

"Pop quiz, Jack," is from the movie Speed. Howard Payne (played by Dennis Hopper) overhears Jeff Daniel's character quizzing Keanu Reeves's Jack, and so when he calls him after blowing up one bus, he starts with, "Pop quiz, hotshot." We thought making it refer to the character's name would make it easier to remember, but apparently not.