August 17, 2015 by libroshombre
Sometimes sentences require a bit more thought, like two headlines from recent articles: “Rats Dream About Places They Wish to Go,” and “These Tiny Scorpions Would Like to Perform an Important Inspection of Your Old Book Collection, Please.” The first was by Clare Wilson and appeared last month in NewScientist.com. Researchers testing rats have found that “(w)hen the animals are shown a food treat at the end of a path they cannot access and then take a nap, the neurons representing that route in their brains fire as they sleep – as if they are dreaming about running down the corridor to grab the grub. ‘It’s like looking at a holiday brochure for Greece the day before you go – that night you might dream about the pictures,’ says Hugo Spiers of University College London.”
A University of Minnesota researcher “says this shows that rats’ dreams can be shaped by their goals … ‘it depends on the animal’s desires,’ he says.” Lovers of old books can be grateful that the desires of pseudoscorpions include eating dust mites and booklice, who in turn desire the starch-based glues in older bindings. Pseudoscorpions are less than 4 millimeters long, and author Bee Crew says the most common species, Chelifer cancroides, is found worldwide. It “looks just like a scorpion, thanks to an enormous pair of long, pincer-like claws called pedipalps” that are “twice as long as its legs, but it still manages to carry them right up in front of its head or out beside it like a thin, spiky, and uncomfortable hug.”
Cancroides’ mating desires lead it to some rather off-beat maneuvers best left to the imaginations of the squeamish. Curious researchers can go to http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/running-ponies/how-book-scorpions-tend-to-your-dusty-tomes/ for more details. Ms Crew added another notable Cancroides bibliographic detail shared by spiders and real scorpions: they breathe using book lungs. “They’re called book lungs because they’re built with alternating stacks of air pockets and layers of tissue filled with insect blood – hemolymph – that looks just like the warped pages of an old book.”
Library visitors sometimes wonder why they aren’t allowed to eat in the library, yet they can bring in covered beverages. It’s because food scraps attract vermin, like mice, silverfish, etc., that also eat books. But people being how they are, rules don’t seem to prevent eating in the library. Other library rules can seem unnecessary, like having to keep your shoes on, but there are sound reasons for them all. The keeping shoed rule has several factors; the hygienic reasons are more disturbing than Cancroides’ love life, but safety is the main one. You need shoes if the building has to be evacuated at -40, for instance.
Odd phrases are even stranger when their individual words don’t compute. “Wicky-wacky-woo” is the example in mind. My first encounter with wicky-wacky-woo came while watching “Flying Down to Rio,” my favorite Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie. Made in 1933, it was Fred and Ginger’s first movie together, though they weren’t the stars. Airplanes and lust figure largely in the fast-paced plot, and the music is lively and fun, but the showstopper comes when Astaire and Rogers dance the Carioca, “a mixture of Samba, Maxixe, Foxtrot, and Rhumba. The distinctive feature of the dance … was that it was to be danced with the partners’ foreheads touching.”
F&G do it on top of a kaleidoscope of swirling white grand pianos in this “extended production dance number” that included scores of dancing partners in several teams dancing in differing styles, and two complete solo renditions of the song, including the line “a little wicky-wacky-woo.” It’s difficult finding dictionary definitions of wicky-wacky-woo, but Cab Calloway used it in his song, “Nagasaki”: “Back in Nagasaki, Where the fellers chew tobaccy, And the women wicky-wacky-woo.”
In “Ukulele Lady” Bing Crosby sang, “If you kiss Ukulele Lady while you promise ever to be true, And she sees another Ukulele Lady foolin’ ‘round you, Maybe she’ll sigh (an awful lot), Maybe she’ll cry (and maybe not), Maybe she’ll find somebody else by and by, To sing to when it’s cool and shady, Where the tricky-wicky0wacky-woo, If you like Ukulele Lady, Ukulele Lady like a’you.” And if you keep the library clean, the library ladies like a’you.