Friday, February 14, 2014

2163 The Tar

Sometimes our language makes me go head over heels. Or topsy-turvy. There's a great phrase: topsy-turvy. I'm guessing it's like head over heels but derives from tops over turf.

Either one doesn't make sense. They supposedly mean being flipped upside down but if you think about it, they really mean status quo. Stasis. Staying the same. Head over heels is where you are normally. I'm head over heels in love with her. So I'm standing up? Topsy-turvy the same way. My top part is over the turf. Yep. Firmly grounded and ready to plant myself like a tree.

Then there are the phrases that creep into our language because somewhere along the way we stopped paying attention. Like the street right here in Olympia that my brother-in-law and sister once pointed out. They saw it with fresh eyes. I was so used to it, it never occurred to me. The street name? "Boulevard Road." Wonder if it's close to Cul-de-sac Loop?

Maybe it crept in because one of the words is foreign and so doesn't resonate with full significance. Boulevard is so Frenchy. Or like the phrase "La Brea tar pits." You've heard it. It's a place in LA where a pool of tar has accumulated over the eons. 

The petroleum in tar functions as a great preservative. So scientists have been able to discover mastodons and sabertooth cats and other extinct ancient clumsy beasts that stumbled in. Perhaps a clue to their extinction. 

Or maybe they couldn't read the Spanish warning signs. La Brea means "the tar." So that means when we say "La Brea Tar Pits" we're actually saying "the tar tar pits." 

They serve a delicious mastodon tartare. It'll make you go head over heels.

America, ya gotta love it. 

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