Lesson #194 Redux: The Teddy Bears’ Picnic

The summer after I started this blog, I came across a website that looked at the more disturbing second verses of common childhood verses and songs that we all know. Today, I learned the later verses to the Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and wow are they sinister.

The second verse is innocuous enough,

“Every Teddy Bear who’s been good is sure of a treat today. There’s lots of marvelous things to eat and wonderful games to play.”

But then it suddenly takes a really dark turn in the third (and final) verse:

“If you go down in the woods today, you’d better not go alone. It’s lovely down in the woods today, but better to stay at home.”


Nothing says childhood trauma like “your teddy bears sometimes come to life, get together in the woods for a picnic, and eat the children who follow them.”


An Addendum to Lesson #351: Things Are Not Always As They Seem

At some point between the time I hit publish on yesterday’s post and midnight this morning, the Harvard Law Library issued a (weirdly timely) post on their blog about the validity of the book Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias Hispaniae as an example of a text using human leather.

Tests have shown that our flayed friend did not get made into a book binding. Unless, the post points out, said friend was a sheep. I find this equal parts relief and disappointment.

You can read the article here. This is easily the shortest period of time I’ve had between posting a lesson and issuing an addendum thereon.

An Addendum to Lesson #266: Our Copies of Gatsby

Just no! Earlier today my WordPress cheerleader used the word “Dope!” No one has said “dope” since 1996. This needs to stop. I suddenly feel like my dashboard is the Brian Krakow of blog segments…not that Brian Krakow ever used the word “dope.” Moving on…

A couple days after our discussion about the merits of graded readers and Fitzgerald’s intended wording, my friend in the Texas capital texted me to tell me that he had found his copy of The Great Gatsby and to his surprise, it contained the very essay we had been discussing. I found that very interesting and then didn’t think anything of it until this afternoon when I pulled my own copy off the shelf to lend to a friend who decided, in the aftermath of my discussion with her about the wording, that she needed to reread it. It turns out my copy also has that essay in it.

For the last dozen years, he and I have both had this essay sitting right under our noses, but never read it. Clearly neither of us read Gatsby for class.

An Addendum to Lesson #249: Rhymes With Jaywalk

Last weekend, I wrote a post about the etymology of the word jaywalker and noted that Merriam-Webster, for whatever reason, provided me with words that rhyme with jaywalk. I didn’t think one would ever need to know that information.

Until today.

My dashboard this morning had a search query that brought someone to this blog that said “rhymes with jaywalk.” So apparently there are points in ones life where that information may be necessary. I stand corrected.

An Addendum to Lesson #207: The Boudoir Grand Revisited

My mother doesn’t play the piano. She is the only person in my family who doesn’t. But it seems she knows more about the family piano than anyone else does…

A boudoir grand is not necessarily a flat piano, as was explained to me. They can also be uprights. I did not know this until my mother sent me an email saying “look at the sounding board of our piano.” I have been playing that piano since I can remember and I have never known this. A boudoir grand can be apparently be an upright piano. I have no reference for this except my parents’ own piano. But I’m more inclined to believe Mr. Gerhard Heintzman, who built our piano, than anyone else.

Also, only sort-of-secretly, I’m planning to inherit it. I love that piano.

My Parents on Yesterday’s Post

My parents are a non-drinker (mom) and a very moderate drinker (dad) so the fact that they both sent me emails this morning about yesterday’s post is kind of hilarious.

Dad’s take:  “Someone once, when I was at university tried to convince me that it was a reference to a laundry lady, drinking too much an while hanging clothes on a clothes line on a windy day, allowed 3 sheets loose in the wind, because of her drunkenness, and  that is where the explanation comes from. Of course if you did not know that the ropes on a sailboat are called sheets, it would be a reasonable explanation, albeit wrong.” Best. Misguided Explanation. Ever.

Mom’s take: “From the small boat perspective, loosening the sheets does, indeed, bring the boat to an even keel as you spill the wind from the sails. This is fine if you aren’t racing.” I had no idea my mother knew anything about sailboats.