Saturday, October 16, 2010

On Defenestration

Do you ever notice that things seem to occur in groups of three? It's almost eerie.

I read LOTS of news articles online. I know you're glad I don't go into all that here, aren't you? I save the politics for Facebook, and you can thank me in the comment box :) Anyway, I was reading this past week, an article about someone's campaign and how it wasn't going well. And then the writer mentioned casually that someone in the campaign office was defenestrated.

Defenestrated? They threw him out the window!? THAT'S a bit extreme! Well, actually I think it just means they "jettisoned" him from the campaign. Phew!

But what a fun word to come across: defenestrate. I recall when I first happened on that word, a number of years ago. My French (not my Latin, because I had no Latin) came back to me. "Fenetre" in French means "window." So, to defenestrate someone means to "de-window" them -- to throw them out the window. What fun! The word, I mean. Not the throwing.

Anyway, then we went to the Renaissance Festival, as you all know. We went on "high school" day. There's also an "elementary" and a "middle school" day. And just so you know, the folks who work at festival despise middle school day. One man said he had never seen such horrible behavior before in his life. The festival actors are also not fond of the mopey, grumpy, why-do-I-have-to-be-here high schoolers, but that's because they haven't spent enough time with them.

Anyway, a few of the acts have to, um, adjust their acts for "children" days. They have to take out the racy, tacky, lewd and otherwise inappropriate conversations they generally engage in, with the audience. I felt most sorry for the Pirate Pair -- a man and woman act who mostly sing and tell ribald jokes. Frankly, they had NOTHING LEFT TO SAY, after removing the hard core indecencies. They were left with one silly song, the "Throw It Out the Window" song. Take any nursery rhyme, sing the first part, and then launch right into, "...and she threw it out the window, the window, the window...." So, Mary ends up throwing her little lamb out the window, etc. You get the idea. If you've never head the song, be glad. It's now been wedged inextricably in my and Julia's heads for three days.

And my small brain noted that this was the second time in a week that I'd heard something about throwing things out the window.

Until yesterday afternoon. Adam invited me to sit and listen to a fascinating podcast from "This American Life," a radio program. This episode is called "Fear of Sleep." There's a link to it, but you can also find it by searching at your I-Tunes store, if you like. If you don't have I-Tunes, you may not be able to listen to it, but you should get I-Tunes. It's free, and it allows you to listen to all kinds of things, of course. Most people on the computer have I-Tunes. If you don't, you're still a dinosaur :)

This episode is about a young man with a sleep disorder. His brain doesn't release enough dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that basically paralyzes your body during sleep, so that you don't physically act out the things that occur in your dreams. People who walk in their sleep probably don't have enough dopamine. But this fellow must have had NONE. He'd been told to avoid watching very active things on TV, right before bed. You want to avoid violent scenes before you go dream, of course. Because if you watch a war movie, it might give you dreams that invite you to stand on the bed. Or leap from the top of a bookcase.

Or, jump out a window.

Yeah. You should definitely listen to this podcast. Plus, the guy is a comedian for a living, so he's a good story-teller.

And thus I came to realize this morning that three separate and unrelated times this week, I heard about things being thrown through windows. Just thought you'd want to know. And it's always better to share these bizarre coincidences with each other, so we don't begin to think we're weird.


  1. This week I taught about the defenestration of Prague and the Thirty Years' War.

  2. I thought about mentioning that most famous of all defenestrations, J :) I think I'm slowing beginning to enjoy teaching/learning history as much as literature. It's growing on me.


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