Friday, May 8, 2009

Fleeing flies

Does the title above mean that I am escaping from the diptera, or that they, the insects, are getting away from something? A swatter, perhaps? A bat? It's hard to kill flies with a bat, though it's easy to hit flies with a bat, but it's easy for a bat to kill flies.

A Jeopardy question a few days ago:


The phrase they wanted was "time flies," of course. But I wonder if the college student contestant knew that the flying in the old saying was running away, or escaping, not necessarily something done at altitude.

Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like bananas.

are the customary pair of sentences used to demonstrate that you can't tell English parts of speech from a superficial examination of a sentence. But the first one would be better as

Time flies like a thief.

If, that is, "tempus fugit" had anything to do with it.

Or, you could time flies with a stopwatch.


And speaking of flies, I have been seeing this lately:
A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, "Let us flee!"
"Let us fly!" said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

--Ogden Nash
That's fly and flee and flea and flew and flue, but not flu. However, Karen at Karen's Poetry Spot has something along that line, also by Nash:
The Germ
A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

--Ogden Nash
There now. Flew, flue, and flu, all in one post. I'm afraid that "Floo" is simply a misspelling, so I won't mention it. No, I won't.

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