Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Episode 31: Blue Moon Transcript

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Transcript was auto generated and may contain slight errors. 

Dan:                                     00:00                    Welcome to bunny trails, a whimsical adventure of idioms and other turns of phrase. I'm Dan Pugh
Shauna:                               00:04                    and I'm Shauna Harrison. And today we're talking about blue moons,
Dan:                                     00:08                    blue moons, like the beer?
Shauna:                               00:12                    you know, like the timeframe once in a blue moon.
Dan:                                     00:17                    Okay. Like the Blue Corn Moon from Pocahontas.
Shauna:                               00:20                    Oh Dude, I didn't even think about that one. Oh, Ooh, I love that movie. That song stuck in my head
Dan:                                     00:28                    Vanessa Williams though, man. What a beautiful voice and stuff. Anyway, so what is a, what does once in a blue moon,mean?
Shauna:                               00:37                    Blue Moon is often used with once in a proceeding it. And uh, the term has actually been around for a few centuries to mean a long or indefinite length of time or a rarely occurring, a rarely recurring period of or event.
Dan:                                     00:57                    Once in blue moon means it happens only every so often, basically. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Shauna:                               01:03                    Uh, so the term blue moon is considered a colloquialism while the complete phrase, once in a blue moon would be an idiom semantics. I don't particularly care for them. So we do find the full phrase though, going back in literature almost as long as the colloquialism, so they've just kind of grown together at the same time with the same meeting. I have always loved starting with the lore of some of these phrases because some of them are quite silly and this one is fantastic. Uh, anytime there is a celestial term involved, uh, you're going to get some fun history because I love astronomy. So that's my, that's kind of my gig. Uh, but, uh, there's some cultural history here for sure. Uh, on several pages online. I found a story that was really interesting, uh, with the origin of once in a blue moon.
Shauna:                               01:57                    And, and here's how that goes. Very occasionally, the moon actually does appear to be blue. This sometimes occurs after a volcanic eruption like that <some volcano? In 1883 dust particles in the atmosphere are normally have a size to diffract blue light, making the moon appear reddish at sunset, larger volcanic dust particles, defract red light, making the moon appear bluish.
Dan:                                     02:23                    Is that, is that true? Is this story true?
Shauna:                               02:26                    You know what it is! Oh, I was so excited. Listen, in astronomy, most of the, the folklorish stories are all wrong , like horribly wrong. Uh, and this one makes sense scientifically, but I was like, it almost makes too much sense. Like that's too simple for it to be the real answer, but that's not actually where the phrase comes from. Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah. Uh, but maybe that's part of it. Maybe a. So we're going to diverge a little bit and talk about blue moons themselves and what that means. So there's, there's two definitions for blue moon and thanks to and NASA, we have lots of reliable data on, on this topic. So is it data or data? Data. Data. It's data.
Dan:                                     03:14                    Okay. So the guy's name is data data. I had this conversation with my grandma, you can call it a worshing machine if you want to, grandma, but the man's name was George WASHington. You can't change his name and that's how I feel about data and data. You can say whatever you want to say, except when you're talking about the character from Star Trek because his name was Data..
Shauna:                               03:34                    Gotcha. Good. Good to know.
Dan:                                     03:36                    All right. Sorry. We bunny trail off of a bunny trail. So back to your bunny trail. About blue moons.
Shauna:                               03:41                    Uh, in astronomy, a blue moon is defined as either the third full moon. Have an astronomical season with four full moons or as the second full moon in a calendar month. So those are the two different types of full moons. How often do you get a second full moon and a calendar month? I will get there. Oh, sorry. I was just thinking that maybe this does have to do with the idiom because if it means one only once every once in a while. And that only happens every once in awhile, but I don't have any idea. So keep going. Sorry. So at a seasonal blue moon was the first one there. There are four astronomical seasons in a year. So you got spring, which is the mark, the mark one go. You've got spring, which is the march equinox to the June solstice. Was the big words are I struggled with them and then summer is the June solstice, two September equinox, and then fall slash autumn, which is September equinox to the December solstice, and then winter, which is the December solstice, back around to the march equinox.
Shauna:                               04:49                    Gotcha. Is it equinox or equinox? Equinox. It's probably equally like. Is it because it's like equal? It's the same concept as an equinox. It's splitting it. Right? But I said equity is it. I had never put that together. But you're right. That would be the same room looking at it. All kinds of things. So when one of the seasons in a year has four full moons instead of the usual three, the third full moon, which would usually be the last one for that season is called a blue moon or a seasonal blue moon. Okay. It doesn't. Why would they do that? But already, you know what? That's astronomy. Uh, there are also monthly blue moons. So this is that calendar month one. Nowadays, the second full moon in a calendar month is also referred to as a blue moon a or a monthly blue moon. This particular use was popularized due to a miscalculation published in a 1946 article in sky and telescope magazine, uh, but they've rated themselves and so we'll get to that as well. That's, I feel like we've got a lot of things we're going to get to, so I want to get it so exciting. Uh, so my, one of my big questions was, are blue moons actually rare enough to warrant this phrase then if there are so many types of blue moons, but they occur about every two or three years, once every, every two or three years for both types. There are a few more monthly blue moons than there are seasonal blue moons. Gotcha.
Dan:                                     06:18                    Okay. All right. I'm going to have another question, but I will wait because I think that you may cover it or you may not, but keep going.
Shauna:                               06:25                    Uh, so what's really interesting though is that this is a huge misnomer because the blue moons that are seasonal and monthly are not blue. Great. That's very helpful. So science, so a real, uh, so, uh, an astronomical, uh, either seasonal or calendar. Blue Moon doesn't actually appear blue, but the blue colored moons do happen very occasionally when the dust or smoke particles in the air or have that very specific set.
Dan:                                     06:57                    It's like when a big old volcano that I can't pronounce in Iceland goes off or something. Yeah, I thought it was a Kraktoa. The tornado... Is Tornado is a volcano in the Midwest? It's a tornado here. Yeah. No, there definitely, but there's also a different one that went off, I don't know, several years ago, and then they had to stop their travel and it went off in Iceland, but it shut down. I Bet I know the name of it. I don't because it's an. It's like, listen, Iceland. I love the concept of your whole country, but I can't pronounce anything in your country and that's my fault, but still I just can't do it, so I don't know what your volcano was called.
Shauna:                               07:34                    I'd love to learn Icelandic because that so many consonants, it is just exciting. Like Welsh. Well, I don't think Welsh has more consonants like Icelandic does. They just took out all the vowels. I didn't, we didn't add letters. They just took out.
Dan:                                     07:52                    Yes. It seems like this. See, I have this theory that like, uh, like the Wookie homeworld Kashyyyk is actually like maybe Welsh in ancestry because it has so many wise and stuff in it and not nearly enough other vowels. So
Shauna:                               08:04                    like middle English had a lot of Y's instead of other letters. Yeah, yeah. You just guessed at what it sounded like that time. Ah, right. Okay. So, uh, the dust particles or whatever smoke that's in the, in the sky, it scatters those, the red light, and then the blue is more apparent. It gives that illusion that the moon is blue a. okay. Well red or red or orange moons are far more common. Uh, those are caused by different sizes of dust particles or by a total lunar eclipse. By the way, there is a total lunar eclipse coming up this month, January 20th, 21st that night.
Dan:                                     08:39                    Oh. So that's like, that's a Sunday night into Monday.
Shauna:                               08:42                    Well, I, I didn't look at what day of the week. It was
Dan:                                     08:45                    21st is a Monday. Oh good. Because Martin Luther King Jr Day in the United States. Does it always fall on a Monday? The 20th? The 21st is Martin Luther King. Jr Day does something we do. We're like, we're just going to be with the calendar and find that in the 17 hundreds and like skipped like three years or something ridiculous or not three years, three months. And so some people like had their whole birthday skipped.
Shauna:                               09:11                    Oh, I believe Thomas Paine had his birthday skipped. How exciting. Maybe that's why he gave so many speeches
Dan:                                     09:17                    because he's like, he's like, listen, I know many of the founding fathers actually, uh, who, who are during that timeframe had their birthday skipped.
Shauna:                               09:24                    Right? Okay. So this great blood moon as it is being called on the news media is right now a news, the news media stuff a lot. It'll be visible from, okay, it's going to be visible from multiple locations, including a north and South America, Europe and western Africa. So if you're on one of those locations, check it out. Take 90 percent of the whole words that awesome. There are so many people who are going to be experiencing the same thing, like at almost the same time or the same night within the same 24 hours. It's so cool.
Dan:                                     10:02                    That is also. I'd like to just go ahead and stop people on twitter from telling me how wrong I was. Yes. I'm fully aware that it's not 90 percent of the whole earth. I was just making up a percentage. It's like same thing. Percent of the earth's ego, you. Oh yeah, yeah. Well that resides mostly in North America, specifically in the United States of America. We lived here in where 90 percent of the ego comes from. Oh yeah. No, no. When people are like, Americans are pretentious. I'm like, true. Oh yeah, definitely. We're pretentious and they were proud of it somehow. I don't know. That's weird. It's weird.
Shauna:                               10:38                    Right? Okay. So why is it called a blue moon?
Dan:                                     10:40                    Was this okay? Yeah. Good question because I want to know this. Like one you mentioned, so you talked about this stuff, but it sounds like calling this thing a blue moon, like why did we start calling it a blue moon? The idiom couldn't have come from that because the Indians have been around longer than we then this was popularized. So how does this. I'm so excited. How does this happen?
Shauna:                               10:59                    Okay. So what? They're actually various accounts as to why the third full moon of a season or four of those four full moons is called a blue moon. Some reference though, the, uh, calendar that identifies as Christian holidays festivals and feasts fasts, including the ones
Dan:                                     11:18                    that, uh, that Christianity stole from others, including those it uses the phrase I'm looking at, you know, capitalism and stole it from the Christians. So it's fine. It's just cyclical. Eventually, eventually pagans will steal it back in it.
Shauna:                               11:34                    I mean, Christmas come on like that hasn't been stolen back not being the pagans necessarily because they're doing their own things to listen. Can you call it stealing? If you steal it from someone who stole it? I mean, is that still stealing? No, that's like, what do you call it? Grab bags or something?
Dan:                                     11:49                    No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Like you can only grab bags if was yours and you took it back. But like if you steal it from like a thief steals something from someone and then you're a thief to line of stealing. Yeah. If you steal from them or is it really stealing it at that point or you just. I don't know. I don't know if procuring it. The white elephant game is when, which play around at Christmas time. Bring it around.
Shauna:                               12:16                    Nice. Okay. So the ecclesiastical calendar uses the phases of the moon moon to determine certain dates like eastern lind. Gotcha. So from an article on date and, the month of lint contains the Linton Moon, the first full moon of spring, also known as the Easter Moon or the moon. It falls a week before Easter in order to ensure that lent and Easter coincide with the phases of the moon. The calendar has termed the third moon of the season as the Blue Moon. So, uh, yeah, there's also the question of meteorological versus astronomical seasons, which posits another version of this being that since each full moon of a normal year already has a given name, for instance, Harvest Moon the 13th, the nameless full moon in a year was named a blue moon. Wait, okay. So I always thought the harvest moon and the Blue Moon where the same thing not people make. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are. Sometimes the harvest moon can appear blue. No, I mean the man. Oh, you mean that they coincide? No, because they already have names according to it depends on what calendar you're following.
Dan:                                     13:32                    Like Gregorian versus a calendar that's not Gregorian. Julian.
Shauna:                               13:37                    They're sort of, in this case we're talking astronomical season versus I apparently can only think of one kind of got to moving movies. Oh Geez. Now we're not talking checking
Shauna:                               13:49                    calendars per se in the dates, but the seasons so astronomical versus meter electrical as we know though, words and language are continually evolving products of those who use them. That's us. Uh, a Texas astronomer specifically, or like I'll not even royally. There's something better than royally inclusively, all of us in the Oracle. That's pretty profound actually. Thanks. So Donald W Olson wrote any 2006 column For sky and Telescope Magazine are deeming them? Yes. With two decades of popular usage behind it. The second full moon and a month misinterpretation is like a genie that can't be forced back into its bottle, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. So the next monthly blue moon is a. that's a second full moon that appears in a single month. Will be on October 31st of 2020. According to NASA. The last one was on March 31st 2018. There was a seasonal blue moon on Saturday, May 21st, 2016 and the next one will be in the spring of 2019. The third full moon of season will be on May 18th, 2019. So
Dan:                                     14:55                    it fits the concept of the idiom for sure
Shauna:                               14:58                    because that only happens every so often. Yes. Um, there was one more thing that I thought was interesting about once every eight years, not 18, 19 years. The month of February. Does not have a full moon, which that is known as a black moon and I liked macabre things so. And my birthday's in February, so that's true. It is. I always wished that my mom had waited a couple of weeks so that I could be a leap year kid, you know? Or were you born in leap year then? No, it would have been a couple of years
Dan:                                     15:30                    actually. I don't even know. I never thought about it just shattered your whole, your whole viewpoint of that. Goodness. Is Everything okay? You know what, but I will forgive her now for not holding it. Yeah. Because that's not really her fault.
Shauna:                               15:48                    All right, so we're going to get back to it. That's pretty much our, our phrase originated, uh, there are occasionally nights where the moon does appear in blue. That's the most likely origin, but it's a combination of the phrase blue moon being associated with something real, particularly in that Christian calendar,
Dan:                                     16:09                    but you. But that's not where the phrase originated. That's how it's used today. The way we talk about it today astronomically, how that came into view. But the phrase itself has been used much earlier than the 1946 misinterpretation and sky and telescope magazine, right?
Shauna:                               16:25                    Yes, absolutely. So I actually used that, relied on a, another linguist slash folklorist Philip Hitchcock at the Memorial University of new found land and Newfoundland, Newfoundland.
Dan:                                     16:43                    Dan for the future here. It turns out it's Newfoundland. Nobody says Lund at the end of it. Go to trails pod. And check out this awesome video we found on youtube that really helps understand how it was pronounced. Newfoundland. Okay. Back to the pod.
Shauna:                               17:00                    Oh, good. Are freeze has been in use for over 400 years in a 2012 article in sky and telescope magazine.
Dan:                                     17:08                    They're really all over the bed. They're there. Hey Sky everyone I guess goes subscribed the sky and telescope magazine. I don't know
Shauna:                               17:16                    if you like astronomy. They're pretty decent actually there. They're awesome. Never heard of them, but all right. So uh, Philip shared that the earliest use of the term was similar to saying the moon is made of green cheese, which indicated something was absurd. He would argue that the moon is blue, was similar to saying he would argue that black is white. The meaning evolved to something akin to saying never. For example, our marry you. When the moon turns blue became the equivalent of I'll marry you when pigs fly a. So you said four years ago. So what does that, what does that probably look like realistically? Like when are we seeing this? Uh, tested possibly dates back to medieval England. There was a work by William Barlow titled The treatise of the variable of the Massey published in 15, 28 and that included a reference to a blue moon. If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true rhyming. Yay. Good job. However, I think we were getting a little bit of sarcasm actually knows that was sarcasm. William Barlow, like the, like the Dr Seuss of his time, but the sarcastic.
Shauna:                               18:26                    So he's like, just don't believe anything you read on the Internet. That's fair. Um, I found the book online but was unable to find a copy unless I wanted to travel to Philadelphia, which I do, but don't have time for that this week. So I've realized that already going to Seattle at the end of the week. Yes, pod can tell. Hit Us up if you're there, we'll talk about it later. We are relying on some really valuable research from other word lovers for the accuracy of those older quotes. The first time. Our phrase really picked up in the 18 hundreds and so the first time we see at a tested according to the Oxford English dictionary is from Pierce Egan in real life in London or the rambles and adventures of Bob Tallyho, esquire and Tom Daschel through the metropolis by an amateur. I'm going to continue to hold to my belief that we have not done enough to really stretch out book titles anymore.
Shauna:                               19:25                    Book titles are so short these days. They are and they don't talk about nearly downtown's like that's like this really short. Yeah. Come on John. Unless you know what a paper town is, which he explained by the time you're done with the book, but I think is part of the point of some titles is like then you kind of, it unfolds as you read it and it makes it a better story when you finally get what the title is referencing, you're like, oh, I get it. And you feel more a part of the story. Let's see. Well I take it back, John. Good job. I guess. I know he's so good at that. Best Seller. We're seeing thing words. John Green. What a great words. Or uh, what was I? Oh yeah. So the quote from Pearson again, 18, 21. How's Harry and been haven't seen you this blue moon.
Shauna:                               20:13                    And then in quotatations, or in parentheses, Note Blue Moon. This is usually intended to imply a long time in the entire, like in his book he said this. Yeah, he wanted to give the readers, you know, that ability to, to be a part of that story. So Pierce would be implying that this is not a commonly used phrase at this point, but it is because it was used in some circles and so he wanted people to understand that. Yes, and I think that's one of those where you, it was probably in the lexicon that entire time and never really entirely fell away, but then gained popularity and well and now here in the 18 hundreds, it's okay to put it in literature, which is what tend to find the entire phrase once in a blue moon was used in 1833 in Athenian. We are no advocates for the eternal system of producing foreign operas to the exclusion of the works of English composers. But once in a blue moon, such a thing maybe allowed very exclusive
Dan:                                     21:12                    This still doesn't man, like so many of the idioms still, we really can't pin down like where, how it became what I mean like how it became once in a blue moon meant every so often.
Shauna:                               21:25                    And I, I love it. I did more research for this one probably than I've done for any other phrase because I kind of fell down my own rabbit holes of bunny trails of astronomy that I love, but uh,
Dan:                                     21:37                    so we definitely are at a point where we know that it, that it may have been used blue moon to me, never in the 15 hundreds in the 18 hundreds. It really started picking up steam as a colloquialism of some sort and uh, but we still don't really have a good handle on why once in a blue moon is a thing,
Shauna:                               21:58                    right. And, uh, we won't.
Dan:                                     22:02                    Well, we might, it depends on what gets uncovered later. So, spoiler for this episode. Well, today's show is sponsored by our patrons on Patreon special thanks to our logamorphology interns, Charlie Morton, Pat Rowe for sponsoring this episode. is a subscription service that allows you to support content creators you love. It's free to sign up and follow along if you're in a financial situation that allows for monetary support, you can get additional perks for as little as a dollar a month. Features like early access to episodes behind the scenes content bonus episodes and more are all available at trails pod. If you're going to be in Seattle at pod con this weekend, definitely join us there. We will. We're going to probably be doing a lot of the workshops. I think we're going to try and maybe get an episode recorded there at Pod Con. We're not presenting or anything. We're just attending because we're big fans of podcasts, but there's a lot of, uh, there's a lot of workshops and things that I think are going to be really interesting, a lot of good information to learn. So if you're going to be there, hit us up on twitter or Patreon and uh, maybe we can do a meetup and a catch up.
Shauna:                               23:08                    Yeah, it'd be really neat to say hello in person to some of our awesome listeners. We still hear blue moon the phrase all the time. Um, one of my favorites is the Song Blue Moon, which was written by Rodgers and Hart in Nineteen 34,
Speaker 3:                          23:23                    which a phenomenal. A songwriting team.
Shauna:                               23:26                    Yes, absolutely. One of my favorites. Um, it's been performed by many greats, Billie holiday, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley probably made it the most popular, I think being crosby as well, and those are just a few of the like literal greats in music. Who performed that song? Blue Moon. You saw me standing alone. Such a, Oh my heart. Was that a love of my own. That was impressive that we got that organized and everything. And then we called attention to it once in a blue moon is also a very popular, a movie title here are just a few over the years, in 1935, once in a blue moon, a group of Russian nobles fleeing the Bolshevik revolution meet up with a traveling circus to escape their pursuers. They disguise themselves as members for their circus troupe. Nice. Again in 1995, same title. This was a so it was released in 1995, but it is about late 19 sixties suburban Canadian children who work on building a rocket vessel with the intention of delivering one or two neighborhood children to the moon.
Shauna:                               24:41                    While so dealing with social issues of the coming of age orphanhood and family veins, it is just like children to be like, we're going to go to the moon to escape all this. Right. But only two of us can go, but we're all gonna work together so that at least you can live a good life on the. I would go to the moon, but it just doesn't have any atmosphere. No, that was terrible. Like paper. It's terrible. Uh, do you know how you can tell that something's a dad joke when the punchline becomes apparent? Oh, that's funny in two ways. So punny, uh, 2011. Once in a blue moon. Again, the, again, it's not part of the title. During the Christmas season, a feisty young woman fights the effects of a love potion while trying to save her toy store from being taken over by a sinister competitor.
Shauna:                               25:36                    It's like a hallmark movie. There's a lot going on there. I love potion. And her toy stores can be a hallmark movie because in a hallmark movie, she doesn't want to love the guy. And then she falls in love with the guy. And he somehow saves her business and then they have children Miraj miraculously like they adopted five children or something at the end. That's usually hallmark. Oh, I thought you were saying horrible. More recently, 2018, a New Zealand thriller called Blue Moon Businessmen. Horace Jones is deep in debt while his family thinks he is in Hong Kong on a business deal, he is overtly working a deadly quiet night shift at his own service station to make ends meet. When a suspicious looking character expires in the stations toilet clutching a large wad of cash, horses suddenly offered a very tempting opportunity to dispose of the evidence and solve his own financial problems. When a gang enforcer arrives at the station, store, the screws begin to turn on horses. Desperate scheme. This twisty realtime thriller from Steven Harris was nimbly staged and shot on an iphone entirely within and around a Tuka petrol station in the wee small hours of the morning. Round New Zealand. Man, that's crazy. Also, it's Stephanie Harris. Stephens. Sorry, Stephen. Sorry about that. Come on the show. We'll talk about it. That's fine.
Shauna:                               27:05                    In July of 2018 at crissy cherish on twitter shared, you know that point where a novel plot falls into place where you figure out how all the threads tie up. I'm having that kind of writing day. Hashtag good writing Hashtag once in a blue moon. Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Because I'm all like, no, I don't think I'd know that know, like, and Kudos you Christine as a writer, I never.
Speaker 3:                          27:31                    Everything falls in line and it's all like all the worlds because I do have those kinds of days but it's when I'm in the shower or when I'm, you know,
Shauna:                               27:40                    not at 25 minutes away from being able to put anything down on paper or mark anything. I don't have anything with me and by the time I get to my phone to record it or not, all of it. And so I was like, it all. Or like I was asleep and I was like, it all made sense now. And then I get up to write it down and I'm like, what? I've lost it. This is why I've taken to carrying a pad of paper a, a, this is why I've taken to carrying a notebook with me everywhere I go so that you can, you know, in a moment, write anything down. Nice. Although when I have it, I never seem to think of anything. It's like it's the anti, the anti creative idea device. Okay. So this phrase is fantastic. Of course I loved it from the get go, um, and it's just got so much a crazy history that we couldn't actually pinned down to it and there are a lot of uses for it. It was a blast to research and I could probably spend like another two hours sharing all the ridiculous things that I found associated with this, this phrase. But I think we'll,
Speaker 3:                          28:42                    I'd be curious for you as the listener, if you have any thoughts or things that you've heard about blue moons or once in a blue moon, then, uh, definitely hit us up and send it over to our Patreon and we'll continue the conversation there.
Shauna:                               28:54                    So that about wraps us up for today. Thanks so much for joining us. I'd also like to say a big thank you to those who've posted reviews for our show, leaving the review as really easy and it's the best way to support our show it festival. It's totally free throughout the week. You can also catch us on twitter and instagram and sometimes on facebook all at bunny trails pod.
Speaker 3:                          29:15                    If you have a suggestion for an idiom or other turn of phrase, catch us on social media or head over to patreon and let us know. We post most of our additional content on Patreon and you can follow along there for free. Of course, if you want to support the show through monetary means, we're okay with that too. Either way, head over to for all of the latest content. Thanks again for joining us. We'll talk to you again next week and until then, remember, words belong to their users.

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