Tag: It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

Over There, the Rain Beats Down Old Ladies with Ugly Sticks

 

In English, we say, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” Explanations for why we say this are numerous, and all fairly dubious. In other lands, other stuff falls from the sky during heavy storms. In Croatia, axes; in Bosnia, crowbars (I’m sensing a pattern here); in France and Sweden, nails. In several countries, heavy rain falls like pestle onto mortar. In English, it may also rain like pitchforks or darning needles. While idioms describing heavy rain as the piss from some great creature (a cow or a god) may not be surprising, a few idioms kick it up a notch (so to speak), describing the rain as falling dung.

And then there are the old ladies falling out of skies. Sometimes with sticks, sometimes without. Sometimes old ladies beaten with ugly sticks. The Flemish say, het regent oude wijven — it’s raining old women. The Afrikaners, more savagely, arm the old women with clubs: ou vrouens met knopkieries reën. Yes, good ol’ knobkerries — ugly sticks, indeed! Afrikaners and the Flemish speak variants of Dutch, so it’s not surprising they share cataracts of crones, armed or not. Why the Welsh also share them is more of a mystery, but yn’ Gymraeg, again we find old ladies raining with sticks: mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn. Traveling to Norway, we find the outpouring of old ladies beaten with the ugly sticks: det regner trollkjerringer — it’s raining she-trolls.

Cloudburst — only a paper cloud?

 

“Tell me, burnt earth: Is there no water? Is there only dust? Is there only the blood of bare-footed footsteps on the thorns?” “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

Eric Whitacre is a conductor and composer with matinee-idol good looks, personal magnetism, a slick marketing strategy, and arguably common sense, too: he recommends young composers not waste time acquiring training in academic theory beyond what they need to write music that sounds good. Whitacre is beloved in the choral world, but also, sometimes, disdained — for being overrated (he is, although overrated can still be good), for being gimmicky (also true, though his gimmicks often land), and for writing music “suffused with a sense of easy spiritual uplift… Everything [is] maximally radiant and beautiful, and beautifully sung. And that [is] the problem.”

If that’s the problem, it’s a problem many composers would like to have. Or at least it’s a problem many performing musicians wish the composers whose music they have to perform had. Our disdainer continues, “Whitacre is so sincere I suspect he would glow in the dark.”

It’s Raining at the Movies

 

Somewhere, there’s got to be a meteorlogically minded film fanatic (in the British Isles would be my first guess) who has probably compiled a list of every major rain scene in the movies. Well, this post is not that list. No Baby, the Rain Must Fall. No Rains of Ranchipur. Next time, Blade Runner. Back off, Back to the Future Part II.

These notes are only a few impressionistic sketches of rain and a few of its cinematic uses, to darken the deeper notes of drama or even, once in a while, to express the simple joy of splashing in puddles. That’s why Singin’ in the Rain (1952) begins this post, although the one scene everyone remembers is less remembered for its singing, but its dancing, joyously embracing the rain as a romance begins.

Raining Cats and Dogs: Bob and Me

 

When Marie and I sat down in the doggie greeting room at the Portland Humane Society, a little light-brown mutt with short legs and a smile on his face trotted in and adopted us.

Bob the dog had been just a few days from being euthanized in a shelter in Fresno, California, when the Portland Humane Society, a no-kill shelter, told Fresno that it would take in a few of their dogs. Bob was in that lucky lot.