The student (actually) involved in the conversation asked if the blueberry debate had anything to do with how blueberries grow, and started talking about the mechanics of a blueberry bush. I, a mommy, offered, "Thanks, now I have Yertle the Turtle stuck in my head." The other two, not mommies, in fact childless (I believe) older men, looked at me like I was crazy. I explained that it's a Dr. Seuss book I read to my kid, gave the general premise of the story - the king turtle wants to rule more, so he builds a higher throne out of his turtley subjects - and then quoted the section in question, "I'm king of a house, and what's more, beyond that, I'm king of a blueberry bush and a cat. I'm Yertle the Turtle, O marvelous me, for I am the ruler of all that I see." Blueberry bush. See?
As it turns out, the director was in a "former life" a pretty big fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who, he informed me, put out a song called "Yertle the Turtle" on one of their albums. I had to check this out. Today, I finally remembered to.
I hit up seeqpod today and, sure enough, there's a "Yertle the Turtle" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's excruciatingly long and only about a quarter, maybe a third of it has lyrics, none of which I could understand so I had to look them up and read along. Most of the lyrics are taken straight from the book, though it rearranges a bit in the second part and totally leaves out the moral ending. Whatever, my point in looking it up was just to see if it existed and what it sounded like, not to critique a song released in 1985. Yes, Virginia, it does exist.
While listening and reading, I became curious to see if there were a music video and, if so, if it incorporated images from the book or was just kind of a bunch of metalheads bouncing around or what. A YouTube search later, I found myself distracted by a reading of the book put to images and events from the Bush administration. Funny, because I'd kind of made the relation myself before as well. One of the comments on the video states, "Mr. Suess said that Yertle the Turtle was in fact Adolf Hitler." I thought to myself, "No way, really?" and immediately went to Wikipedia to find out if this is true, because Wikipedia knows everything. Everything.
It is, in fact, true. The Wikipedia article also notes, completely irrelevant of what I was looking to find, that the story is written "using a type of meter called anapestic tetrameter." Click. Anapestic tetrameter, it explains, "is a poetic meter that has four anapestic metrical feet per line. Each foot has two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable. It is sometimes referred to as a "reverse dactyl." Click. A modern example of a dactyllic meter is the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." I remembered hearing that this particular song was pretty much drug-induced, and wondered if that were true. Click. It isn't. The song was actually inspired by a drawing John Lennon's son, Julian, had done in school. And now you know.
Back to the original query on Yertle the Turtle, I found a curious tidbit in the "In popular culture" section indicating that, "In an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa Simpson remarks that "Yertle the Turtle" is possibly the best book written on turtle stacking." There's a link referenced with the phrase "turtle stacking"? Click. This article makes a lot of references to a supposed (but not necessarily) Hindu belief that the Earth is balanced on the back of an elephant, who is standing on the back of a tortoise, the problem with this being, "What is below the tortoise?" and the response being that it's "turtles all the way down." Apparently this is a major cultural reference, sometimes called the "turtle problem," which Wikipedia further explains, "often arises in debates pertaining to creationism, for instance in the debate over intelligent design and its postulated intelligent designer. By raising the question of the need for a designer, intelligent design also raises the question, "what designed the designer?" according to critics."
To recap, today I have learned about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hitler, poetry meters, the Beatles, and philosophical arguments about creation.
And to think, this all started with the mention of a blueberry bush.