Monday, April 25, 2016

How many miles to Babylon?

How many miles to Babylon?
Threescore miles and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?
Yes, and back again.
If your heels are nimble and light,
You may get there by candle-light.

I leapt out of my seat, waved the book of nursery rhymes at Jonathan, and shrieked, "Look at this! It's a Babylon candle! I found Babylon candles! It's like in Stardust!"

Jonathan is used to my reading habits. He put down his book that he was reading, accepted the tome of nursery rhymes, and agreed, yes, it was definitely where Neil Gaiman got the idea for Babylon candles. I have tracked down a reference in its native habitat!

 If you don't remember, Stardust is a fantasy film from about ten years ago with Claire Danes and Robert de Niro and a bunch of people. The hero and the star do, indeed, travel by Babylon candle. The movie makes a joke of it -- the star knows what they're called, but as the hero had never heard of them, he refers to them as "bubbling" candles and she corrects him. I hadn't realized they were a thing outside that story.

The wiki page on "How many miles to Babylon" mentions that it used to be a game like sharks and minnows, where the kids stand in two lines, sing the song, and the "shark" tries to catch them when they run back and  forth. I'm thinking we need to start playing this game again.

Because traveling by candle-light is definitely the coolest.