Originally found at:

http://www.catalog.com/mrm/zappa/html/zircon.html (which is no longer active)


What about Zircon encrusted tweezers?
   Article 401 of alt.fan.frank-zappa:
   From: rabin@CS.Yale.Edu (Dan Rabin)
   Newsgroups: alt.fan.frank-zappa
   Subject: Re: More terminology?  (was Re: zappa terminology)
   Date: 1 Apr 92 17:26:57 GMT
   Reply-To: rabin-dan@cs.yale.edu
   Organization: Computer Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-2158
  

In article <1992Apr01.192711.42914@yuma.acns.colostate.edu> millerje@CS.ColoState.EDU (Jeff Miller) writes:

What about "Zircon encrusted tweezers"? I've wondered about the relevance of this ever since I bought ' (apostrophe) The zircon-encrusted tweezers appear on `Overnite Sensation', both in `Montana' (`with a pair of zircon-encrusted tweezers in my hand / every other wrangler would say I was mighty grand’) and in `Dinah Moe Humm' (`How about a pair of zircon-encrusted tweezers? Hold on a minute, lemme sterilize 'em...’).

Do they occur anywhere on `'` (apostrophe)? Of course, you didn't say that they did, just that you've been wondering about them ever since you bought `'` (apostrophe); :-). But in fact these tweezers have deep significance. In the days of the Wild West, prospectors used to adorn even the simplest of implements with precious substances. This was a badge of prestige: the more precious the substance, and the more closely related to the task of discovering ore, the higher the imputed skill of the prospector. Hence a gold-covered pick-axe was one of the marks of a master prospector--only three hardy miners are known for sure to have carried such a tool (although several additional unverified accounts are recorded in the newspapers of the time). It was a grave _faux pas_ for a newcomer or a non-prospector to display an ornamented utensil out of keeping with his (or her) demonstrated skill. Saloon fights and gun duels over this issue were not uncommon. However, the human urge to adorn useful objects is not easily repressed. During the decade-long (c. 1885-95) period in which the prospecting and trapping economy of the Wild West was slowly giving way to the ranching- and agriculture-based economy of the twentieth century, the newly-arrived dental-floss farmers of Montana found it safest to leave their heavier implements in their plain state, and to carry zircon- or rhinestone-encrusted forceps, nail-clippers, or stud-finders as an outlet for their ornamental urges. They looked handsome enough, and the knowledgeable prospectors, being unlikely to mistake zircons for diamonds, would leave them in peace to raise their lonely dental floss. Thus, by placing a pair of zircon-encrusted tweezers in the hands of his dental-floss-farmer-to-be in `Montana', Zappa is displaying an intimate awareness of the culture of the Wild West, now vanishing under a carpet of fast-food joints and auto dealers. Their presence in the ribald account of the anonymous narrator's encounter with Dinah and Dora in `Dinah Moe Humm' links the ornamental urge to the sexual urge, and perhaps adumbrates the composer/librettist's future explorations of the theme of sex with inanimate objects in `Sy Borg', `Briefcase Boogie', and `Stevie's Spanking'. The conceptual continuity, the `crux of the biscuit,' as it were, is thus conceptually continuous with _cultural_ continuity in the works of Frank Vincent Zappa, Jr., the very quintessence, not only of the American Composer, but also of the Composer _in_ and _of_ America.

-- Dan Rabin,
1 April, 1992