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Apr 28, 2019
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AWADmail Issue 878

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: Are you looking for the perfect present for know-it-all dads and grads? The Official Old’s Cool Education is “The Holy Trinity of wit, knowledge, and fun and games,” and is chock-a-block full of gee whiz, Shakespeare, history, soap-making, sports, anecdotes and quotes, Price’s Law, and diamonds and pearls of wisdom. We’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Eric Miller (see below), as well as all the what-do-I-get-the-man-who-has-everything AWADers a “Buy Two, Get Three: special through midnight Monday. Gift problems solved >

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Croesus

Solon’s reply “Consider no one happy until he is dead,” paraphrased, is also the closing line of the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. “... let none / Presume on his good fortune until he find / Life, at his death, a memory without pain.” (W.B. Yeats’s translation)

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Michael Moore thought of the day

Somehow, I don’t think Jesus came to Earth to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Of course not. He came to do a hostile takeover of the Holy Land from the Romans.

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Mike Cottrell (mikelaine.cottrell btopenworld.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fortean

In the UK we have a monthly magazine called the Fortean Times which is full of this weird stuff. I am not a subscriber, but it appears that nearly 15,000 of my fellow-Brits read it. Which is weird in itself.

Mike Cottrell, Shropshire, UK

From: Simon Delali Nordjo (nosidel2kl gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fortean

Charles Hoy Fort once wrote, “I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written.” That’s all you need to know about the paranormal phenomena.

When Charles wrote that, did it include the statement itself (above) or not?
If it does not, then it is untrue and could have been redefined.
If it does, what was he talking about again?
It is tantamount to saying “nonsense is nonsense”, of course it is “nonsense”!

Simon Delali Nordjo, Accra, Ghana

Email of the Week brought to you by The Wicked/Smart Word Game -- One Up! Princeton with impunity >

From: Eric Miller (ericmiller1957 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--apollo

A few comments are needed about the usage example: “[Billy] is an Apollo, filled with goodness and innocence.”

Apollo was indeed the most beautiful of the Greek gods, but he was in no way good or innocent. His original mythic function was as the cold-hearted destroyer/killer of young warriors. (Think of Book One of the Iliad.) Indeed, ancient Greek folk-etymology believed that his name derived from the verb “apollymi” (to kill, murder, destroy). All his other functions: medicine (healing wounds), arts (telling stories about heroes/warriors; funeral music), prophecy (will I die in this battle?) derive from that original role.

Apollo was also the last god you ever wanted to offend. Stories of his deadly wrath abound. Think Marsyas. Think, again, Book One of the Iliad.

R. M. Campbell, of your usage example, falls into the (modern) trap of believing that beauty and goodness necessarily go together. The ancient Greeks had no such illusions: for them, extreme beauty was, above all, terrifying and deadly. (See also how the Trojans speak about Helen’s beauty in Book Three of the Iliad.)

Eric Miller, Norwich, Vermont

From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Zoilus

Ironic that none of Zoilus’s writings survive, and he, unlike Homeros, is known only from other authors’ references to his works.

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Zoilus

The late Robert Hughes (1938-2012), expat Aussie, and longtime principal art critic for TIME magazine, would have proudly worn the mantle of Zoilus. Here was a thoughtful, discerning, acerbic aesthete, and stellar wordsmith, who would never suffer fools gladly, particularly those high-profile “artistes” of his day whose out-sized egos and constant extolling of their creative gifts often didn’t reflect the import or caliber of their works.

I recall when American sculptor/painter/conceptual-artist Jeff Koons had established himself on the scene with his kitschy, often banal, pop-culture-infused, heavily-glazed poly-chromed ceramic sculptures, and multiple variations of floating-basketballs-in-aquariums pieces. The ever-verbose Koons was wont to philosophize on his artistic intent, sharing his conceptual musings, over-explaining the inspiration behind a particular piece, while losing most of his bemused audience along the way. Critic Hughes was quick to pounce on Koons, admonishing him for what he deemed his largely trite works, which as he (Hughes) pointed out were mostly crafted by others (skilled assistants and tried craftsmen), and not Koons himself. Koons would contend that he was, foremost, an “idea man”... in other words, the brains behind his alleged masterworks. Essentially, critic Hughes portrayed Koons as a bit of a showman/charlatan. And yet this braggadocio artist has risen to the rarified heights of the global fine arts market, commanding ten of thousands, I dare say, millions for his works in auction house, corporate, and gallery sales.

Ultimately, an art Zoilus can only speak to his own truth as he, or she, perceives it. The art appreciators out there, and the buying public, are really the ultimate arbiters, reflecting the full gamut of taste and the broad range of aesthetic intelligence.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Kiko Denzer (potlatch cmug.com)
Subject: Ludwig

I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves. -Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher (26 Apr 1889-1951)

Well, the quotation did get me to look up the poor man on Wikipedia. No wonder he couldn’t enjoy life: autocratic, controlling father; three brothers who committed suicide; way too much money; and a society that applauded him for abandoning any attachment to anything but his own thoughts.

But he’s a hero in the history of philosophy. What’s up with that? Last week, I came across recent research into possible evolutionary changes in brain structure resulting in psychiatric disease (bi-polar and other disorders). Whaddya know, mental activity changes brain structure, especially if you favor left- over right-brain functions. Who woulda guessed? Then again, there’s the old prescription for depression: Take a walk in the woods. Do something with your hands. Help others (unfortunately, when Wittgenstein tried to help others by becoming a teacher, his response to wrong answers or stupidity was violence). Why do we think what people say is more significant than what they do...?

Kiko Denzer, Blodgett, Oregon

From: Michael Sivertz (sivertz bnl.gov)
Subject: A thought for today

I have read and appreciated the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein. And I always enjoy your “A Thought for Today”. But today it fills me with dismay. I am a scientist and resist belief in anything until I see evidence for it.

Humans have a powerful urge to place themselves at the center of all things.
“God created man in His image.”
“Earth is the center of the universe.”
“Humans are the pinnacle of creation/evolution.”

When looking for the answer to the question “Why are we here?”, I would say that the evidence indicates we are a cosmic fluctuation. A slight warp in the fabric of entropy. And anyone who insists that we have some higher purpose might be biased a bit in favour of their own importance. Some people tell me that my outlook is depressing and hopeless. But for me it is freeing, and the exact opposite of Wittgenstein. We are here for no reason at all. But as long as we are here, we have the freedom to choose to either enjoy the daily parade, or not. I choose to enjoy.

Michael Sivertz, Upton, New York

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. adonis
2. croesus
3. fortean
4. apollo
5. zoilus
1. peerless lad
2. I met wealth!
3. spooky
4. son of Zeus, hero
5. sanctimonious
1. adonis
2. croesus
3. fortean
4. apollo
5. zoilus
1. I, stud
2. Ma
3. fey
4. I, so cool (as Zeus’ son) lol
5. poor panner
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Limericks

The ladies enthralled by Adonis
Would wonder what number his phone is.
“No, before I reveal it,”
He’d say, “I must feel it,
To know where your ‘rogenous zone is.”
-Rob Arndt, Houston, Texas (theveryword aol.com)

The hunk that we met one night, browsing,
Knew his good looks our blood was arousing.
As the steamy Adonis
Showered kisses upon us,
We vowed to spend more time carousing.
-Steve Cabito, Santa Rosa, California (stevecabito gmail.com)

We girls who fall for an Adonis
bring all kinds of sorrow upon us.
we learn to our pain
most are selfish and vain.
I speak from experience, hones’.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“If you fly off to Sydney on Qantas,”
Said Moishe, “You’ll meet some Adonis.
But I’m telling you, daughter,”
He said as he fought her,
“Down under, their founders were goniffs.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Bernie’s cute but not quite an adonis
But who else can the Dems cast upon us?
Joe Biden takes pride in
His smooth hands that glide in
So who else have we got? Pocahontas?
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

Assessing her current young swain,
says she, “Well, it’s hard to explain.
The would-be Adonis
is beer, with no promise
of ever becoming champagne!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

An Adonis he’s certainly not,
With that belly that looks like a pot.
Despite his physique,
He’s just what I seek,
For his trust fund is worth quite a lot.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

You can tell by those tweets every morn
That our laws are just objects of scorn.
This wannabe Croesus
Is trying to fleece us,
But I bet it’s the king who’ll be shorn.
-Steve Cabito, Santa Rosa, California (stevecabito gmail.com)

Though they knew it was malapropos,
his sons grew impatient, and so
they asked the old Croesus,
“When you predecease us,
where’s all of your dough gonna go?”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There once was a monkey, a rhesus,
whose owners were wealthy as Croesus;
when he ran with the money.
the husband said “Honey,
I never suspected he’d fleece us!”
-Gordon Tully, Norwalk, Connecticut (gordon.tully gmail.com)

“Would you rather be wealthy as Croesus,
Or have stature like Mother Teresa’s?”
Fred Trump asked his son,
Who then said of the nun,
“We should charge her more rent on her leases.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Trump’s worth a gazillion or three;
Like Croesus, he’s rich as can be.
That’s what he proclaims,
But he’s playing games --
His taxes he won’t let us see.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With regard to his fortean tale
that a spectre stood shrouded in veil
at the stroke of midnight
had impelled death by fright:
if I’m asked, thought he'd drunk too much ale.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

A Fortean tale I once read
Of spirits returned from the dead.
That’s not a big deal
For sometimes I feel
My mother lives on in my head.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said The Donald to Pence, “I don’t follow
Why the Dems think I’m hateful and hollow.
They don’t get the real me,
If they did they would see
Why Vlad thinks I am such an Apollo.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Explaining her sad disarray,
she sighs, “When he said ‘twas just play,
I decided to follow
that lying Apollo.
Alas, the cad led me astray!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“If you’re President and an Apollo,”
Says Donald, “your bulls--t they swallow.
Though you lie, cheat, and steal,
No indictment’s the deal;
When it’s over, I’ll move to São Paulo.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In my youth every jock and Apollo
Got the girls despite heads that were hollow.
A boy who was clever,
It seemed, might forever
In virginal misery wallow.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

On Facebook a great guy I’ve found,
A fellow with looks that astound.
He seems to be Greek;
He’s just what I seek --
To follow Apollo I’m bound!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With ego filled up to the brim
He calls up his vain pseudonym.
As he stares in the mirror
It couldn’t be clearer,
Apollo stares proudly at him.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Until recently, Anu would spoil us,
But this new guy named Phil is a Zoilus!
“If your work, Steve, contains
A near rhyme,” he mansplains,
“Your poetic career will be joyless.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When Kellyanne’s husband speaks out,
A Zoilus is he, there’s no doubt.
He hates Donald Trump,
For whom she did stump --
So what do they chit-chat about?
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Mom insisted that we do our best.
We worked hard in school at her bequest.
A bit of a Zoilus,
she’d push us, not spoil us.
Why couldn’t she give it a rest?
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Cry the restaurateurs, “We’ll unite!
Then mysteriously, some dark night,
this food-critic Zoilus
who’s trying to foil us
might just disappear from our sight!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Oh, bosh! Is Hieronymus eponymous?

“When it’s cold outside adonis here overcoat.”

I don’t like croesus in my $100 bills.

People who saw Poltergeist in theatres are fortean older now.

“Your tweets and actions apollo you worst president ever!”

On opening night, Broadway producers say, “I hope the critics don’t zoilus with their reviews.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story. -Terry Pratchett, novelist (28 Apr 1948-2015)

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