Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Sep 12, 2021
This week’s theme

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
There’s a word for it

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1002

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

Sponsor’s Message: Wicked sick and tired of social distancing? Then try some intellectual distancing instead: THE OFFICIAL OLD’S COOL EDUCATION II is “The Holy Trinity of wit, knowledge, fun and games,” three pocket-sized handbooks that are chock-a-block full of gee-whiz, Shakespeare, history, how-tos, sports, wit, and recalcitrance. There are also principles (Pareto, Peter), poetry, and trivia: What is Sleeping Beauty’s real name? How many towns are there in America? We’re offering a ludic and lovely call to intellectual adventure, a wild, edifying ride for less than a twenny. Buy Two, Get Three Special offer ends at midnight tonight.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

China Increasingly Rejects English, and the World
The New York Times

Reviving a Once-Forbidden Dialect: “All French Is Good French”
National Geographic

The Hand Gestures That Last Longer Than Spoken Languages

From: Anu Garg (words wordsmith.org)
Subject: Personal eponyms

So many stories, heartwarming, funny, and more, came in in response to my call asking readers for words coined after someone they know personally. Here’s a selection from their home-grown eponyms:

I have a friend who’s husband’s name is Kevin. He is exactly 6’ tall. She measures things in Kevins, both full and partial Kevins.
-Liisa Beckman, Saint Anthony, Minnesota (beckm012 umn.edu)

When we started making Toy Story I was the entire Layout department. We soon realized that one person was not going to keep up with setting up shots for all the animators, so I started getting help. One of the very first was Ewan Johnson, who ended up being a very helpful and skilled artist. By the middle of production I noticed that a lot of his camera suggestions involved either translating the camera a bit right and then panning left, or translating left and panning right. In other words, getting a slightly different perspective from one side or the other of the character we were focusing on. I started calling those Ewans, as in “Let’s Ewan the camera to the left” which eventually became simply “Ewan left”.
We kept using that verb for years after Ewan was no longer in the department and, as I recall, even after he left Pixar.
-Craig Good, Vallejo, California (clgood me.com)

I made a dress for my four-year-old granddaughter, Mabel, and embroidered a large M on the front. She tried it on and looking down from above, disappointedly pointed out that her name started with M, not W. Misreading letters or numbers in this way are now known as Mabelisms in my family. A recent one was a mystery over a pie in the freezer with a pastry W on the top. It turned out to be meat.
-Gill Sims, Warwick, UK (oboeplayer hotmail.co.uk)

Many years ago an elderly friend named Margaret Gump came to our house every Sunday to join us for a home-made soup and crusty bread lunch. Margaret, having lived alone her entire adult life, was set in her ways and she liked her soup hot. Really hot. It was not unusual for her to ask me to heat up her soup just seconds after I served it to her. Decades later I occasionally ask my wife if her soup is hot enough. She usually replies “Yes, its fine. But its not Margaret Gump hot.” Soup at any temperature reminds us of a good friend from long ago.
-Bob Bauer, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (rincon1906 icloud.com)

When my husband and I were university students, we had a friend named Ellis. He was a kind and personable man who would never say a bad word to anyone. One day we presented him with an idea that he didn’t think was very good. Another person might have said, “Oh, that will never fly; it’s a bad idea.” But Ellis said “Hmmm, that’s (pause) interesting”. Henceforth, regarding a bad idea or bad anything, we say, “That’s interesting (pause) in an Ellisian sense”.
-Anne Robinson, Sherwood Park, Canada (al.robin9 gmail.com)

My dear mother was one of three very buxom sisters. Her maiden name was Thompson. I am one of three girls and when we were reaching maturity, it was very clear that my older sister and my younger sister inherited the Thompsonesque look and I did not. We three coined the word and use it to whisper to each other when we see a buxom woman. “She’s Thompsonesque!”
-Cindy Haynes, Bedford, Massachusetts (cbdhaynes gmail.com)

When I got married, long ago, last century, in France, my wife had an old aunt we called tante Simone. When the old lady was introduced to me, I was told she had been a beauty and my younger self found the whole idea preposterous. She would always come to family meetings with her comfortable garden chair that we called a tante Simone chair. She has been long dead but the family has purchased multiple chairs we still call “tante Simone”. I am the proud owner of a couple of tante Simones.
-Paul Varotsis, London, UK (paul varotsis.plus.com)

I once worked with a very large man whose last name was Lutz. Mr. Lutz was 6’6” tall and weighed 395 pounds. Our close circle of colleagues soon began to use Lutz as a unit of measure. “I think this elevator is rated at no more than six Lutz.” Mr. Lutz thought the whole thing amusing.
-Robert Sytek, Hilliard, Ohio (rjsytek gmail.com)

My ex had a fabulous tally of five separate vehicle collisions, over a couple of years, where he was waiting behind a car to pull out from a junction. Every time, he looked down the road, saw the way was clear, and pulled out -- only to smash into the back of the vehicle in front that had yet to exit the junction. Apparently it’s not always possible to learn through experience! Fortunately no injuries, but this type of collision became known as a Thomas throughout the local police force.
-Andrea Levett, Langford, UK (andrealevett hotmail.co.uk)

As a dog sitter, I see many dog personalities. There is one type who act like angels while I’m watching, but when my back is turned they will nudge and provoke another dog, try to steal someone else’s food, or coerce another dog to join them in sneaky mischief. When caught, they always look at me with wide innocent eyes and around at the other dogs as if to say “Which one of you did that?” Those dogs are my Eddie Haskells.
-Suzanne Carpenter, New Jersey (suzcarpenter verizon.net)

Sitting around a table for eight at the North Rim Lodge of the Grand Canyon, my mother-in-law asked her (now third ex-) husband to pass the coffee. He grabbed the pot and poured himself some first, draining it. Now when we ask a family member to pass something at the dinner table, we add, “Don’t LLoyd it.”
-Dweeb Zappa (via online comments)

Our last name is Houck. We regularly took our computer to the same local shop for repair. The owner told us that it had too many firewalls, protections, and whatnot loaded onto it. Later we found out that for years they referred to overloaded computers as having been Houcked.
-Sally Houck (via website comments)

When my family stays at a hotel, if one of us goes to shower and all the towels have been used, leaving only wet towels, we say that person has been Del Griffithed (after Del Griffith, played brilliantly by John Candy) in the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
-Heather Jones (via website comments)

My family name IS Johnson. Occasionally, when frustrating circumstances arise, e.g., dealing with an inept person (family members not excluded) or following a daisy chain of phone call holds and transfers, my patience runs out and I react. I overreact. That usually involves storming out of a store or hanging up precipitously. Inevitably, I am the one who suffers from this action, as I ultimately have to start the phone call over or return to the store to buy what I needed. I have three brothers. We share this unfortunate tendency. Our children call this “going Johnson”, as in “The salesperson kept pushing the warranty until Pop went all Johnson on him.”
-Jamie Johnson, Wellington, Texas (jamieojd gmail.com)

Being in an assisted living residence, sadly, we lose friends too often. One friend, Shirley, is by her daughter in an Alzheimer’s unit. While she was with us, she would forget to leave her napkin at the table. When one of us forgets to leave our napkin, we are being Shirley.
-Maureen Doyle, Brighton, Massachusetts (momcdo gmail.com)

As observant Jews, my family is part of a similar community. For the Passover holiday, it is traditional to thoroughly clean the house of all forms of leaven; the kitchen gets an especially thorough cleaning. About a week before Passover one year, our friends the Levins lamented that their electric stove had died. They were going shopping for a new stove, but at the last minute, they decided to ask an electrician friend to take a look at it. He quickly determined that in their cleaning under the stove, they had knocked the plug loose. Since then, whenever something fails to function because it is unplugged, we say it is Levinned.
-Bill Landau, Potomac, Maryland (pcguru.landau gmail.com)

In the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society there was a chorus member whose surname was McCall who always tried to maneuver herself so that she was front stage center. During a rehearsal, another chorus member tried to be front and center. The director turned to someone and said, “Look, she’s pulling a McCall!”
-Wesley Aman (via online comments)

Decades ago, we had a roommate named Dave who ran afoul of the law in a minor way. At that time, he was sentenced to community service that consisted of picking up trash alongside the highway. From that day to this my family refers to those workers as Daves.
-Elizabeth Kingson, Portland, Oregon (ekingson gmail.com)

In the card game of cribbage, getting zero points in a “crib”, while not overly rare, was unlucky. One of the regular cribbage players during my graduate year of college got more than his share of zeroes. His last name was Sweeney. For years, we called a zero crib a Sween.
-Dave Alden, Petaluma, California (davealden53 comcast.net)

A golfing buddy, Ray Harris, often comments on the result of a golf shot long before the results can be determined. After a swing, Ray will often say, “Good shot!”, and the ball quickly turns and goes into a bunker, out of bounds, or into a terrible lie. Ray is immediately blamed for the change of direction - you and your ball have been Harrissed.
-Glenn Camp, Southern Pines, North Carolina (gtcamper me.com)

Growing up in a small southern Ohio steel mill town of middle-to-lower-class families, most kept their homes neat and tidy. One family, though, the Fletchers, kept their structure and surrounds in disarray -- a real eyesore. For 65 years now whenever anyone in my family sees such a place, it’s a Fletchers.
-Paula McRorie. Mooresville, North Carolina (paulamac52 aol.com)

My husband (now in his 60s) went to school with a guy named Mike Kolter who used to regularly nod off during class. It got so pronounced that, if anyone nodded off, in any context, all the other guys said, “Oh, you’re pulling a Mike Kolter!” It still goes on today!
-Jackie Diehl, Houston, Texas (bestblockmom yahoo.com)

One of our childhood playmates named Cassie never grasped the point of a joke, especially the “knock, knock, who’s there?” jokes. Thus the word “Cassie” began as someone who didn’t get a. joke. It later morphed into any pointless joke, which then became known as a Cassie.
-Fran Glica, Lansdale, Pennsylvania (fhrg comcast.net)

My father, Edward, had the uncanny ability and/or good fortune to be able to find a parking space immediately adjacent to his destination. My husband, our kids, and I now refer to such parking spots as Edward spaces.
-Banna Rubinow, Oswego, New York (bannarubinow gmail.com)

Your request for an eponymous word from our lives brought to mind a word that only my husband and I share. Years ago, while renting a house in our early 20s, we had a housemate, Jimmy, who would often (always?) leave the kitchen cabinet doors wide open. So, if we ever enter a room and a cabinet door is open, we say, “Was Jimmy here?” or more often, “Who did a Jimmy?” or “Jimmy!”
-Robin Courtney Hadden, Huntington, Vermont (robin restinglion.com)

Aunt Frances was a master of the guilt trip. Now, when my sister and I are tempted to do the same, we remind each other: “Don’t pull a Frances.”
-Judith Fritsch, Yonkers, New York (hnjfritsch gmail.com)

Several years ago when my children were involved in youth ice hockey, one of the parents enjoyed pointing out that a two-goal lead was “the most dangerous lead in hockey”. Ever since then, such a point differential has been known to us as a Geiger lead, after our friend.
-Marco E. Graves, Portland, Maine (marcograves hotmail.com)

Here is an eponym from real life; Knoxism. Knox Martin is a living legend in the art world. In fact, he had a museum exhibition at the Arlington Museum of Art in Texas, entitled “Knox Martin, Living Legend”, last year. He also taught at the Art Students League in New York for 45 years. And he is very much loved and admired by his students and artist friends. He is 98. There are specific elements that he has gleaned from his intense study of art that he not only applies to his own work, but has imparted for all these years, and you can see these elements in his past student’s works today, and they are so refreshing to see. The top one is, carry a tube of white, because the use of white in a painting enlivens the whole work.
Another element is that all four corners are radically different. One more extremely important one is, the shapes in between are as charged as the forms they define. These are all demonstrable in the classes he is famous for. There are more elements, but the ones above are definite Knoxisms.
-Olivia Korringa, daughter, Old Tappan, New Jersey (Thetaland8 aol.com)

A couple of years ago, we were visiting cousins in Ireland and went to a local production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. It was well acted, but in the end had little or no meaning to any of us. Since then, any movie, TV show, or play that leaves us feeling no different than before it started, we call a Pinter. (Sorry Mr. Pinter. We have seen no other works by him, so can’t totally dismiss his talent.)
-Linda Karmann, Alanson, Michigan (lindakarmann hotmail.com)

I once worked with a software developer named Chumley. He was very smart but had a penchant for writing program code that was quite clever but very hard to follow, making it extremely difficult for other programmers to maintain. (He didn’t get the memo that says we shouldn’t write code for the computer to understand, we should write code for people to understand.) This was close to a decade ago, and to this day when we come across opaque program code with many layers of indirection and zero comments, we refer to that as Chumleyware.
-Walter Levy, Pikesville, Maryland (wlevy comcast.net)

When I was pregnant with my first son, many, many years ago, living in a tiny apartment with a minute kitchen near Regent’s Park, London, at one stage I was ordered to bed for a fortnight. A kind friend, Carmen, offered to come over on the middle Friday evening to help us through with her home-cooked potato omelet. And it was indeed delicious. We had never eaten better even in my mother-in-law’s commodious Madrid home. Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable evening. After our sending Carmen off with muchisimas affectionate gracias, my husband went into the kitchen and -- it’s told that it would have taken a magnifying glass to find one speck of wall, ceiling, table, chair, appliance, or cookbook that hadn’t participated in the preparation. So, not quite an eponym, rather, an eponymosity, from then on, a kind deed not totally free of complications has been known as a Carmenada. The gratitude is dominant, but --
-Christine San Jose, Honesdale, Pennsylvania (csj1501 gmail.com)

When someone was really annoying my father, he’d declare they were “a pain in the benish”. It wasn’t until I became an adult and actually asked him where the word benish came from that I learned it was the last name of a very bad boss he’d once had. Until that moment, I’d imagined it was a Yiddish word for butt.
-Christine Aiello, Haslett, Michigan (christine.r.aiello gmail.com)

You know how the rearview mirror in a car has a little toggle allowing the driver to adjust it so that, for example, someone else’s headlights won’t shine directly into her eyes? That’s called a stang-thing. Coined after Fr. Charles Stang, SJ, my high school physics professor who explained how light traveled and what that mirror did with it. I didn’t last long in his course, but the word my friend Charlie and I created in his honor lives on.
-Tom Mullooly, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (TMullooly foley.com)

My husband’s first name was Hoyt. As a child he had a reputation of being contentious and forever causing chaos. In the family such behavior was called being Hoyty.
-Jean Ellsworth, Visalia, California (toheandme sbcglobal.net)

My grandparents had acquaintances named Webb who were ungenerous. When offering around a plate of cookies, for example, they’d say “Take a lot. Take two.” So Webby became a synonym for stingy or thin. For example, my grandparents used powdered milk at their cabin. When my grandfather mixed up a batch that had too much water in it, my grandmother would say “Oh, this milk is Webby.”
-Paul Harris, Hastings on Hudson, New York (paul.harris harrisdevelop.com)

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--baedeker

The maps were so detailed that the Germans used them for what were called the Baedeker Blitz or Baedeker raids on England.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Kevin Miller (via website comments)
Subject: Baedeker

Stella Gibbons makes a very amusing reference to Baedekers in the foreword to her satiric novel Cold Comfort Farm:

And it’s only because I have in mind all those thousands of persons not unlike myself, who work in the vulgar and meaningless bustle of offices, shops and homes, and who are not always sure whether a sentence is Literature or whether it is just sheer flapdoodle, that I have adopted the method perfected by the late Herr Baedeker, and firmly marked what I consider the finer passages with one, two or three stars. In such a manner did the good man deal with cathedrals, hotels and paintings by men of genius. There seems no reason why it should not be applied to passages in novels.

It ought to help the reviewers, too.

Of course, the starred passages that follow are the most delightfully (and intentionally) turgid in the entire novel.

Kevin Miller, Southborough, Massachusetts

From: SarahRose Werner (swerner nbnet.nb.ca)
Subject: Whose mosaic?

America has been called a melting pot, but it seems better to call it a mosaic, for in it each nation, people, or race which has come to its shores has been privileged to keep its individuality, contributing at the same time its share to the unified pattern of a new nation. -King Baudouin of Belgium (7 Sep 1930-1993)

In response to King Baudoin of Belgium, I give you John Murray Gibbon, the author of Canadian Mosaic: The Making of a Northern Nation published in 1938. Gibbon contrasted Canada, where each cultural group retained a distinct identity, with the assimilationist “melting pot” of the United States. The mosaic still forms the basis of Canada’s multiculturalism policy.

SarahRose Werner, Saint John, Canada

From: Dennis Gittinger (dgitting twc.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zephyr

I learned the word zephyr in high school when I read: “If you dare breathe one balmy zephyr more I’ll fan your cheeks for you.”

So what literary character said that? The Internet makes it easy, of course.

Dennis Gittinger, San Antonio, Texas

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

In his poem Ode to the West Wind (i.e., zephyr), Shelley paints a different picture of this vernal benefactor, describing it as uncontrollable, emphasizing its stormy qualities, which cause the Mediterranean to be tumultuous with waves and the poet to fall among thorns and bleed.

Nevertheless, it welcomes its arrival, for if “Winter (sic!) comes, can Spring be far behind?” The latter imagery became a kind of watchword for the anti-communist movements in Eastern Europe, following the death of Stalin, culminating in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: zephyr

I wonder how many readers of my vintage (b. 1939) were brought up reading the Babar books, English translation of the French by Jean de Brunhoff. Babar was a wise and benevolent elephant who became king of his people. He had a whole group of close family and friends, among whom was the mischievous monkey, Zephyr -- always getting himself and others into scrapes. Thanks for reviving the memory.

Dr Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India

From: Robert J Tonos (rjtonos gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zephyr

As railroad buffs like me well know, the Burlington Railroad developed one of the first “streamliners” in the early 1930s. Because the Burlington’s rail network extended westward from Chicago, its advertising slogan was “Everywhere West.” In those days, of course, important passenger trains had names, e.g., 20th Century Limited, the Chief, etc. So, the Burlington christened their innovative, brand-new streamliner Zephyr. Eventually, the company developed a range of streamliners serving points west of Chicago, the California Zephyr, the Denver Zephyr, the Twin Zephyrs, the Nebraska Zephyr, etc.

Bob Tonos, Chicago, Illinois

From: Alan Ertle (medinfoco aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zephyr

Zephyr was also a model of Ford automobiles made in Britain.

It was also a model of Lincoln automobiles from 1936 to 1942.

The Mercury version of the Ford Fairmont was also called the Zephyr.

Alan Ertle, Sacramento, California

From: Russ Talbot (russted46 gmail.com)
Subject: Thought for the day

People forget years and remember moments.
-Ann Beattie, novelist (b. 8 Sep 1947)

The original’s better:

We do not remember days, we remember moments.
-Cesare Pavese, author (9 Sep 1908-1950)

Russ Talbot, Adelaide, Australia

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy The Official Old’s Cool Education II -- A fantastic gift.”

From: Janice Ife (ife magma.ca)
Subject: Today’s thought: (People forget years and remember moments. -Ann Beattie, novelist)

How true! As I read the thought moments came rushing back: the waitress at a cafe in London fussing over me because we hadn’t been in for a while and they thought we’d left the city. It turned out I was ill (“first we get you some chicken soup ... -- it went on from there. I nearly cried). Toasting Florence, Italy and Ottawa, Canada in another restaurant we frequented, because we’d tried all the “odd stuff” unfamiliar to us at the suggestion of the owner. The liquor was the infamous illegal one brewed in the hills around Florence and worth the headache the next morning. Free food at another restaurant because I let their cat lie on my lap during dinner -- he was cold and wet and no one else would let him on their laps. We spent six months in Europe many years ago -- I have a lot of restaurant stories.

The time a student asked if I gave out hugs; I dismissed the class for 10 minutes or so and hugged her and let her tell me what was going on. When I went out again the was a lineup of students wanting hugs. Far away from home for the first time for many of them. I remember the smile on the face of a student I called clever; he had difficulty learning but he knew the answer to my problem so I told it like it was.

I remember the time everyone cheered at a wildlife rehab centre when a baby racoon nestled over my shoulder for warmth peed on me -- it meant he no longer needed stimulation by someone every three hours or so.

And those you would swear you’d never forget: I remember the moment I was told I had cancer -- I said “what -- I’ve been kicking puppies all year?!?”. I’m fine, but I can’t tell you what year it was. The year my mother died -- I remember the call all right, it was late afternoon on a Friday and my parents’ 50th anniversary. Not the year though. And so many more memories, good and bad -- tied up in people and places but not time.

Thanks for the reminder of every one of the moments I cherish, especially after the last 72 weeks of anxiety, boredom, lockdown, and uncertainty. We need to remember.

Janice Ife, Merrickville, Canada

Zündapp Janus
Photo: The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum / Wikimedia
From: Braha Ahilea (bahilea research.haifa.ac.il)
Subject: Janus-faced

In the days of tiny bubble-cars, made in early post-war West Germany, a car called Janus was manufactured. It had one door facing the road forward, another door facing the road backward and two seats facing the rear door (for four adults total), and a tiny motorcycle engine between the backs of the seats. I saw one climbing the road fairly steeply to Jerusalem, elevation 800 meters, at a good pace.

Eliyahu Ahilea, Tel-Aviv, Israel

From: Edward P. McMorrow, Beverly, MA (edmcmorrow1 verizon.net)
Subject: Another Janus-faced leader

Former US President Donald Trump was certainly Janus-faced on a variety of issues. For example, he campaigned so vigorously against treating the Covid-19 pandemic with masks and vaccinations, calling it a Chinese hoax, and yet he was vaccinated as well.

Edward P. McMorrow, Beverly, Massachusetts

From: Jeff le Grange (jlegrange icon.co.za)
Subject: Janus-faced

Way back in my youth I would buy a “Janus connector” and length of electrical cable to make an extension lead into which two devices could be connected, one in the right face and one in the left face. I just accepted that as the name without knowing the reason. Thanks to you I now know that it is not a “double-connector” but is actually a “two-faced connector”.

Jeff le Grange, Cape Town, South Africa

From: Sathuvalli Mohanraj (mohanrajsathuvalli gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--janus-faced

Janus also has a positive interpretation (rather than being hypocritical and deceitful). Someone who can understand the future without letting go of the past (one who can balance life well) is also referred to as Janus-faced. Charles Lamb in his essay (perhaps Dream Children) uses Janus symbolically and very effectively.

Sathuvalli Mohanraj, Hyderabad, India

From: Niranjan V. Joshi (nvjoshi iisc.ac.in)
Subject: from a poem by JBS Haldane Re: A.Word.A.Day--janus-faced

Emails quoting JBS Haldane must have started pouring in already, but just in case, here it is:
His poem Cancer’s a Funny Thing (1964)
From BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, Volume 5, Issue 4.

Niranjan V. Joshi, Bengaluru, India

From: Allen Roberts (aroberts arts.ucla.edu)
Subject: Janus-faced

Rather than history triumphing over time as in the Mengs painting, Janus logic in non-European societies often emphasizes a negotiated present. Power figures from southeastern Congo-Kinshasa sometimes possess potent medicinal bundles betwixt and between opposite-facing faces to direct ancestral wisdom to current fortunes in hopes of perfecting future outcomes.

Allen F. Roberts, Distinguished Professor of World Arts and Cultures, Emeritus, Co-Editor, African Arts journal, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

From: Bill Wesley (wcw1066 yahoo.com)
Subject: Ritz

Don’t forget the classic Irving Berlin tune “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (video, 2 min.), one of my favorites. I’ve always revered this Russian immigrant who came here, wrote songs on Tin Pan Alley and penned “God Bless America”. As Jerome Kern said, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music -- he is American music.”

Bill Wesley, Canton, Georgia

From: Mary Rice (merice2010 gmail.com)
Subject: Cyril Connolly quotation on Friday

In a perfect union the man and woman are like a strung bow. Who is to say whether the string bends the bow, or the bow tightens the string? -Cyril Connolly, critic and editor (10 Sep 1903-1974)

When I read the Thought for Today I immediately wondered if Cyril Connolly had read “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It contains this passage:

As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman;
Though she bends him, she obeys him,
Though she draws him, yet she follows,
Useless each without the other!”

Mary Rice, Greenville, Illinois

From: Susan Corey-McAlpine (susan.quiltedtrout gmail.com)
Subject: A proposal to change eponymous common names for birds

I thought you might be interested to know that Cornell Lab for Ornithology is coordinating a project to change the common names of birds to reflect more diversity. An esteemed birder, Kenn Kaufman, was hiking with Black birders in Georgia when it was pointed out that the Bachman’s Sparrow was named after John Bachman who had “written some really ugly things in support of white supremacy”. The Bachman’s Sparrow is also known as the Pinewoods Sparrow, and Mr. Kaufman is suggesting a change to “Pinewoods”.

You can imagine that the resulting forum to rename birds must carefully consider conservation efforts to save the remaining 2/3 of bird species, so as not to confuse the scientific records using eponymous bird names. The entire article is in Living Bird, Summer, 2021, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

I applaud this effort to remove the names of what I imagine are only white colonial naturalists. More sensitivity must be shown to a diverse population. We need only remember the lamentable “Karen” incident in Central Park involving harassment of a Black birder.

Susan Corey-McAlpine, Garden Valley, California

Kremlin Caper
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: ritz and zephyr

“Puttin’ on the Ritz” was one of debonair hoofer Fred Astaire’s iconic numbers, a showcase for his smooth and elegant dance moves. Astaire’s performance was parodied in the film Young Frankenstein, where the “spare-parts” monster (Peter Boyle) and its creator, Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), perform an inelegant vaudavillish version of Astaire’s flawless routine. Here, punning on the movie title, I have Ruskie autocrat Putin attempting to class it up on the cobblestoned pavements of Red Square.

How Many Times?
One of Bob Dylan’s most memorable songs was “Blowin’ in the Wind”, penned in 1962. When I first saw our word “zephyr”, for some reason Dylan’s iconic tune came to mind. Here, working out his lyric line, a young Dylan gets an unsolicited assist from Froggy.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


The theme this week is: Eponyms 1. galahad
2. baedeker
3. zephyr
4. janus-face
d 5. ritz
= 1. perfect
2. German A-Z
3. breeze
4. I think dual headed
5. posh, Sheikh & Majesty - we stay
     This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. galahad
2. baedeker
3. zephyr
4. janus-faced
5. ritz
= 1. heroized knight
2. map
3. dry breeze
4. fake, seedy
5. lush, the cat’s new pajamas
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

This week’s theme: eponyms
1. galahad
2. baedeker
3. zephyr
4. janus-faced
5. ritz
= 1. Ms. noble-hearted
2. head guide
3. waft
4. a sham, risky creep
5. kept jazzy sheen
     This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. Galahad
2. Baedeker
3. zephyr
4. Janus-faced
5. ritz
= 1. the mensch
2. the paper A-Z guide
3. breeze
4. majorly fake
5. it’s dashed swanky
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


“I thought, ‘Man of my dreams. Galahad!’
But I quickly got bored.” “Oh, how sad!”
“Virtue’s great -- for a while --
And I wouldn’t want vile.”
“But some bad would be good?” “Just a tad.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The streets were quite snowy and icy;
I was hungry and craved something spicy.
The warm smell of curry
Caused me to hurry
To my galahad’s place -- it’s not pricey!
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

“I’m sorry, my dear,” says her dad.
“I’ve been trying to like the young lad.
But, as you must know,
your current new beau
is certainly no Galahad!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

This country needs a galahad
To save it from going so bad.
What happened, I wonder?
Things all went asunder.
Politics are now just a fad.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Oh, Galahad noble and true!
Your quest for the grail leaves me blue.
I still hope and pray
You’ll get here some day --
My whole life I’ve waited for you.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When the lady got to her feet,
two standees jostled to take her seat.
The young lad no Galahad,
elbowed out the granddad,
And sat down with a triumphant bleat.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Come back, Shane! You’re our hero, our Galahad!”
The boy shouted. “You’ll make the finale bad!”
But his mom hated guns
Even worse than bad puns,
And so into the sunset rode Alan Ladd.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

My Baedeker guide, you should know,
Is my wife, who at all times can show
The best route to delight;
But we had a big fight,
And she told me just where I can go.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“Marooned on this island,” says she,
“getting lost is a problem for me.”
(No possible way that her
little red Baedeker
guide could be used there, you see.)
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Tired out and just seeking an inn
My Baedeker tutted “Much sin
Lurks behind those closed doors
Pickpockets and whores
Will ply you with poisonous gin!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Eef ze girl you have been weeth ees late, monsieur,”
Say the French, “Zere’s no need for a Baedeker.
Your delightful affaire
Weel now make you a père;
Zees result can sometimes when you mate occur.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Above the soft waft of a zephyr,
Came a bellowing snort like a heifer.
Could it be my dear wife
Set on giving me strife?
I decided I’d never been deafer.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

I used to be light as a zephyr,
but lately I look like a heifer.
You say I should diet?
Although I might try it,
I’m not giving up hasenpfeffer!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The wind wasn’t gentle that day;
It caused all the branches to sway.
Not merely a zephyr,
It toppled a heifer
And blew off my uncle’s toupee.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

A tornado spun off from a zephyr,
And frightened a sheep and a heifer.
“Oy vey!” they declared,
“We’re for Dorothy scared
That from Kansas to Oz it’ll schlep her!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In a move to appease the strait-laced,
He denounced what this morn he’d embraced.
Should those lobbyists meet,
They’ll expose his deceit,
And unite in their cry, “Janus-faced!”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

She appears to be very strait-laced,
religious, clean-living, and chaste.
But to those who know better,
this chick’s a go-getter,
insidiously Janus-faced.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said Hamlet, “You, mother, are Janus-faced;
Forsooth! Thou hast ev’ry last Dane disgraced.
To Claudius mated?
By law, you’re related;
You’re wrecking my faith Dick and Jane were chaste!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When I party, I spare no expense,
And my lavishness oft gives offence.
I ignore all the crits,
And just live for the ritz.
If you’ve got, you must flaunt -- common-sense.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Her life’s full of fashion and ritz,
In Capri, St. Tropez, St. Moritz.
She’s the hit of the season,
And here is the reason.
She covers with makeup her zits.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Her boyfriend would put on the ritz;
She loved all the glamor and glitz.
And so it is sad
He spent all he had --
Now life with this putz is the pits.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The wedding-to-be was all glam!
To impress! Let it be a grand slam!
Said mom, “It’s so ritzy
Just a tad -- itsy bitsy --
Less fuss, please, I know who I am!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

There was no one who put on the ritz
Like Astaire in his Hollywood hits.
What he did with a cane
Was so suave and urbane
That I tried it, but soon called it quits.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Said Frankie Valli, “The first galahad? Oh, what a night!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Met galahad to be canceled due to Covid.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Drawled the old Texan, “Ah wanna tell ya about that beautiful galahad once.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Lord Capulet, “Alack, Paris; ‘twas to thee that her marriage we baedeker.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said Trump at a Mar-a-Lago cocktail party, “I believe in democracy, zephyr when I lose.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said Henry Fonda, “My daughter Janus-faced a lot of criticism for that trip to Vietnam.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Though Joplin was a popular singer, janus-faced some harsh critics.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

I can still remember my mom exclaiming in exasperation, “Oh no, the refrigerator is on the f-ritz again!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Ritz-ei adonai eloheinu,” intoned the cantor during the High Holidays.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Deep in the (Cold) Heart of Texas
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Deep in the (Cold) Heart of Texas

With the recent passing of the draconian anti-abortion bill in Texas, these Republican lawmakers have deputized the state’s citizenry as bounty hunters, essentially encouraging Texans to snitch on any woman (or their provider) who has had an abortion beyond the stipulated six-week threshold, and collect up to a $10,000 snitchers’ purse, to boot. George Orwell must be rolling in his grave, as Big Brother has raised his ugly head in Texas. Once again, Texas lives up to its growing reputation as one of the most antediluvian states in the Union.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

All zoos actually offer the public, in return for the taxes spent upon them, is a form of idle witless amusement, compared to which a visit to the state penitentiary, or even a state legislature in session, is informing, stimulating and ennobling. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (12 Sep 1880-1956)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith