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AWADmail Issue 738A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
Sponsor’s Message: What’s “old school” mean to you? A straight-razor shave? Cream whipped up with a whisk? You gotta be impressed by a man who stands up and looks you in the eye when he shakes your hand. A sincere “sorry”. White gloves in church. So, we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Cathy Flynn (see below), as well as all you traditionistas out there a chance to tell us what you value and love about the world we are losing or have already lost, and win some of our authentic ludic loot, to boot. ENTER The Old’s Cool Contest NOW.
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Stefan and Kay Bucek (skbucek comcast.net)
Perhaps the most famous use of this word comes from the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld, where Newman emerges from the shop with a brown bag, and looking down wide-eyed into it, he excitedly exclaims, “Jambalaya!!” (video, 5 sec.)
Stefan A.D. Bucek, San Jose, California
From: Emanuela Appetiti (eappetiti hotmail.com)
While the main meaning is that of a messy tangle and it certainly implies a mix of random things, it is interesting to note that in languages like Italian (farraginoso) or French (farragineux), this adjective is used to describe something plentiful and messy, confusing, illogical. A speech, an essay, an administration can be farraginous, to mean cumbersome, rumbling. More examples: the plot of a novel or of a movie can be farraginous, if it is not fluid and full of flashbacks, and so the judicial system (with reference to its rapidity, or the lack thereof), or when the solution of a mathematical problem is reached through a process unnecessarily long and counterintuitive.
Emanuela Appetiti, Washington, DC
From: Marc Chelemer (mc2496 att.com)
What is it about food that inspires so many words that mean, to some extent or another, heterogeneous? Yesterday’s alternative definition of jambalaya was just that. Today’s word means that straightaway. A couple of years back, you had another weeks of food words, three of which -- salmagundi, olla podrida, and gallimaufry -- all meant a hodgepodge, a jumble, a heterogeneous mixture. Even goulash from the week before that one had this as an alternate, and bouillabaisse also had something similar as an alternative definition. Each culture and linguistic tradition has its own word for a mixture; I find it intriguing that the reference always flows through something related to food.
Marc Chelemer, Tenafly, New Jersey
From: Otto Minera (ominera hotmail.com)
It is not in Spanish that the term translates as pan y toros. This is true only in Spain. In Mexico, we translated it literally: pan y circo.
Otto Minera, Mexico City. Mexico
From: Alfred Hayter (via online comments)
In the South African press world (at least), a ragout (rag-out?) refers to a pictorial reference torn out (or made to appear to have been torn out) from a previous publication to accompany a report or story -- a visual reminder or cross-reference to a previous article, which may include a page, picture, headline, or even text.
Alfred Hayter, Johannesburg, South Africa
From: Tim Kemp (tim ephehm.com)
Jim Jones didn’t use Kool-Aid. It was Flavor-Aid, a Kool-Aid knock-off. (Wiki)
Tim Kemp, Fayetteville, Georgia
A large number of readers echoed similar comments. The above Wiki page for Flavor-Aid and the Wiki page for Kool-Aid both indicate that the Jonestown footage showed that they had both products. It’s not known whether they actually used one or the other or both. We’ve revised our webpage to reflect that: “... by drinking Kool-Aid and/or Flavor-Aid laced with cyanide.”
From: Cathy Flynn (rncmf aol.com)
Years ago, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer. This young man certainly had a knack for convincing me to do crazy things I never thought I’d do (like flipping giant truck tires). That is, until the day he cajoled, “C’mon, drink the kool-aid!” I stopped, put my hands on my hips, and responded, “You do realize that everyone who drank the kool-aid DIED, don’t you? That’s no way to convince me!” He had no idea what I was talking about. So after a brief history lesson, it was back to exercise. Yes, I did drink that kool-aid, and no, it didn’t kill me!
Cathy Flynn, Brooklyn, New York
From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Founding father of the movement called New Journalism, Tom Wolfe, published his seminal work The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in 1968. In it he describes his bus trip with Ken Kesey’s band of Merry Pranksters and talks about his conversations with them about “dropping acid”, scientifically known as taking LSD. Apparently, the drink of Kool-Aid was used to disguise the flavour of the lysergic acid in the mixture.
The Pranksters became promoters of Timothy Leary’s slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, with the pleasing cadence of the end particles in the above phrase. This is a long way from Wolfe’s other works, such as The Right Stuff or even The Bonfire of the Vanities.
Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada
From: Nicholas Wagg (wagg cbn.net.id)
I have a word for you that does not appear in any dictionary that I’m aware of. It might amuse you. It’s certainly very useful: Claytons. The current GOP presidential candidate could be described as a Clayton’s candidate. The candidate you have when you don’t have a candidate!
Nicholas Wagg, Johannesburg, South Africa
From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Perhaps the most familiar use of the word -- at least, for some of us -- is Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene in Wagner’s opera Die Götterdämmerung. (video, 3 min.)
Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon
From: Dharam Khalsa (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
The text in the right box is an anagram of the text in the left.
Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Say journalists, “We don’t know why ya
Trump email to Cruz: “Just imagine us
The artist, whose work is farraginous,
If you’re in a cult, I’m afraid,
Same guy -- finds another large mouse in his stew.
The Donald always takes the bait.
From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
“Does this jambalaya taste of real strawberries? I don’t think it’s Smucker’s®.”
The grossly obese man didn’t apologize farraginous off the bench.
In times of disaster, The Red Cross offers sweet n’ kool-aid.
The National Enquirer is a ragout wouldn’t want in your home.
As for the widow’s husband, the funeral parlor gave immolate morning cremation.
Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma
We made a record of misattributed A THOUGHT FOR TODAY this week. Here are the quotations with correct attributions:
A good storyteller is the conscience-keeper of a nation. -Sunjoy Shekhar, writer and editor (b. Aug 12 1969)
If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams -- the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. -Robert Southey, poet (1774-1843)
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:I’d prefer to die on my feet than to live on my knees. -Charb (pen name of Stéphane Charbonnier), caricaturist and journalist (21 Aug 1967-2015)