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AWADmail Issue 793

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

Sponsor’s Message: Life’s a funny old dog, innit? One of our favorite bands of all time is Steely Dan -- always loved their cool, ludic, laid-back vibe. Their glib, erudite, and clever lyrics and the origin of the name always resonated too, since we’re also a huge fan of William S. Burroughs. Anyway, we met our buddy Ray at Tusk & Cup the other morning for coffee, and ended up playing One Up! with his friend Jon. We all three went at it, hammer and tongs, and Ray ended up just squeaking by with the win. Long story, short -- Jon is the guitarist for the band, and he’s going to make sure the Scrabble they usually play gathers dust from now on. Ha. Anyway, congrats to Email of the Week winner Ken Doran (see below) and all the other wordy music lovers out there -- you never know when you might become a (sidebar) hero to your hero. Read more about “Stealy Dan” here >


A warm welcome to students from Sherrard Community Unit School District and their teachers who recommended A.Word.A.Day to their students.

A warm welcome to students from Bridgewater State University and their professor who pointed them here.

Check out top 25 universities on A.Word.A.Day.

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

Neo-Nazi Mayoral Candidate Pledges to Ban Arabic Numerals
The Independent

14 Words That Don’t Mean What You Think They Do

From: David Burke (via website comments)
Subject: Monday morning quarterback

Here in Ireland we have the expression “hurler on the ditch”. It refers to our great national sport, hurling, the All-Ireland championship of which was won yesterday by my county, Galway. A ditch in Hiberno-English is a raised bank, and the phrase refers to the critics on the sideline, or in the case of the country fields where the game had its origins, the non-player spectating from the ditch and offering the usual criticisms.

David Burke, Tuam, Ireland

That’s a great expression that I was unfamiliar with. Thank you. It sounds more like a kibitzer. A Monday morning quarterback offers suggestions or critique after the fact, while a kibitzer does so in real time.
-Anu Garg

From: Craige Mott (craige.mott bluefish444.com)
Subject: Monday morning quarterback

I had to laugh out loud when I read the term Monday morning quarterback. Here in Melbourne, Australia, the biggest sporting code in the country is Australian Rules Football. A local folk/rock band in the 1980s named Weddings Parties Anything, nailed our equivalent of the term in their underground hit at the time, the aptly named: Monday’s experts. “I see them up the shops, I see them down the streets, ...telling me how I should have done this and how I should have done that, by the time I’ve finished listening, well my beer has gone flat.”

Craige Mott, Melbourne, Australia

From: Dan Duke (danduke charter.net)
Subject: Monday morning quarterback

A frequently used synonym in the game of bridge is “result merchant”. A player who proclaims he or she knew exactly how to “play the last hand” after the hand is over.

Dan Duke, Vilas, North Carolina

From: Ilan Cohen (ilan.j.cohen gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

I had never heard of the Monday morning quarterback, but I love it. It reminds me of one of my favorite images in French: l’esprit d’escalier or stairway wit. The witty comeback you think of as you leave the place.

Cheers, and please do soldier on! Everyone I know has heard of you :)

Ilan J. Cohen, Paris, France

From: Declan Hollywood (declanigoe125 googlemail.com)
Subject: Monday morning quarterback

A monday morning quarterback reminded me heavily of how my mother refers to my uncle: an armchair politician.

Declan Hollywood, Vienna, Austria

Email of the Week -- Hey, Nineteen -- Shop The Wicked/Smart Word Game now.

From: Ken Doran (kendoran execpc.com)
Subject: Monday morning quarterback

The reference to professional games on Sunday is mildly anachronistic in the context of this term’s origin. In 1930, the professional branch of the game was in its infancy. College football -- then as now played overwhelmingly on Saturdays -- had much the higher profile and was the predominant source of Monday morning analysis and second-guessing. (Reference: The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors)

Ken Doran, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Monday morning quarterback

In Italy, where soccer has been regarded as a religion of sorts, there used to be a Monday program on RAI (Italian television), called Processo di lunedi, i.e. The Trial of Monday. In it, with the help of replays, the panel of “experts” would sock it to the referees for mistakes they had committed in the matches played the day before.

While on the subject (in reference to your remark in the preface about the relative lack of interest in intellectual achievements), there was an MC in Hungary who, following the mass demonstration in front of the Hungarian Radio building after the national team’s unfortunate loss to West Germany in the 1954 World Cup, complained about the absence of such protest whenever an atrociously written book saw publication, ruefully adding: “Yet how often we could be protesting!”

This was a swipe against both the communist regime’s view of sports as political propaganda and the literary genre of socialist realism, whose role was also political propaganda.

That demonstration, incidentally, was a foreshadowing of the events of 1956 that enabled me to defect from the workers’ paradise (apropos of Labour Day) and propelled me to Canada.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Candy Barela (cbarela nmusd.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

I once heard a phrase something along the lines:
An athlete gets paid millions of dollars for being in good shape.
A teacher gets paid thousands of dollars for shaping their being.

Candy Barela, Costa Mesa, California

From: Marjorie Hilton (margiehill post.harvard.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

As a teacher and a reader and lover of science achievement, I agree. We teachers are often thought of as almost non-professionals even if we have advanced degrees, a brain, and your kids. My son-in-law started out as a new lawyer with three times the salary I made after 20 years of teaching, a master’s degree, and post grad credits. I even had a father come to a parent conference chewing gum and then putting his legs up on the desk!

Marjorie Hilton, Cambridge, Massachusetts

From: Adelaide Villmoare (ah.villmoare gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

As a retired teacher or someone who cares deeply about education, I share the belief that teachers should be paid as much as football coaches, if not more since teachers do not practice a skill that can contribute to brain damage. They contribute to brain development.

Adelaide Villmoare, Poughkeepsie, New York

From: John Craw (thecrawh outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

Kay & Peele do a skit “What if teachers were treated like a sports draft every year.” (video, 4 min.)

John Craw, Glenford, Ohio

From: Jack Ryder (rydercvt16 aol.com)
Subject: Nobel Prize, etc.

The University of Chicago, without question a top research institution and center for learning, has in the lobby of the athletic center the first Heisman Trophy (1935 - Jay Berwanger) and also touts the fact that those affiliated with the University have earned over 80 Nobel Prizes (Friedman, Stigler, Obama, etc.).

Academics and Athletics can mix.

Jack Ryder, LaGrange Park, Illinois

From: Tony Seton (tonyseton tonyseton.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

Right on! We should be cheering those who make the planet better, instead of worshipping those who produce and willingly receive concussions.

Tony Seton, Carmel, California

From: Ted Hochstadt (tedbh yahoo.com)
Subject: Football and concussions

Recently, the columnist George Will had a very perceptive analysis of the state of (American) football.

Ted Hochstadt, Falls Church, Virginia

From: Sriram Shankar (sri213 yahoo.com)
Subject: Sports in colleges

I have bitched about this ad infinitum myself, especially after seeing my friends’ FB posts and reactions after my alma mater won an NCAA tourney not long ago, the same year that they had their first Nobel Laureate in decades (and second overall). The downtown of our small town was closed off as buses carrying our athletes and coaches returned to enthralled students and supporters -- the same school that had been sanctioned only recently for academic misdemeanors regarding preferred treatment to athletes -- while nary an applause could be heard for our academic star. It is a tragedy and a travesty.

Sriram Shankar, Durham, North Carolina

From: Elizabeth Hannan (skywayliz gmail.com)
Subject: Appreciating “ordinary” people

A couple of weeks ago, a man and wife introduced themselves to me. He was wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat, she was a retired teacher. I thanked him for his service, then turned to her and said “Thank you for your service, too.” She was really surprised and said that most people don’t realize the life teachers have. It really meant something to her, so I will never miss an opportunity to thank teachers, policemen, firemen, waitresses and waiters, and any time someone does their job well.

Elizabeth Hannan, Tellico Plains, Tennessee

From: Ed Ferro (edferro7 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

I agree with what you say but, unfortunately, compensation is not based on your contribution to the world. It’s based on the amount of money you contribute to your employer.

Ed Ferro, Boothwyn, Pennsylvania

From: Ueli Hepp (u.hepp bluewin.ch)
Subject: Teachers

Here’s a quotation from Lee Iacocca, certainly not from someone that one might suspect of being in league with teachers due to some hidden personal interest.

In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.

Ueli Hepp, Wald, Switzerland

From: Gigi Gottwald (gottwalds axxess.co.za)
Subject: unsung heroes and heroines

I couldn’t agree more: the deification of sportsmen and -women is obscene considering how little of real and lasting value they contribute to the common good of mankind. Once I am Queen, I’ll be sure to implement your suggestions regarding salaries. Nurses will also receive massive increases, as will cops who have a tough job and need a good salary to help them resist the temptation to accept bribes. And of course I’ll elevate you to my chief -- and well-paid -- advisor!

Gigi Gottwald (formerly one of the myriads of unappreciated and underpaid educators), Polokwane, South Africa

From: Julian Thomas (jt jt-mj.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

This reminds me of the time I joined a one-man consulting/contract programming firm back in the very distant past. He was going to assume the title of president, and he asked me to suggest a title for my position. I suggested “football coach” since many college coaches have higher salaries than college presidents.

It didn’t work, although I had no issues with my salary.

Julian Thomas, Rochester, New York

From: Gregory Joyner (gregoryjoyner gmail.com)
Subject: Football

What you’re missing out on in your pronouncements about teachers’ salaries vs football coach salaries, aside from all of the obvious good that teachers do, is that the football coach brings in millions and millions of dollars to the university coffers.... helping in no small part to pay those teachers’ salaries.

Greg Joyner, San Diego, California

Perhaps we should be funding our schools and universities adequately so they wouldn’t have to rely on football (or even more egregiously, state lotteries).
-Anu Garg

From: Brian Sullivan (briansullivan wustl.edu)
Subject: Do sports fund academics?

Revenue transfers from athletic departments to general university funds are not necessarily all that great (and in many cases are negative). For example, in 2014, Michigan’s athletic programs brought in ~$160 million of revenue and had expenses of ~$145 million, including the head coach’s $9 million salary.

Not all schools show a profit in their athletic departments. In Michigan’s own Big Ten Conference, which has 13 institutions (perhaps they need to go through remedial math again), the athletic departments of seven schools showed a deficit (see Washington Post). Michigan researchers, on the other hand, secure about $450 million a year in NIH funding, $290 million of which goes to the institution for overhead.

Brian Sullivan, St. Louis, Missouri

From: Bob Weggel (bob_weggel mindspring.com)
Subject: A Thought for Today

Candidate quotation for “A Thought for Today”

“It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber.” -Robert Fulghum

Bob Weggel, Reading, Massachusetts

From: David Bryant (davidbryant att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Monday morning quarterback

You wrote: Whether you’re a football fan or not, you’d surely agree that teachers make a bigger contribution in this world.

No, I do not agree that teachers make a bigger contribution than football coaches. In a meritocratic society, people earn what they’re worth, which is to say, their earnings are proportional to the contributions they make to that society. In the real world and in general, football coaches earn more money than teachers. Ergo, football coaches make the larger contribution to society.

David Bryant, Canyon, Lake Texas

According to this reasoning, Kim Kardashian’s $45 million take-home a year implies she makes a thousand-times larger contribution to society than a kindergarten teacher who makes perhaps $45k. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I won’t hold it against your teachers -- they do their best but they can’t turn every student into a logical thinker.

Also, you may differ, but in my experience, a single teacher is worth more than all the Kardashians and all the football coaches in the world, combined.

-Anu Garg

From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Monday morning quarterback

You might find the following relevant to your observations on teachers’ salaries:
The highest-paid public employee in 39 US states is either a football or men’s basketball coach

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: Barney L Bales (barney.bales csun.edu)
Subject: Praise for those who do not play football

When we bought a home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in Colonia Guadalupe, I wondered what battles El Sr. Francisco Gonzalez Bocanegra had won. Or Amado Nervo, Alfonso Esparza Oteo, etc.; 21 streets in all. Then I learned that all 21 were composers, musicians, or songs (one of the streets is Cielito Lindo). Sweet!

Barney Bales, Seattle, Washington

From: Sarah S. Sole (via website comments)
Subject: A Thought for Today

If he does not fight, it is not because he rejects all fighting as futile, but because he has finished his fights. He has overcome all dissensions between himself and the world and is now at rest... We shall have wars and soldiers so long as the brute in us is untamed. -Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, philosopher and 2nd president of India (5 Sep 1888-1975)

As so often happens, your ATFT hits me hard, then settles like a yoke around my neck. I have given up so many fights in my long life but my brute is stronger and more vicious than ever. That is my war with the mental illness of a treasured family member and the ignorance that accompanies it.....my own ignorance, that of the medical world, and society in general. I feed that brute daily and make no apologies. Thanks for clarity.

Sarah S. Sole, Enid, Oklahoma

From: Amitava Guha (amitavagu gmail.com)
Subject: Slam Dunk

“George, how confident are you?” the president asked Tenet, the CIA director at that time, in an exchange depicted in Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack.

“Don’t worry, it’s a slam-dunk,” Tenet said.

A war ensued, a presidency was redefined and a non-basketball player became forever affixed to the term “slam-dunk”.

Amitava Guha, Rexford, New York

From: Chuck Durante (cdurante connollygallagher.com)
Subject: Slam Dunk

Used in 1969: The Desert Sun.

Charles J. Durante, Wilmington, Delaware

We’ve updated the entry on our website now. Thanks!
-Anu Garg

From: Dale Greenley (flyfisher46 charter.net)
Subject: Bush league

I am still amazed that I never heard or saw the term bush league applied to the last Bush administration. Bush League is a perfect definition of him and his cohorts.

Dale Greenley, Myrtle Creek, Oregon

From: John Merriam (jm3970 yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Googly

Sorry to be a pedant, but the cricket world loves pedantry. The bowler shown in your video is left-handed and therefore by definition his “wrong ‘un” is a chinaman, not a googly. A googly must be bowled by a right-handed leg spinner and is the ball which (having been delivered out of the back of the hand) spins from a right-handed batsman’s off side to leg side.

John Merriam, London, UK

From: Robert Hersh (bobhersh hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--googly

After the first three words this week, I assumed that all of these words would be familiar to American sports fans, but today you threw us a curve ball.

Bob Hersh, Roslyn Heights, New York

From: Michael Klossner (klossner9 aol.com)
Subject: googly

Here is the Wikipedia article on Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. The section “Spark Plug” has the lyrics of “Barney Google”, the 1920s novelty song based on a popular comic strip. I remember “Barney Google with the goo-goo-googly eyes” from my youth in the 1950s, so it lasted at least 30 years.

Michael Klossner, Little Rock, Arkansas

From: Deb Baddorf (baddorf fnal.gov)
Subject: spin doctor

A quite old humorous piece:

Ancestry, version one:
John Smith, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.

Spin Doctor version:
John Smith was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, he passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.

Deb Baddorf, Aurora, Illinois

From: Jane Merryman (jane sonic.net)
Subject: Words from baseball

On one of my many visits to Bali, my friend Nyoman took me on his motorbike for a tour of the countryside. We passed a large estate and behind the high concrete wall surrounding it I could see a dome with a cross on top of it, the peak of a Buddhist shrine known as a stupa, and the stepped tower of a Hindu pura (temple). I blurted out, “I think this guy wants to cover all the bases.” Nyoman turned to me with a quizzical expression on his face and I realized I needed to explain the game of baseball. (In Bali they play soccer and watch American basketball on satellite TV.) Nyoman teaches English to high school seniors and always invites me to spend an hour with his very patient and polite students delving into the intricacies of English. So I spent one class explaining how 3 strikes got into our legal system and how to get to first base, do something right off the bat, and deal with a ballpark figure or someone who is way off base or out in left field.

Jane Merryman, Petaluma, California

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Monday morning quarterbacks & bush league

Monday morning quarterback
Bush league
Monday morning quarterbacks die hard! My over-the-top (make that goalposts... Ha!) inveterate second-guesser, hapless Harold, is still trying to figure out why his favorite team lost so badly on Sunday, literally arm-chair quarterbacking the disappointing result, a full two days after the weekend telecast.

His clearly miffed wife is fed up with hubby Harold’s prolonged couch-potatoing torpor, while he continues to kvetch over his team’s latest deflating loss.

George W. Bush, since leaving the presidency, has taken up painting with considerable gusto. I’ve seen images of a number of his acrylic-on-canvas portraits, usually rendered from photos, plus other subjects, including a painting of the Bush family pooch, a handsome little pure-black West Highland terrier. IMHO, one of his most pleasing works to date.

In my view, most of Dubya’s painterly efforts are quite charming and competent, in a naive, unschooled sort of way. Hardly “bush league”. I commend him for his clear passion for, and commitment to, his relatively newfound creative pastime.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. Monday morning quarterback
2. slam dunk
3. bush league
4. googly
5. spin doctor
= 1. grumpy critic on bum
2. sank one, smart angle
3. young squad
4. hook ball
5. dodger
= 1. buttinsky
2. conquer
3. cue (Dodgers) minors
4. hook ball, agog
5. a damn ugly PR man
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: limericks

The builder, a Monday morning quarterback,
Said “That wall you just built, it does mortar lack.”
He redid the work,
But then with a jerk
Slipped a disc and now has a shorter back.
-Vara Devaney, Damascus, Maryland (varadevaney att.net)

Chides Monday a.m. quarterback,
“You wouldn’t require ipecac
had you listened to me.
You shouldn’t,” says he,
“have eaten that second Big Mac!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A brickmason called the hod porter back,
Saying, “Hey! Would you please bring my mortar back?”
“No!,” the hod man said crabbily,
“You’re working so shabbily
I must play Monday Morning Quarterback.”
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma (pgraham1946 cox.net)

When pancakes I’ve downed like a lumberjack,
Come Monday I’m quite a good quarterback.
That morning the scale
Makes me feel like a whale
And I tell myself, “Order a shorter stack.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It’s fake news that I’m here to debunk:
The top guy doesn’t have to learn junk.
I’ll just keep watching Fox
and p’roxiding my locks.
Let’s face it, the job’s a slam dunk.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

There once was a Franciscan monk
Who thought all worldly things were just junk;
He denied all his wealth
For his spiritual health,
And the new path for him? A slam dunk!
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

“If only I get this girl drunk,”
Said the frat boy, “she’ll be a slam dunk.”
He’d best pull it off
Or his buddies will scoff
And his status down low will have sunk.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpower wowway.com)

“I thought this would be a slam dunk,”
Said Donald one night in a funk.
“But judges and Congress
Have made me self-conscious
And now my poor willy has shrunk.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Oh boy! She is thrilled and intrigued,
till she finds the toy simply bush league.
She reiterates, “Go!” but
though willing, her robot
cannot. He’s got metal fatigue.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Bush league was the early world he knew.
He realized what he had to do.
First, he’d practice much more;
Improve his home run score.
Babe Ruth’s dreams would finally come true.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (loscamil aol.com)

“Your papa and you are both Bush league,”
Said Cheney, the master of intrigue.
He loved a good pun
on George H. and his son
And would laugh like he’d ordered a blitzkrieg.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

This nemesis of batters
leaves the opposition in tatters.
His venom spitting googly,
takes a sudden sharp turn eerily squiggly.
The bat’s in mid air as the middle stump shatters.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Our old English forebears knew truly
The way to address crises googly.
Be it threat of a war,
Invasion or gore,
The first thing, they sat down to tea.
-Anna C Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

“I purchased this pageant quite shrewdly,”
Said Donald, his eyes looking googly.
“There’s so much to grab
I’ll be needing rehab
For o.d.’ing on treating them crudely.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

There is a great spin doctor who
Turns a crisis into a coup.
When folks hate your guts
And think you’re a putz,
He gives you an image brand new.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Trump fancies himself a spin doctor,
A most savvy political proctor.
When as for the truth,
His motives’ uncouth,
He’s a shrewdly transparent concoctor.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

To be a good spin doctor,
You must be a win talker.
But those who speak for Trump,
Have to hurdle a speed bump,
Of the latest tweet shocker.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The words of her maid truly shocked her:
“You’ll hang as a witch, Goody Proctor!”
This got her so worried
To DC she scurried
And hired a K Street spin doctor.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

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

After throwing the game-losing interception, he became a Monday mourning quarterback.

My uncle tried to become a champion wrestler but he was often a slam dunk.

At my tavern, why must one busch league to another?

Even a Yahoo knows that for info on Bing, one needs to get Googly.

Is someone who treats Meniere’s Disease a spin doctor?

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos. -Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist, biologist, author (10 Sep 1941-2002)

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