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Sep 2, 2018
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Molotov cocktail

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AWADmail Issue 844

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

Sponsor’s Message: “I never liked Picasso, as a painter or a man, mostly because, as you’ve no doubt already surmised, I was a shallow twerp with hopelessly shallow catholic tastes -- an arrogant, indomitable ignoramus -- and because he never wallowed in anything except brilliance and carnality. Don’t worry, there is a character arc to this story, and it will turn out to be a comedy, not a tragedy for those of you bored to tears, or with more important things to do. Which I hope is most. Now is a good time to bail.” For those of you still reading, congrats to Email of the Week winner Colleen Weisz (see below) and all the other word and art lovers out there -- you never know when (or where) you might achieve a sense of enlightenment and wisdom. Find out how I kinda did in “Picasso and Me” >

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Short stints and units

A selection of readers’ responses to this week’s intro.

Short Stints

My shortest tenure on a job was 0.00417 of a mooch. When I was working my way through college, I applied for a job as a third-shift attendant at a full-service gas station (there was no self-service back then). When I reported to my first shift, the manager explained what was required. One requirement was that it was 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. That had not been explained during the recruitment. I resigned on the spot and was paid for one hour of work -- a huge $1.25.
-Chip Taylor (via website comments)

At a previous company, we had a new starter by the name of Jade Fenwick. After three hours of orientation, she left to go on her lunch break and never returned!
Coincidentally, that same week we were naming the firm’s three meeting rooms and we came up with The Helen Keller Meeting Room and The Florence Nightingale Meeting Room and were so captivated by our previous colleague’s endeavours that we named the third The Jade Fenwick Meeting Room, which could only be reserved/booked out for a maximum of three hours!
-Chris Pegg, York, UK (chris.pegg langleys.com)

I lived in Holland for two years during high school. One job that was available to students during spring break was to brush the sand off and peel off the outer skins of tulip bulbs. We got paid by the basketful. By the end of the day my fingers were sore and bleeding and I had barely filled one basket. I did not return, not even to be paid at the end of the week when I would have garnered ten American cents for my one day’s labor.
-Beverly Lyon, Grass Valley, California (bml mtnlyon.com)

I lasted .05 Scaramucci in a job I landed in a smelly tiny sleazy greasy spoon on a side street in midtown Manhattan in 1963. I was the “pearl diver”, the dishwasher, or rather the dish-rinser for loading into a quickie mechanical dishwasher. My station was less than miniscule, Turkish-bath sweltering, and mind-numbingly noisy (forgive the string of adverbs). I lasted one half day. Came in the next morning 10 minutes late and was fired. Best thing that ever happened to me. I went right to The Village and started singing nightly in “basket houses” (a term that I think has probably gone the way of the jernts) and never looked back.
-Charlie Cockey, Brno, Czech Republic (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)

I worked 1.2 scaramuccis as a hostess at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant back in 1970. I remember the afternoon when TWO busloads of kids showed up simultaneously to buy ice cream cones -- paid for individually with their nickels and dimes. “HoJo’s” then took pride in its menu offering 28 ice cream flavors (Baskin-Robbins was years in the future). I was up to my sticky elbows in those myriads of vats of ice cream, and I soon gave up trying to match ice cream scooped with requested flavors, much less trying to count all those coins. I quit at the end of my shift.
-Kerry Bryan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (kerrylll verizon.net)

At age 16, I worked 0.4 mooches on my first adult job. Determined to show my parents I was responsible I found work through a newspaper ad. Using public transportation, at 6 a.m. I set out to conquer the world. I folded policemen onto their seat and placed them in an upside down toy car on an assembly line. After three days I took a day off to apply for a gofer job, returning Friday to find out my seat had been taken on the line. Luckily, a woman went to a wedding that day and I finished my first job testing the toy car tires on a ramp. 18 years later, after high school and college and other job adventures, I spent 684 mooches teaching.
-Danielle Austin, San Diego, California (danielle13 san.rr.com)

In my early 20s I worked one scaramouch as a hotel maid. It helped me realize that far too many people are absolute pigs when staying in hotels, and hardly anyone tips housekeepers. It influenced my many, many stays in hotel rooms over the past 40 years. I always tip at least $5 per night, and I take as much care to clean up after myself as I do at home -- where I also do not make the bed!
-Marty Born, Bethel, Alaska (marty.born gmail.com)

You asked about a measure of briefness coined after the example of Anthony Scaramucci. Here’s one from South Africa: “Weekend Special Des van Rooyen”. Van Rooyen was in office in arguably the most critical cabinet portfolio in South Africa from 10 to 13 December 2015 -- four days. And what a consequential four days it was! The currency plunged against most world currencies and the rapid change in Finance Ministers wiped untold billions in wealth from the country’s balance sheet. Cry, the beloved country, indeed...
Seems like Scaramucci lasted 2.5 times as long as our “Weekend Special”.
-Kobus Kruger, South Africa (kk.lists gmail.com)

I’d just like to say I spent 109 of the longest Scaramouches of life in the Army 50 years ago.
-Wes Reynolds, Croton, New York (wes rinsey.com)

Units Coined After Someone

A scaramouch is a very long time in politics. I present for the edification of A.Word.A.Day enthusiasts the meninga, a unit of time equal to about ten seconds.
-Harko Werkman, Hobart, Australia (wooddragons yahoo.com.au)

One toilet paper year: how long a roll lasts in your household.
-Margaret J. King, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (mjking9 comcast.net)

A dear friend measured much of life in Kevins -- her husband’s 6’ height.
-Liisa Beckman, Saint Anthony, Minnesota

The severity of a scientific blunder should be measured in milli-Midgleys. After developing CFCs, responsible for destruction of the ozone layer, Thomas Midgley went on to develop tetraethyl lead, a petrol additive, responsible for the destruction of children’s brain cells.
The unit of bad luck should be the Sullivan after Roy Sullivan, the only man to be struck by lightning seven times. Or, given that he survived all seven, maybe that should be good luck.
-Denis Toll, Aberdeen, Scotland (denis.toll outlook.com)

Benoit Mandelbrot was the mathematician best known for Mandelbrot sets. A friend of mine, who pioneered making fractals practical for computer graphics, told me that a nanobenoit was a unit of ego.
-Craig Good, Vallejo, California (clgood me.com)

A Trump: any amount of time that seems way longer than it is, due to how horrible an experience it is.
-Adam Gordon, Los Gatos, California (adam oyagroup.com)

When our kids were young when on a car trip they would always ask the question about when we were going to get there. Half an hour was an alien concept to them, but we came up a meaningful measurement. They used to watch a BBC claymation series called Pingu. The episodes were about 5 minutes long. So if we were 15 minutes away from our destination, we were 3 Pingus away. The kids could relate to that and were satisfied with the answer.
-Chris Hanley, Toronto, Canada (chrisjhanley hotmail.com)

I recall that when we needed to express some unit of time with our first child born in 1973, we found that using Scoobys as units of the time worked pretty well. One episode of the TV show Scooby Doo lasted a half hour. So when we could tell her that “We’ll be leaving for the store in two Scoobys”, she had a sense of how long that would be. It’s still a unit of time in our family.
-Art Roche, Dubuque, Iowa (rocheart3 msn.com)

A pompeo -- the amount of time it takes to fly to North Korea; achieve nothing except rejection, humiliation, and jet-lag; and fly back to the US.
-Edward Cooper, Carlsbad, California (via website comments)

From the IT world: The shortest time span known to man (this one, anyway): An onosecond: the time between hitting “enter” and wishing you hadn’t.
-Steve Swift, Alton, UK (steve.j.swift gmail.com)

I was on the admin staff of a struggling hospital. Our Chief Financial Officer was named John Martin; he was a very good CFO -- even had a sense of humor -- but he was always worried about cash flow, and he insisted on setting up an emergency cash reserve. So, the rest of us coined the term a martin which is a measurement of time -- an extremely short period of time: the martin -- the elapsed time between the establishment of a fund in case of emergency and the arrival of that emergency.
-Dick Adam, Berkeley, California (bhvnyd vom.com)

The emcee, one radian per second, a unit of rotation (including flipping). After Michael Cohen, former lawyer for Trump. Chose emcee rather than cohen as Cohen, from kohen, is a distinguished surname in the Jewish community, referencing persons in the priestly line of descent.
-Martin L. Buchanan, Laramie, Wyoming (martinlbuchanan gmail.com)

Tom & Ray Magliozzi, long time hosts of NPR’s Car Talk program, had fun with a measure of girth they named the Pinkwater. Children’s book author and former NPR Commentator Daniel Pinkwater is “rump challenged” (their words describing Mr. Pinkwater’s size). They wanted to describe the width of car seats in some number of Pinkwaters. Funny stuff as Mr. Pinkwater was egging them on through the process.
-Doug Wolfe, Morehead City, North Carolina (douglas.e.wolfe gmail.com)

My wife used to reckon units of weight in operatic tenor divisions: one Domingo plus 2/3 Carreras equals one Pavarotti. A hot-air balloon can lift seven Pavarottis, and so on.
-Ian Kearey, Brighton, UK (kearey54 icloud.com)

How about the famous unit of linear measure (famous among geeks, at least), the smoot, named for Oliver Smoot (MIT, class of 1962)? See here for details. The Harvard Bridge here in Boston-Cambridge is marked off (literally, in paint on the sidewalks) in smoots, each about 5’7” or 1.702 m. (Incongruously, the Harvard Bridge actually spans the Charles River at MIT and is miles from Harvard.)
-Alan Zaitchik, Boston, Massachusetts (alanzaitchik yahoo.com)

My youngest brother, Lee Meyer, is an architect. Once he was on a project site and wanted to do some measurements. To his chagrin he realized his faithful measuring tape was not in his pocket. Looking around, he found a small board at the site and decided it would be a meyer -- the measurement for the day. He brought the board back to the office and made the necessary calculations for the project. Since then, the meyer has become a relevant form of measurement -- but he also makes sure that he has a standard measuring tape in his pocket when he heads for a site visit.
-Lois Meyer Voeltz, Woodland Park, Colorado (colovoeltz gmail.com)

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Friedman Unit. It’s “six months from now”, when everything will be perfect. Friedman is a New York Times columnist who repeatedly said it after the Iraq invasion. “One Friedman Unit is equal to six months, specifically the ‘next six months’, a period repeatedly declared by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to be the most critical of the then-ongoing Iraq War even though such pronouncements extended back over two and a half years.”
-Bill Young (billsplut gmail.com)

Per the wikipedia article you referenced:
Fame: Warhol
This is a unit of fame or hype, derived from Andy Warhol’s dictum “everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes”. It represents, naturally, fifteen minutes of fame. Some multiples are: 1 kilowarhol -- famous for 15,000 minutes, or 10.42 days. A sort of metric “nine-day wonder”.
So a Mooch would be about 960 Warhols.
-Martin L. Buchanan (martinlbuchanan gmail.com)

From: Paul Varotsis (paul varotsis.plus.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--scaramouch

Mayflies despite their name and reputation live a lot longer, possibly years, as nymphs or naiads. Only entomologists would think of calling these aquatic insects after the beautiful maidens of mythology! Like Scaramucci’s stint in government, the flying insect is just a short phase in a long life.

Paul Varotsis, London, UK

Email of the Week brought to you by “Picasso and Me” -- Read the latest One Up! blogsplaining here.

From: Colleen Weisz (colleenweisz aol.com)
Subject: Scaramouche

I’ve always loved the quotation from Rafael Sabatini’s novel, Scaramouche:

“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”

My Mom told us that’s how we should be!

Colleen Weisz, Solon, Ohio

From: Bob Worsley (bob.worsley gmail.com)
Subject: Scaramouch. A wonderful evocative word

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody 1975 (video, 2 min.): “Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango?”

A word well-known by people of the Queen generation.

Bob Worsley, Brisbane, Australia

From: Ron Rozewski (ronroza1 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Molotov cocktail

During my “improvised explosives” training in 1963 as a Special Forces demolitionist, I learned how to make self-igniting cocktails using potassium chlorate and sugar described among a number of variants in this “more than you need to know” article on Wiki.

Ron Rozewski, Santa Rosa, California

From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: roister-doister

I first read the play Ralph Roister Doister in a college class on English drama from 900-1642, sans Shakespeare. I’d recommend anyone interested in Shakespeare to take some time to read the plays of his contemporaries, playwrights such as Jonson, Dekker, Heyward, Webster, Massinger, and Ford. One will find passages of superb poetry in the plays from these writers.

The play Ralph Roister Doister begins with a prologue, which limns what the play will be about, what it will try to do. Here are the first four lines of the third and last stanza of the prologue:

Our comedy, or interlude, which we intend to play
Is named “Roister Doister indeed,
Whose against the vainglorious doth inveigh,
Whose humor the roistering sort continually doth feed.

Perhaps the greatest weapon to utilize against the vainglorious and arrogant and self-righteous is not strident indignation, a venting of spleen, a shrill cry of loathing and censure; no, perhaps a more effective response is to mock a narcissistic jackanapes, a loutish coxcomb, laugh at his absurd pretentiousness, reveal him for the poltroon he is. As the last line quoted above says, these kind of people, those puffed and swollen rotten with their self-importance, never cease to provide fodder for the humorist. Nothing shows more contempt for the egotistic braggart than to mock him, to refuse to take him seriously, which grates against him because he takes himself seriously.

When a person, in the living of his life, in his profession, in his morals and principles, is a clown, nothing is served in exegesis and labored analysis of him: one should laugh at a clown, dismiss his solemn attempts to seem profound as the silliest of bagatelles, a pathetic attempt, as if a harlequin, his face painted, giant shoes on his feet, stands in the spotlight and attempts to lecture on Platonic idealism. Ah, let him run and join a clutch of other clowns and climb into a little car.

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina

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

Here is a song about Trump as a stable genius (video, 3 min.).

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Ramaswami S (ramaswami.s gmail.com)
Subject: Re: braggadocio

There’s a font named Braggadocio -- quite a fitting name when you see it.

S. Ramaswami, Thanjavur, India

From: Judy Blish (jblish otenet.gr)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--braggadocio

Great use of the word, in case you missed it: (video, 3 min.).

Judy Blish, Athens, Greece

From: Bobby Mitchell (bobbyjoemitchell yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--braggadocio

Braggadocio is the name of a town in MO that was near Caruthersville, where we lived for several years.

Bobby Mitchell

From: Aston Clulow (leukorrivore gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dickensian

I used to be politically active, and we used to use the term "Dickensian" disparagingly for ideas that revolved around poverty being solved by benefactors. For example, millionaires with very poor records on labour conditions in their companies publicly congratulating themselves for the large charitable investments they've made (often for tax purposes).

Aston Clulow, Sydney, Australia

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: scaramouch and braggadocio

From the White House to the doghouse. Here, Trump bids farewell to his short-term (10 days) Director of Communications, Anthony Scaramucci... aka “The Mooch”. Clearly perturbed, he’s briskly exiting the hallowed White House Rose Garden.* Curiously, post-firing, The Mooch has remained steadfastly loyal to Trump, where he’s transitioned himself into one of those talking-head TV pundits, defending his former boss at almost every turn, yet, on occasion, calling him out whenever he feels Trump has “crossed the line”. Scaramucci appears to savor the media limelight almost as much as that pompous guy who told him... “You’re FIRED!”.
*My caption is a steal from a 1977 country-western hit tune popularized by songstress Lynn Anderson, titled “I Beg Your Pardon... I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.”

Scaramouch Braggadocio
First off, apologies to the cartoonist Gary Larson, creator of the comic strip The Far Side. I borrowed the gist of his braggadocious retired cartoonist’s hyperbolic words and expansive arm action from a much more simply drawn “Far Side” cartoon published decades ago that has become indelibly etched in my noggin as one of his finest. Perhaps because the characters in this scenario are retired cartoonists, like yours truly, this one in particular struck a chord. The aged braggart may have even animated on Disney’s classic Pinocchio, where liars never prosper and schnozzes grow and grow.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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


1. scaramouch
2. Molotov cocktail
3. roister-doister
4. braggadocio
5. Dickensian
1. comic image
2. corridor attack - SOS!
3. rogue lad
4. echo Don's boast
5. Victorian ilk
1. scaramouch
2. Molotov cocktail
3. roister-doister
4. braggadocio
5. Dickensian
1. dopier skite
2. missile
3. egoist or avid bacchant
4. gascon or cockalorum
5. Ron Moody act
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

He's a clown, and a rogue -- scaramouche.
Out fly his tweets daily -- whoosh, whoosh.
The press parrot him.
Our future looks grim!
Oh, please, Donald, fermez la bouche.
-Anna C Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

Trump's a rascal; for this I can vouch
And I don't mean to sound like a grouch.
He's a living cartoon,
He's a prancing buffoon,
And a coward? Indeed. Scaramouch
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

Bad boy Scaramouche wasn't alone,
Two other guys didn't atone.
Did Dickensian condition
Cause their perdition
Or were they just bad to the bone?
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

As Mueller descends with a whoosh,
Time is up for our chief scaramouche.
Says Donald, "No pardon
For rats who plea bargain,
‘Cuz truth-telling makes you a douche.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Molotov cocktail in its two avatars
is lethal as a weapon and in bars.
One is hit and run,
the other, hit and have fun.
Ban the bomb, but give the drink four stars!
-Shyamal Mukherji, Wakefield, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

We gnash our teeth and weep and wail,
We have no symbol, no Holy Grail;
Instead, some youth
Are so uncouth
They riot, they throw a Molotov cocktail.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

An Oscar they give to some schlock tale
Which merits a Molotov cocktail.
A Hollywood movie?
I’ll take my jacuzzi,
Or Sears, when they’re having a sock sale.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The man who’s in charge is, I think,
A roister-doister rinky-dink.
And such a clown
Can drag us down --
I wonder to what depths we’ll sink.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Just a simple new dance step, he’d said,
but she learned she’d been badly misled
when the sly roister-doister
decided to hoist ‘er
over his head. So she fled.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Donald Trump, he’s a real roister-doister,
Oh, he fancies himself a shrewd meister.
His long litany of laws
Filled with such terrible flaws,
Renders him a pathetic Prez shyster.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Mr. Trump, the mad roister-doister,
Insisted his fingers were moister
When pressing keys tightly
While posting tweets nightly.
A buffoon with the world as his oyster.
-Larry Ray, Gulfport, Mississippi (callball bellsouth.net)

Brother John was a monk in a cloister
Who mistakenly swallowed an oyster.
Though he thought he was rid o’
His pesky libido
That night he was John Roister-Doister.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

An interesting word, braggadocio.
Doesn’t it describe someone we all know?
A serial cheater,
a compulsive tweeter,
a man who’s no substance and all just for show.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Shoving world leaders out of his way
To get to the forefront, I say
With braggadocio and swagger
Will he fall on his dagger
As he feasts on his bully buffet?
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

We hear the word braggadocio
Reminding us of someone we know.
Everyday he’s who we hear.
He just will not disappear.
But one day, our votes soon, will make him go.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

A puppet by name of Pinocchio
Would lie with bald-faced braggadocio.
This increased all his woes,
For so long grew his nose
That his girl Juliet preferred Romeo.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

As ‘round all the world do oceans flow,
So too does our chief’s braggadocio.
But outside his circle
Macron, May, and Merkel
Have promised they won’t let his notions grow.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Trump took all the children away.
That’s the price immigrants should pay.
Held in cages cramp and damp,
Dickensian “Summer Camp”.
So cruel. This is not USA.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Dickensian conditions were grossly vile.
Street waifs cared for by a paedophile.
Institutions would be cruel.
Fed the orphans on gruel,
And they were expected to “Come up and SMILE!”
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

Said Tweety, “My life is Dickensian
On account of adventures Sylvestrian.
He’s a mean puddy tat
But he always falls flat,
For that’s part of his job as a thespian.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Eponymic puns so cloudy they’re epic nimbuses

Phyllis Diller had a face that could scaramouch or a grizzly.

Was Assange’s mole a toff? Cocktail for him, then!

I can’t possibly pun “roister-doister”
Couldn’t even if locked in a cloister.
I think Garg’s trying to thwart
My contemptible art
To make certain the world’s not my oyster.

At Fort Braggadocio was built for teaching martial arts.

“I’d like a 1950s’ book on sexual behavior... Dickensian if you have it.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The first casualty when war comes is truth. -Hiram Johnson, governor and senator (1866-1945)
[Note: According to Mardy Grothe, this quotation is apocryphal. See his comment below.]

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