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Nov 11, 2018
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stormy petrel

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AWADmail Issue 854

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

Sponsor’s Message: You think you’re pretty intelligent, right? Probably got a college degree, or two. A goodish job. Fairly well-read. Large vocabulary. We could throw ‘recalcitrance’ out there and you might not even flinch. Same here. But we can honestly and definitively say you may be smart but you aren’t wicked smart. Don’t believe us? Then please join this week’s Email of the Week winner, Elizabeth Block (see below), as well as all the other know-it-alls out there for an old’s cool lesson in enlightenment and humility. Click here, classical liberals >

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

Sign Language Reveals the Hidden Logical Structure, and Limitations, of Spoken Language

In the Early Days, Etymology Was Much Easier
SMBC Comics

From: Mike Young (youmike mweb.co.za)
Subject: Trumped-up

Extract from the Oxford English Dictionary entry for the verb “trump”:

trump, v.
To give forth a trumpet-like sound; spec. to break wind audibly (slang or vulgar).

Seems a very appropriate use to me.

SMJ (Mike) Young, Sedgefield, South Africa

From: Jonathan Rickert (therickerts hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trumped-up

Re your intro to Monday’s AWAD, as usual there is a word for it. Closing your eyes, opening a dictionary, or other authoritative book, and pointing a finger somewhere on the page is informally known as the dip method and more formally as sortes biblicae or sortilege. It was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome and was employed by both St. Augustine and St. Francis of Assisi as a means of finding spiritual direction at critical points in their lives -- the dip method is often associated with the Bible.

My father, a devout man who resorted to sortilege successfully at least once in his life, used to tell the (probably) apocryphal story of the spiritually troubled man who sought divine guidance in that way. On his first attempt, his finger rested on the phrase “(Judas) went and hanged himself” Matthew 27:5). Not believing that such a message could be relevant for him, he tried again, only to come up with the phrase “go and do Thou likewise” (Luke 10:37). What happened next is not known.

Jonathan Rickert, Washington, DC

From: Jill Sidders (jill.sidders gmail.com)
Subject: a propos What are the odds?

What are the odds on this? I bought a photo frame which came with a bag full of words you could attach to the frame, which was magnetic. I picked out -- at random and in this exact order -- laugh, dream, believe in love. Not a bad motto!

Randomness works in mysterious ways.
-Anu Garg

From: Chip Taylor (via website comments)
Subject: Getting random words from the dictionary

I tried closing my eyes and opening the dictionary but I opened Excel instead. Not easy pointing and clicking with your eyes closed. So, I opened it with my eyes open. I then closed my eyes and pointed my finger, but my touch screen opened Acrobat Reader. Not sure what your methods were, Anu, but they sure did not work for me!

Chip Taylor

From: Elizabeth McIntyre (emcintyre25438 gmail.com)
Subject: Stormy petrel

I learned about stormy petrels when I was about 12, reading Conan Doyle. In one adventure Holmes called Watson “the stormy petrel of crime”.

Elizabeth McIntyre, McLouth, Kansas

From: Marc Chelemer (mc2496 att.com)
Subject: Stormy petrel

It is interesting that the use in written or spoken English to mean a harbinger of trouble attaches the y at the end of the first word. The English “surname” for all the birds in this family (e.g., Leach’s, Band-rumped, Wilson’s, etc.) is Storm-Petrel, hyphenated and without the y. The attachment of the y describes a personality (as in “stormy disposition”).

Marc Chelemer, Tenafly, New Jersey

From: Christine Whittlesey (christine.whittlesey aon.at)
Subject: A Thought for Today (6 Nov)

I don’t think that combat has ever been written about truthfully; it has always been described in terms of bravery and cowardice. I won’t even accept these words as terms of human reference any more. And anyway, hell, they don’t even apply to what, in actual fact, modern warfare has become. -James Jones, novelist (6 Nov 1921-1977)

As an echo to the Thought for Today about thinking of and referring to war as a matter of bravery and cowardice, I just read a very interesting book by Svetlana Alexeieva: The Unwomanly Face of War. It consists of oral accounts of their experiences in WW2 of women who served as soldiers in the Soviet army. They were snipers, or commanders, or doctors, nurses, normal soldiers, many various functions. What they have to tell was not wanted to be heard until fairly recently, as war has been considered a strictly masculine experience. However, it vitally affects the lives of the entire populace. This book is valid for all countries involved in that or any war, and touches deeply.

Christine Whittlesey, Gleisdorf, Austria

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

Abraham Lincoln suffered from melancholia and took a mercury preparation as treatment. After becoming president, he stopped taking the pills as they “made him cross”. Doctors have since learned what a bad idea the treatment was.

Ramaswami S, Thanjavur, India

From: Rachel Golda (goldarachel gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--melancholia

Melancholia is used in the Bible to describe King Saul. It was actually the way they translated his real illness, which was manic-depressive (bipolar). IOW, bipolar was frequently described as melancholia. At least, that’s what I learned in Hebrew school.

Rachel Golda, West Hollywood, California

From: Del deSouza (deldesouza hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--melancholia

A bit of dietary advice from a friend: Do not combine melon and cauliflower as it might make you melan-cauli.

Del de Souza, Mumbai, India

Email of the Week Old’s Cool = Old School + Wit - Life’s ludic and lovely lessons upside the head.)

From: Elizabeth Block (elizabethblock netzero.net)
Subject: melancholia

Melancholy, or melancholia, was the name in previous ages for what we now call depression. A few weeks ago I was talking to a woman who said she was depressed, and I gave her advice from the 17th-century Anatomy of Melancholy, “Be not solitary, be not idle.” Still good advice. She said she would take it!

Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada

From: Adam Prine (adam.prine asu.edu)
Subject: Theme?

I am LOVING this week’s “random” words. We need more random events like this. Now if only “impeachment” or “life sentence” shows up. Or both, while I’m wishing.

Adam Prine, Tempe, Arizona

From: Denis Toll (denis.toll outlook.com)
Subject: pensive

I’ve sat down and thought about it for quite a while but I still haven’t come up with anything to say about today’s word ;(

Denis Toll, Aberdeen, Scotland

From: Laird White (lairdkw gmail.com)
Subject: pensive

I am pensive about who will be president if Trump is impeached.

Laird White, Arlington, Virginia

From: Dorothy Smith (dotcostume gmail.com)
Subject: Pensive

The Harry Potter series features JK Rowling’s marvelous creation of the pensieve, a bowl belonging to Dumbledore that contains other people’s memories, which he shares with Harry. Possibly it can be used to clear one’s mind by getting rid of troublesome thoughts.

Dorothy Smith, Scottsville, Virginia

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

The adjective brings to mind John Milton’s great poem Il Penseroso (which could be rendered as the melancholy thinker), as well as Rodin’s famous statue Le Penseur, a human figure leaning on the palm of his hand, in foreboding contemplation of an uncertain future.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Linda Fulton (lindaf946 frontier.com)
Subject: Huckster

My husband grew up in rural Brown County, Ohio, barely five miles north of the Kentucky state line. In the 1930s/40s, before supermarkets were on every corner and when country stores could still be found, a huckster wagon would go around on the roads and offer the farmers’ wives whatever they might need. I don’t think they were ever regarded as charlatans, but rather just offered an early version of home delivery.

Linda Fulton, Aberdeen, Ohio

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: huckster/trumped-up and stormy petrel

The old adage, “Buyer beware!”, couldn’t be more aptly illustrated (I’m biased), as in this satiric play on the shady wheeling-and-dealings of the quintessential huckster of legend, Snake Oil Sam, here, in the guise of “Snake-Oil Trump”... our Charlatan-in-Chief, selling allegedly authentic potable “virtues” to his unquestioning, fawning America-Firsters. So much for honoring the moral standard of truth in labeling. Truth be told, this consummate master of the con, for his almost two full years in power has been the purveyor of myriad lies, promoter of glaring intolerance in the form of xenophobia, misogyny, and racism, while turning a blind eye to anything resembling fair play, civility, or ethical rectitude. Donald J. Trump, NYC born-and-bred lifelong huckster, has trumped-up yet another bogus money-grubbing scheme. (Pun intended.) Can we say “Trump University”, boys and girls?

Trumped-up Stormy petrel
In this grim scenario-on-the-briny, I’ve depicted the ill-fated seaman from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, who had unwisely slain this once magnificent, great-winged albatross with a cross-bow arrow shot, the lifeless avian corpse hanging pathetically from the sailor’s neck, his irate crewmen having thus punished their captain for his grave misdeed. A scolding stormy petrel, a legendary harbinger of pending doom and gloom, had earlier warned the cursed sailor of ill winds ablowin’. Yet he heeded not, thus suffering the consequences of his ill-conceived deed. The stormy petrel and the wandering albatross... two not uncommon pelagic bird species of nautical lore, who have perhaps been unfairly linked to malevolence and future misfortune.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
Random words
1. trumped-up
2. pensive
3. melancholia
4. huckster
5. stormy petrel
1. pretenses well-put
2. thinkers are
3. dumps
4. crier; TV adman; CRM
5. plumy hoodoo
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

Trumped up is the mood of our nation
As we squirm at his every violation.
Most Republicans abhor Donald
And yearn for another Ronald
And a return to civilization.
-Norm Brust, New York, New York (normbrust yahoo.com)

Once you start the political game
You will find life is never the same.
You can’t get all jumped up
By charges they’ve trumped-up
(Which is, oddly, our President’s name!)
-Jeanie Joaner Garrett (joanersings gmail.com)

John Barron picked up the phone
With guile and nerve overblown.
While looking for glory,
Spewed a trumped-up story.
This deception is hard to condone.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

What passed through my mind when reading “trumped-up”?
Nothing right away, i.e. jumped-up.
I tried to think anew
But nothing passed through,
Then, “Donald”; my breakfast I chucked-up.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

When told of the meaning of “trumped-up”,
“How thrilling!” said Donald, all pumped up.
“They’ve given my name
To complete lack of shame
About facts, and my ratings have jumped up!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

One more limerick challenge today.
I think Stormy Daniels right away.
Without a shred of doubt,
Stormy petrel will shout,
“It was Donald who wanted to play!”
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

There once was a Stormy Petrel
Who often liked to fly retral.
He had a close shave
With an errant wave,
And it made him an all wet gull.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“In the White House, my presence is spectral,”
Joked Ms. Daniels. “I’m called Stormy Petrel.
We two were no saints,
But he’s got no complaints,
For to him, those two minutes were special.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Melancholia indicates sadness and depression.
Choler reveals anger and aggression.
If you are phlegmatic,
Your mood is apathetic
And if sanguine, you will smile all through a recession!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

When melancholia’s my fate,
And I’m in an awful state,
Delicious food
Can lift my mood --
With cheesecake I self-medicate.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Though he suffered severe melancholia,
His phrasing was sweet as magnolia.
With “Four score and seven,”
The crowds were in heaven;
Abe Lincoln knew how to cajole ya.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He seduced her with riches extensive
Though she appeared chary and pensive.
So he waived a pre-nup
And his wealth perked her up.
Now she’s cheerful and surely ex-pensive.
-Willo Oswald, Portland, Oregon (willooswald gmail.com)

With the Dems in the House, Trump got pensive.
“This entire #MeToo thing is offensive.
Since those gals snagged a seat,
I am taking such heat,
Vlad, I’m tellin’ you, I’m apprehensive.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

My Tech Lead told me I must upskill
or surely get a pink slip I will.
Since then I have been pensive,
these programs are expensive
and the bank manager unkind and shrill.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Laughed Mike, “You’re ‘trumped-up,’ but I’m ‘pensive,’
For VPs should remain inoffensive.
After every mass shooting,
For guns you keep rooting,
But me? A sad face, prayers extensive.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Though the lady appears quite sincere,
it’s hard to believe what we hear.
But why blame the huckster
for peddling this muck? Her
commander’s a skilled puppeteer.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A huckster might sell you Brooklyn Bridge,
An acre of swamp, a worn-out fridge.
One must be wary,
And then buy nary
Faulty material, corduroy sans ridge.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

When the fog of dishonesty clears,
when our good common sense reappears,
we will see that a huckster
has had too much luck stir-
-ring up people’s hatreds and fears.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

When he sneaks in at 3 and he ducks her,
Asks Melania, “Where ya been, buster?”
With a leer and a smirk
Donald answers, “At work,”
But that’s life with a real-estate huckster.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Yet again Phil randumb puns by Anu

45’s tariff increases = trumped-up charges.

The latter-day pirate said, “I stormy petrel below decks.”

Melvin looked awful. I said, “Go home, Melancholia docta.”

Despite his surname our VP seems anything but pensive.

Though Becky Thatcher was Tom Sawyer’s girl, she made huckster in his britches.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center. -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., writer (11 Nov 1922-2007)

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