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Aug 18, 2019
This week’s theme
Words from space travel

This week’s words
moon shot
rocket science
space cadet

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
People who became verbs

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AWADmail Issue 894

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

Sponsor’s Message: We’ve finally become our own worst nightmare: a sell out. Large anonymous corporation gets wind of One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game and wants to license it worldwide. We say sure, why not? Creativity, principles, artistic integrity, success on our own terms? Right out the window at the first sign of cash we’re happy to say. Seriously, we’re offering all AWADers, including Email of the Week winner, Sue Frankewicz (see below), 50% OFF our Special Dark Edition, while supplies last. Once this limited and lovely version of our best-selling cutthroat IQ contest is gone, it’s gone forever. So, smarten up (on the cheap) RIGHT AWAY >

From: Joe Ware (patriot505 aol.com)
Subject: moon shot

As a young Air Force captain I had the privilege to be the Requirements & Standards Officer for the Gemini Launch Vehicle, which “tested the waters” for the actual moon shot. Many of the men I worked with were World War II veterans and they brought that wonderful “can do” attitude of that special generation to the program. They were and are my heroes.

Joe Ware, Col., USAF (Ret.), San Antonio, Texas

From: Fred Glienna (fglienna aol.com)
Subject: Moon shot

The LA Dodgers had an outfielder named Wally Moon in the late 1950s-early 1960s. The Dodgers also had a short left-field (252 feet) with a ridiculous, 40-foot high screen to prevent easy home runs. Moon’s specialty was a high, lofty slice that would clear the screen. Fans called them Moon shots.

Fred Glienna, Pasadena, California

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Light-years

You wrote: A light-year is a unit of distance -- there’s no such unit as a heavy-year (nor is there a dark-year).

I dispute that there’s no such thing as a dark-year. We’ve just had 2 1/2 of them, and have at least 1 1/2 to go.

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Marty Pulvers (mpulvers aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rocket science

My close friends have a sister-in-law who is a team leader at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. With my friends, she and her husband share a ranch in Paso Robles. Arriving there one weekend, she noticed that the TV’s directional dish on the roof of the house was not working. She climbed onto the roof, took off the dish, and dismantled it on the kitchen table, noting which parts needed replacing. She then went to the town’s Radio Shack and started asking for those parts. After the 5th or so request, the clerk became curious and wondered what she was working on. When told that she was repairing a satellite dish, the clerk shook his head and said, “You can’t do that, you’d have to be a rocket scientist.” As she hadn’t changed from work, she held out the ID badge hanging from her neck and said, matter-of-factly, “I am a rocket scientist.”

Marty Pulvers, Mountain View, California

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- Play mind games on the cheap NOW >

From: Sue Frankewicz (suefrankewicz9 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rocket science

The story I heard about 20 years ago: They asked the general public what they said to express this sentiment and they replied, “It’s not brain surgery!”

Then they asked a group of brain surgeons what they say in this situation and they said, “It’s not rocket science!”

So they asked the rocket scientists what they say and they replied, “It’s not theoretical physics!”

They couldn’t find a group of theoretical physicists large enough to constitute a viable sample.

Sue Fraser Frankewicz, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

From: Bryan Todd (boyanlj gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rocket science

Ah, rocket science. Not exactly ... now, is it? I love this classic two-minute sketch from Mitchell and Webb.

Bryan Todd, Lincoln, Nebraska

From: Steve Gilford (sageprod aya.yale.edu)
Subject: rocket science

At a folk-style musical gathering, one activity was forming “hat bands”. Names were drawn at random from a hat in groups of four. They would have one hour to prepare a song to begin the impromptu concert. One of the people in my group was on the MIT faculty. He played the autoharp. After the concert, an enthusiastic woman who had been very impressed with his playing said how difficult it must be to play that 36-string instrument. He assured her that it was not as difficult as it might look. “It’s not rocket science”, he said. Then he paused for a moment as the realization struck him. “I am a rocket scientist!”

Steve Gilford, Petaluma, California

From: Charles Douglas Sauer (chugsauer yahoo.com)
Subject: rocket science

I thought a bright and clever twist to this was “rocket surgery”. Try it as a substitute in a sentence and see how it goes.

Charles Douglas Sauer, Victoria, Canada

From: Mary Monroe (damaris430 comcast.net)
Subject: space cadet

Sorry, but this term does not generally imply that being “spaced out” or having one’s “mind in space” is “probably ... a result of drug use.” There are plenty of reasons to space out, as I myself know, and as I have observed in others.

Mary Monroe, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

From: Marek Boym (marekboym walla.co.il)
Subject: Space cadet

In Israel, a person out of touch with reality is referred to as an astronaut. I wonder whether the American expression has influenced ours.

Marek Boym, Raanana, Israel

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Moon shot

Moon Shot
Take me out to the ball game! Here, I’m tossing out a two-fer, of sorts, as LA Dodgers’ former slugger Wally Moon launches a moon shot, what most baseball aficionados would recognize as a towering infield popup. As an early baby-boomer, and longtime diehard Dodgers fan, I still have fond memories of Saturday mornings glued to our B&W TV (and later, our first color set), watching outfielder Moon and his fellow “Boys in Blue”... Duke Snyder, Gil Hodges, Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax, Peewee Reese, et al., dominate their National League division through the late 1950s, and well into the 1960s, capturing numerous NL pennants and several season-ending World Series crowns. The American League New York Yankees were their perennial arch rivals. Needless to say, Dodgers fans, of what many would argue was the golden age of Major League Baseball, were over-the-moon thrilled with their Wally Moon’s sparkling performances in the field and at the plate.

Space Cadet
In this scenario, Donald Trump assumes the guise of a NASA astronaut. In his typical braggadocio manner, he’s clearly more than confident... more like cocksure, that he’d make a superb space cadet. Yet his legion of critics might argue that Trump already exhibits all the earmarks of a bona fide “space cadet”... the far less flattering iteration, no doubt... namely, a total whack-job, where they’re apt to seriously question the workings of the inner space between his ears, as opposed to imaging Le Grand Orange as an actual NASA astronaut vaulting through the inky vastness of outer space. Notice I took the liberty of inferencing the planet Mars, normally called “The Red Planet”, as “Red/Orange”, befitting Trump’s characteristically florid/orangey visage.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
This week’s theme - Words from space travel:
1. moon shot
2. light-year
3. rocket science
4. lift-off
5. space cadet
1. scheme
2. far off
3. knowledge matches with prospects
4. accelerate to fly, visit the cosmos
5. trainee; dork
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

Said the high-jumping cow to the cat,
“Your fiddling’s too loud, and it’s flat.
This dissonant tune’s not
assisting my moon shot.
Quit hey-diddle-diddling, and scat!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Trump’s election? The worst US moon shot,
So let’s take a look what we’ve now got:
An orange buffoon
And a living cartoon;
Without thought, we’ve elected a crackpot.
-Joe Budd Stevens, MD, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

When he stepped on the surface, he soon got
Much acclaim for his part in the moon shot.
“....One giant leap for mankind”,
The mission was so defined,
And Neil Armstrong became a famed astronaut.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

A reality star tried a moon shot,
And our nation as POTUS a goon got.
By historical freak
We’re now far up the creek,
But take heart: to the polls we will soon trot.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Says the pilot, while donning his flight gear,
“There’s something that doesn’t look right here!
This schedule, you see,
makes apparent to me
that our trip will take more than a light-year!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A most sleazy old man said, “come here,
I want you to kiss me, my dear.”
Said the girl with dismay,
“Just get out of my way,
Put between you and me a light-year.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Languid times seem like light-years away,
When binging with friends made my day.
Soon Doc had to be called,
And the merriment stalled;
To weekend cook-outs he said nay.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

What racist remark will Trump say?
What con job’s he pulling today?
Who else will he smear?
Which tweet will spread fear?
Obama seems light-years away.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Woody always is brave and sincere.
So’s his pal, Astronaut Buzz Lightyear
and those other great toys
loved by girls and by boys,
so let’s all give Pixar a big cheer.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Said Donald, “You’re pretty and white, dear,
And your buns form a lovely and tight sphere.
On our new application
To enter the nation,
You’ll pass every test by a light-year.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She questions her husband’s reliance
on strange unfamiliar appliance.
He quiets her, “Hush!
An electric toothbrush
is certainly not rocket science!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

It was a belief she soon came to dread.
Millennials think they’re light-years ahead
Of their parents. Not true.
What to do, what to do!
She sighed deeply and crawled into bed.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

We went out to dinner, you see,
And then split our bill into three.
We need an appliance
For this rocket science --
How tough calculation can be!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

To be prez you don’t need rocket science,
Or with laws always be in compliance.
Just play it by ear,
Your base always will cheer --
And be sure to bust every alliance.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

When you work in the outer space biz,
Then you must be an absolute wiz.
If someone in defiance,
Says, “It’s not rocket science.”
You can then reply, “Oh, yes it is!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“My Trump University clients,”
Said Donald, “were no mental giants.
If the public’s so dumb
That they dance when I hum,
We can win, Vlad, it’s not rocket science.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

There was once a young woman who’d scoff
At someone with an obvious cough.
Germaphobe to her core,
If a kid’s throat got sore,
She’d prepare for a hasty lift-off.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

I struggle to open the jug;
I twist and I turn and I tug.
But I am relieved
When lift-off’s achieved --
With whiskey I fill up my mug.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With a glow on his bright orange face,
Ten red ties he had packed in his case.
With his large bag of tricks
He had lift-off at six,
Heading out to be stroked by his base.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Said the tart, “Love, I’ll make you a stiff toff;
Every missile with me achieves lift-off.”
She went on, “First you pay,
Then I’ll love you all day,”
But it turned out to be quite a swift boff.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When the man arrived half an hour late,
she wondered, but knew her blind date
was a weird space cadet
when he poured vinaigrette
over ev’ry last thing on his plate.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The space cadet wears a blank stare,
For mentally she isn’t there.
She tunes out the teacher
Who tries hard to reach her --
Professors she drives to despair.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Our daughter’s in need of a tête-à-tête,”
To her husband bemoaned Lady Capulet.
“For she’s almost fourteen;
To be single’s obscene,
But a Montague boy? She’s a space cadet!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Kevins! These are Spacey puns.

He went to the country for peace and quiet but a cow’s moon shot that idea to hell.

I wish that fly would light-year so I could swat it.

The medium would make moaning sounds and rocket sciences. (rock at séances)

How can we ensure that Trump is lift-off the 2020 ballot?

“10 Minutes?! Who in that space cadet 74 hot dogs but Joey Chestnut?”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dreams heed no borders, the eyes need no visas. With eyes shut I walk across the line in time. All the time. -Gulzar, poet, lyricist, and film director (b. 18 Aug 1934)

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