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Dec 13, 2020
This week’s theme
Metal words

This week’s words
lead balloon

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Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 963

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

Sponsor’s Message: Quarantine got you down? Cooped up blues? Unpleasant relatives? Wise Up! -- is the perfect cure for cabin fever -- it’s a wicked/smart party card game that asks tons of devilishly difficult questions that’ll give you know-it-alls plenty of life lessons in humility, history, sports, science, literature, and geography. And wit. For example: Everyone knows the First and Second Amendments -- what’s the Third? Sleeping Beauty’s real name? How long is a furlong? But beware, there’s also a slew of “challenge” cards that chuck Darwinian physical and mental wrenches into the works, e.g., “Throw this card on the floor and pick it up without using your hands.” Just what the doctor ordered, especially for this week’s Email of the Week Winner, David Alan Dresser (see below), and hunkered-down brainiacs everywhere. Wise Up! + FREE Smarts Pills = unHappy Holidays!

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

Tone Is Hard to Grasp Online. Can Tone Indicators Help?
The New York Times

Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned ... Against the English Language

From: Judith Judson (jjudson frontier.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--brazen

A use of brazen which puzzled me as a child appears in Thackeray’s charming comic fairy tale The Rose and the Ring (the only work of the master that I wholeheartedly like) -- when the Fairy Blackstick turns the rude porter Gruffanuff into a door knocker, “he was, from being brazen, brass.” I didn’t get it then, love it now.

Judith Judson, Pittsford, New York

From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: A Brazen Article!

In parochial schools, c. 1960 -- at least in Philadelphia -- the nuns typically chastised a misbehaving student, especially a boy, for being a “brazen article”. Or, more mysteriously, a “bold piece”.

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania

From: Marge Simon (msimon6206 aol.com)
Subject: brazen

As an art major, I had to make a work of art by welding, using brass. I donned the goggles and gloves and called myself a “braizin’ woman”. Lord knows, it wasn’t a successful medium for me, but I got lots of help (read flattery) -- I was the only girl in the class.

Marge Simon, Ocala, Florida

From: Gary Muldoon (gmuldoon kamanesq.com)
Subject: brazen

The most famous poetic use of the word is found in the opening lines of Emma Lazarus’s poem The New Colossus, referring to the Colossus of Rhodes:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land ...

Gary Muldoon, Rochester, New York

From: EDM Landman MD (edmlbookgroup gmail.com)
Subject: quotation

The real index of civilization is when people are kinder than they need to be. -Louis de Bernieres, novelist (b. 8 Dec 1954)

The definition of a civilized nation is one where the police are not armed.

EDM Landman, MD, Post Mills, Vermont

From: Russell Hoffman (hoffmr4 sarhighschool.org)
Subject: civilization

Today’s quotation reminds me of Margaret Mead’s assertion that the first evidence of civilization was a healed broken femur found in an archeological site, because that was evidence that someone had to have helped that injured individual survive.

Russell Hoffman, New York, New York

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! + FREE Smarts Pills = unHappy Holidays!

From: David Alan Dresser (david1936 hotmail.com)
Subject: Paradise Lost

The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. -John Milton, poet (9 Dec 1608-1674)

I avoided reading Paradise Lost, thinking it too much of a religious swamp for my pleasure. But my reading group selected it and I loved it. It’s cool when the devil prevails and, of course, that upsets a large set of people. However, I have for years been telling my brother that the only heaven and the only hell is the one we make for ourselves. He is distressed, sure that my failure to believe in original sin, and so forth, will send me straight to hell when I die, while I am sure that I will just be dead.

David Alan Dresser, Seattle, Washington

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

Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, lost the 1911 general elections for not helping Britain with monetary aid in the mother country’s pre-war naval rivalry with Germany. Instead, Laurier put at Britain’s disposal a Canadian navy, consisting of a few ships refurbished from the Boer War, which the Conservative opposition derisively referred to as a tinpot navy.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Bob Weggel (bob_weggel mindspring.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tinpot

There is no frigate like a book / To take us lands away, / Nor any coursers like a page / Of prancing poetry. -Emily Dickinson, poet (10 Dec 1830-1886)

Thanks to you, another word has entered my vocabulary. Not, tinpot, but courser -- a “swift or spirited horse; a war horse or racer; a charger”, not (as I had speculated) perhaps an alternate spelling of corsair.

Bob Weggel, Reading, Massachusetts

From: Randy L. Coller (rcscruffy yahoo.com)
Subject: Lead balloon

In the world of hot air ballooning, when the temperature goes down, a pilot needs to heat the propane tanks in order to provide sufficient pressure for the burner. If you don’t, the propane doesn’t produce the usual amount of heat. One cool, sunny, fall day, I was in a hurry to make an afternoon flight. Taking my balloon out of an unheated garage and driving to the launch site, I thought, it will be ok, it’s a nice day, it’s not THAT cold. Well, not so much. The burner still produces a flame and noise, but not the usual amount of heat. It takes much longer burns to produce the same performance as when the propane is at normal temperature. My thought during the flight as I was intently burning to avoid contact with a tree during a descent was, “So this is what a lead balloon feels like!”

Randy L. Coller, Jackson, Michigan

From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
Subject: lead balloons

On the popular TV series Mythbusters the hosts succeeded in making a balloon out of lead that would actually float in the air when filled with helium and lift a small payload. As I remember, though, they expressed doubts about being able to make a “le[a]d Zeppelin”.

Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois

From: David Norton (djnorton0 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lead balloon

Of interest re lead balloon: Lead balloons launched. David Norton, Marlborough, Massachusetts

From: Richard S. Russell (RichardSRussell tds.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lead balloon

The illustration accompanying “lead balloon” shows a Wall Street type proclaiming “Let’s run government like a business”, which brings to mind this observation:

How to be successful in business: Maximize profits.

How to do that? Reduce expenses, increase revenues, or both.

So how does that translate to government? Reduce expenses = cut services. Increase revenues = raise taxes.

The last kind of person we should be voting for is one who claims (if not brags) that he’s “a successful businessman”.

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Marge Simon (msimon6206 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lead balloon

In my county, a superintendent of schools was hired who, though he’d no qualifications related to education, announced that schools should thenceforth be run “like businesses” (in reference to your cartoon of a businessman’s decreeing same applied to government). The superintendent then said that teachers had to remain in the building until 4 pm on the Friday before Winter Break, long after all the students had been dismissed. That went over like a lead balloon, you can imagine! Our principal was displeased with this order, and he wasn’t alone among other principals. He came on the intercom and said “Nobody is watching the parking lot!” You know, it’s absurd to try to run an elementary school like a business. That’s my observation, and I’m sticking to it.

Marge Simon, Ocala, Florida

From: Steve Wozniak (SWozniak palomar.edu)
Subject: This week’s theme

Shouldn’t this week’s theme have been “Trumpian descriptors derived from metals”, or are you expecting your readers to make that inferential mental leap in yet another week replete with now-normalized (p)residential projection, misdirection, and dereliction of duty?

Steve Wozniak, Encinitas, California

From: Nancy R Wilson (wilsonna sonic.net)
Subject: metals

I read this week’s words and heard Meredith Willson’s ladies of River City singing about Marian the Librarian in the Music Man:

That woman made brazen overtures with a gilt-edged guarantee
She had a golden glint in her eye
And a silver voice with a counterfeit ring
Just melt her down and you’ll reveal a lump of lead as cold as steel
Here, where a woman’s heart should be ...

A nice incorporation of a variety of metals!

Nancy R Wilson, Petaluma, California

Strange Bedfellows
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: auricomous & lead balloon

Our word “auricomous” brought to mind the tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and the golden-tressed Trump, imagined in the guise of the mischief-making gamin. Trump, as “Goldie”, is cozying up to three of his most loyal sycophants, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Barr, and Senate Majority Leader (for now) Mitch McConnell, assuming the roles of the three bears. Trump’s retort, “Let them eat porridge!”, echoes Marie Antoinette’s infamous pronouncement “Let them eat cake!” Goldie/Trump’s utterance is more in tune with the fairy-tale narrative.

Belly Up!
Four years of Trump were an unmitigated failure. Here, I’ve visualized his seemingly interminable term in office as a lead balloon, destined for its inevitable crash landing, with the Embarrassment-in-Chief hanging on for dear life. Essentially, what Trump is doing in his waning days in office... a flailing “lame duck” in total denial, still claiming that he was robbed of victory, without offering any evidence.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
Words derived from metals:
1. brazen
2. auricomous
3. philargyry
4. tinpot
5. lead balloon
1. bold, metal
2. pale
3. avarice (our 1st world problem)
4. inferior, shoddy
5. unamazing story
     This week’s theme: Words derived from metals
1. brazen
2. auricomous
3. philargyry
4. tinpot
5. lead balloon
= It’s well known:
1. brash
2. orange-haired
3. avaricious
4. meddlesome petty idolater
5. fleshy bozo Mr Trump!
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)


A brazen young girl named Gertrude
Liked posing -- it’s true -- in the nude;
With the money she made
She set up her trade,
And she had not an idea it was lewd.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Her pointed breasts are brazen --
think ripe grape, instead of raisin.
Of a brassiere she’s free.
Oy vey! Goodness me!
Rolls in the hay she’s cravin’!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

Says she, “Though I know he’s no prude,
this negligee might appear lewd --
a little too brazen
for maiden liaison.
I don’t want to frighten the dude!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Her parents both danced to the tune
Of their brazen young daughter named June.
She got all that she wanted
But at last they were daunted
When one evening she asked for the moon.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

The men in the saloon were all lazin’
‘Til the cowboy rode in with guns blazin’.
Said, “no time to delay,
Bad guys comin’ this way.”
His curt manner was forceful and brazen.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

The president’s lies are quite brazen;
The chutzpah involved is amazin’!
Though Biden’s elected
And Trump was rejected,
Still millions of dollars Trump’s raisin’!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

His behavior’s increasingly brazen,
as if he’s convinced that he stays in.
I wish he’d leave faster.
His term a disaster
Will history’s pages emblazon.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“Someday I’ll dry up like a raisin,”
Said Gypsy Rose Lee, “So I’m brazen.
No job at a desk
Can compare to burlesque,
Making hay givin’ men what they’re cravin’.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Said Dick Cheney, “Saddam is too brazen;
It’s time we go in with guns blazin’.
They’ll be shocked, they’ll be awed,
But then cheer and applaud,
Because who doesn’t love our hell raisin’?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When she was a very young girl,
Her auricomous hair would swirl.
Praising her aloud,
Her mother was proud.
Now grey is the tint of her curl.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

He loved her auricomous locks.
(That golden-haired look really rocks!)
With Covid this year,
Her new shade is here --
She’s more of a silver gray fox.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I wonder how many of you
Will three limerick lines just eschew
Three rhymes for “auricomous”
Is kinda ridiculous;
I’ll just utilize it in two!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“There’s a girl in my bed who’s auricomous,”
Cried Baby Bear, “This is iniquitous!”
Papa answered, “Hush, dear;
By her cute little rear
She shall leave with my foot as the impetus.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Though I know how you’re into auricomous,”
Said Melania, “Donald, I’m sick of this.
For God’s made a ruling
That covers your drooling:
Ivanka’s proscribed by Leviticus.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

If I, like King Midas
could turn what I touch into gold,
I’d make no apology
for my philargyry --
simply persist, uncontrolled!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Long hours spent drilling through basalt,
At last brought them inside the bank vault.
Seeing mounds of cash they drooled,
Soon philargyry ruled:
They kept stuffing their bags till guards cried halt.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Truth: my name is a rhyme for philargyry.
I’m called Bindy, but I was named Margery!
Still, there is nothing worse than
A greedy old person,
So I won’t let the meaning take charge o’me.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Old King Midas, we all agree,
Was plagued by great philargyry.
His famed Golden Touch
Was a curse, pretty much.
It led to real catastrophe.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Though Donald is acting all martyry,
It’s a con for his blatant philargyry.
He shouts, “I’m still fightin’;
Your wallets please lighten!”
His loss was like winning the lottery.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The tinpot commander we’ve got
Is golfing and tweeting a lot.
No work is he doing,
For he’s busy suing --
Transitioning smoothly we’re not.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“In Starfleet,” said Kirk, “I’m a big shot;
Other captains are more or less tinpot.
So weekly it’s me
Whom they put on TV,
Though in truth there’s often a thin plot.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Want to guess who’s our leading buffoon?
You’re right, he defines lead balloon.
What made him so heavy?
Not just his big belly;
The weight of his mouth’s silver spoon?
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

Said our leader, his manner jejune,
“This election I need to impugn.
I’ll just rearrange it!”
But efforts to change it
fell through like the dread lead balloon.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Giuliani is arguing bunk,
And the judges are sick of this junk.
The cases he’s filed
Are simply so wild,
Like a big lead balloon they have sunk.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

From consequences he seemed immune.
Though he has been a cinch to lampoon,
what relief to be rid
of that overgrown kid,
whose reign was one big lead balloon.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Well, you had your one-term honeymoon --
And for some, I’ll admit, were a boon.
But democracy warrants
Your blatant abhorrence
And you’ve sunk like an old lead balloon!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Crazed Rudy does act the buffoon,
As the Trump lead lawyer and goon.
With his oozing hair dye,
Losing lawsuits. Oh, my!
Just goes down like a lead balloon.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When they met in a western saloon,
Lil’s new boyfriend shot Rocky Raccoon.
He fell back in his room
Thinking, “Shoulda done Zoom,
For in-person’s a real lead balloon.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Do you prefer quickly cookin’ in fat, or brazen?
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

When her husband’s attempt at bow hunting came to naught, Queen Elizabeth said, “Philargyry’s not for you.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When I introduced my new girlfriend to my baby brother he told me not to date her, saying “I tinpot a phony a mile away.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com

I love smoking a pipe, but because of the risk of cancer, I stopped using tobacco and put tinpot.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Trump's Dishonor Roll
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump’s Dishonor Roll

‘Tis the season! Yet for Trump, that sentiment translates into handing out pardons* to a passel of apologists, lackeys, and family. Here, a not-so-jolly old St. Trump is making his “pardon” shortlist, which includes himself. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any more bizarro in Trump’s alternate universe... well, think again. Ho! Ho! Ho!
*Trump is pushing the envelope with his “preemptive pardons”. These pardons would apply to potential future crimes.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Whenever books are burned men also in the end are burned. -Heinrich Heine, poet, journalist, and essayist (13 Dec 1797-1856)

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