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May 23, 2021
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
Hoyle
Houdini
tawdry
McDonaldization
pooh-bah

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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High-scoring words in Scrabble

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AWADmail Issue 986

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

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

Why English-Speakers Should Not Give Up on Foreign Languages
The Economist
Permalink

Why We Speak More Weirdly at Home
The Atlantic
Permalink



From: Allie Taylor (alliefltaylor yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Today’s homily on Hoyle

I’m not sure that I can agree with you on not having a favourite word; mine is serendipity. First of all, for its meaning but also as it’s such a lovely word. And for its historical usage. But I am in full agreement with you on the human equivalent of not judging a book by its cover.

I was at a concert with a friend of a friend. I hadn’t found her interesting up to this point and it must have showed (I was young and like most young I hadn’t learned much). She told me some now forgotten detail of her life when she said quite matter of factly: ‘I was a trick cyclist in a Russian circus but that was after I had left the Royal Ballet.’ Then the curtain came up! I wanted to shout out: no, wait! I have to hear the end of this! But it taught me an excellent lesson. Even if none of it were true, she had put me well and truly in my place.

Allie Taylor, Vancouver, Canada



Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! -- the family that plays together stays together.

From: Eric Ahrendt (eric grayscaleimages.com)
Subject: “According to Hoyle” in Pulp Fiction

In the great final diner scene (30 sec.) in Pulp Fiction, hitmen Jules and Vincent are discussing whether or not it was a miracle that the target of one of their hits fired several shots at them from close range and missed with everyone. Jules claims it was “a miracle”; Vincent counters that it was a “freak occurrence”. Jules replies, “Whether or not what we witnessed was an ‘according to Hoyle miracle’ is insignificant. What is significant is I felt the touch of God.”

Eric Ahrendt, Orinda, California



From: Douglas Heidenreich (douglas.heidenreich mitchellhamline.edu)
Subject: Hoyle

Phil Harris, whose band played on the Jack Benny radio show, recorded a comedy song about a hapless poker player who was being cheated by his fellow players at the local Poker Club. Reaching the end of his patience, he threatened his colleagues, berating them for various cheating conduct. After announcing his new rules for the game (e.g., “Keep your hands upon the table while you’re dealin’ please”), he says something like, “We ain’t gonna keep playin’ this game accordin’ to that Mister Hoyle (pronouncing it Hoy-lee). We gonna play this game accordin’ to me.”

Douglas Heidenreich, St. Paul, Minnesota



From: Richard Aronson (aronson sti.net)
Subject: Hoyle

When I was working at the late-lamented Sierra Network (lots of online games including many card games), they called me Mr. Hoyle because of my inherited collection of Hoyle books from decades earlier, and I had played pretty much every game in them. I also was the designer and lead programmer on Hoyle Classic Bridge. I think one of the best ways to spend educational time with a child is to pick out age-appropriate new games from Hoyle and spend an evening playing with them. The 1990s had many of the happiest years of my life.

Richard Aronson, Oakhurst, California



From: Hugh Eckert (hugh_eckert yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Houdini

Made me think of lines from one of my favorite Tom Waits songs “The One That Got Away”:

He’s got a snakeskin sportshirt and he looks like Vincent Price
with a little piece of chicken and he’s carving off a slice
but someone tipped her off, she’ll be doing a Houdini now any day
she shook his hustle, the Greyhound bus’ll take the one that got away
(video, 4 min.)

Hugh Eckert, Arlington, Virginia



From: Robert Berend (tactile8888 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Houdini

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A book of verses underneath the bough, / A jug of wine, a loaf of bread -- and thou / Beside me singing in the wilderness -- / Oh, wilderness were paradise enow! -Omar Khayyam, poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, and physician (18 May 1048-1131)

Thank you for reminding me of the 1963-1964 season of Rocky and Bullwinkle, with the story of The Ruby Yacht (of Omar Khayyam).

This was, perhaps, the story where Bullwinkle says to someone modeled after Aristotle Onassis: “For a giant shipping MAGNET, you sure don’t pick up much.”

Robert Berend, Beverly Hills, California



From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: 18 May thought for the day

Ahh... so many thoughts you could have mined from Omar Khayyam.

“The moving finger writes, and having writ /Moves on ...”
“Alas that spring should vanish with the rose ...”
“Into this universe and why, not knowing ...”
“’Tis all a chequerboard of nights and days / Where Destiny with men for pieces plays ...”
“And some we loved, the loveliest and the best ...”
“They say the lion and the lizard keep / The Halls where Jamshyd gloried and
drank deep ...”

There’s (almost) no end to them. I wonder, which will you select when it comes to Edward Fitzgerald’s birthday?

Dr Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India



From: Stuart Klipper (sklipper bitstream.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tawdry

Mar-a-Lago; f’instance?

Stuart Klipper, Minneapolis, Minnesota



From: Laura Burns (laurab12 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Your thought for today

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Red roses for young lovers. French beans for longstanding relationships. -Ruskin Bond, author (b. 19 May 1934)

Reminded me of the W.S. Gilbert lyric from Patience:

Then a sentimental passion
Of a vegetable fashion
Must excite your languid spleen
An attachment a la Plato
For a bashful young potato
Or a not-too-French French bean!

Laura Burns, Galveston, Texas



From: Stephe Ellis (stephe lineone.net)
Subject: McDonaldization

It should give pause for thought that this word can stand both for the crushing of individuality and for the spreading influence of a nation that prides itself on being the natural home of individuality.

Stephe Ellis, York, UK



From: Susan CM Lumiere (shamiram44 gmail.com)
Subject: McDonaldization

In 1961 some new college buddies invited me to walk over to the local McDUNGald’s. I was flabbergasted to learn that they craved the grayish, flat, tasteless patty with the bland, white, gummy bun. I vowed never to patronize another such establishment again and never have in 60 years, except to buy greasy fries for a handicapped 90-year-old friend. My car stank for three days after transporting the yucky excuses for potatoes, so rancid was the cooking oil. Bottom line: Friends don’t let friends eat at Mc Donald’s. For an eye-opening look at how toxic the artificial food is, watch Morgan Spurlock’s Supersize Me.

Susan Cm Lumiere, Panorama City, California



From: Doug Finner (stonehusky gmail.com)
Subject: McDonaldization

McDonald’s spawned an entire genre of “things gone bland” noted by adding the prefix Mc to a thing. McMansions are bland yet overblown imitations of actual mansions.

Kate Wagner has an entire site, McMansion Hell, devoted to the critical analysis of these monstrosities.

Doug Finner, Alexandria, New Hampshire



From: Deborah Dinzes (deborah.dinzes becu.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--McDonaldization

See also McMansion in Turkey: Burj Al Babas luxury housing development.

Deborah Dinzes, Kirkland, Washington



From: Judy Newman (judynewman gmail.com)
Subject: McDonalds

When we traveled and lived in Europe with two young boys in the 1970s they liked to stop at McDonald’s. We always noticed that almost all of the other patrons were Europeans. It was not a place the average American frequented. Similarly, we found that no Americans were at the Holiday Inns. The boys had a good time speaking German with children at the swimming pool.

Judy Newman, Montgomery County, Maryland



From: Dixon Kenner (thegreenbishop gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--McDonaldization

Do not forget The Economist magazine Big Mac Index, where this standardisation is so well done that the price of a Big Mac can be used to look at purchasing power parities around the world and quickly see if a currency might be over, or under, valued.

Dixon Kenner, Ottawa, Canada



From: Anita Bigelow (abigelowpdx gmail.com)
Subject: As well as McDonaldization

There’s CocaColonization, Disneyfication’s more aggressive sister, but not an eponym (unless perhaps Imogene Coca has a side we have not heard of).

Anita Bigelow, Portland, Oregon



From: Terry Curley (terry.curley shaw.ca)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--McDonaldization

My two sons invented (at least in my mind) the term Starbuckification in the early 2000s to note that American culture, in the guise of Starbucks, had penetrated to London and other cities in the UK.

Terry Curley, Invermere, Canada



From: Paul Basile (basilepaulm gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pooh-bah

Boomers will no doubt recall the Grand Pooh-Bah as the leader of the Loyal Order of Water Buffalos, an exclusive, guys-only fraternal lodge that Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble belonged to. (video, 1 min.)

Paul Basile, Skokie, Illinois



From: Janet De Prosse (fuzzywhiterabbit yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pooh-bah

It occurs to me that Mr. T was never our President -- he was nothing more than a grand pooh-bah.

Jan de Prosse, Grass Valley, California



From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: pooh-bah

Of the many songs in Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous work, The Mikado, the one that stands out for its satirical ribbing of all the pretentious characters in the world is Pooh-Bah’s “little list” (video, 5 min.). The list is usually updated in each performance to suit contemporary issues and local circumstances.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada



From: Amy Lenig (amy.lenig verizon.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pooh-bah

We used to tease my dad and say he was the Grand Pooh-Bah. I had no idea of the origin though. We also called him Buddha and rubbed his belly. In hindsight, we really abused the poor man. Ah well.

Amy Lenig, Colorado Springs, Colorado



From: Amy Metnick (amy.metnick gmail.com)
Subject: Pooh-bah coincidence

Your final eponym for this week coincides with the New York Time’s Friday, May 21, daily crossword puzzle.

Clue: Muckety-muck
Answer: Pooh-bah

Great minds think alike!

Amy Metnick, Margaretville, New York



From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Eponyms

In our family, the word to be “Benko’d” has been coined by my soon-to-be son-in-law to mean playing a joke on someone by taking their words literally. For example:
“Do you want to get the punch bowl down from that high shelf for me?”
“Not particularly.”

Steve Benko, New York, New York



From: Barbara Sale (sale.barbar gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Hoyle

I love eponyms too, and think we need to coin a new one: to garg, meaning to delve into the etymology of a word.

Barbara Sale, Baltimore, Maryland



Houdini and Scientific American
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Houdini and pooh-bah

Noting the illuminating fact of escape artist/showman Harry Houdini’s contributions to Scientific American, here he proudly points out that he’s the cover story in this particular issue. Back in the day, everyone was just wild about Harry.

Not-So-Grand Poo-Bah
A certain former president, a Not-So-Grand Poo-bah, if you will, who claimed he knew far more about military strategies and tactics than his own generals, came to mind as a prime exemplar of the pompous control freak who dominated the stage in Gilbert & Sullivan’s play, The Mikado. Here, the self-ascribed “stable genius”, flourishes his Big Lie. Bravado over brains!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



Pangraph

The grand Pooh-Bah (emphasis on the Pooh), who never played according to Hoyle and presided over a tawdry McDonaldization of the White House (in the literal sense), has somehow managed to Houdini his way out of every attempt to Alcatraz him, as he so richly deserves.
-Ray Wiss, Vancouver, Canada (portray vianet.ca)



   
Antigram (anagram that’s opposite of the original)
This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. Hoyle
2. Houdini
3. tawdry
4. McDonaldization
5. pooh-bah
= 1. rule, the ploy book
2. escape whiz
3. shoddy
4. intimidation method, eh?
5. any showman
     This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. Hoyle
2. Houdini
3. tawdry
4. McDonaldization
5. pooh-bah
= 1. Edmond
2. Ehri Weiss
3. both cheap, not plush in any way
4. methodize
5. holy to Mikado
     This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. Hoyle
2. Houdini
3. tawdry
4. McDonaldization
5. pooh-bah
= 1. ways to cheat
2. tie/hold down
3. hip
4. my personalization
5. hind, huh, somebody meek
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Limericks

The unsportsmanlike make me recoil;
Downright cheaters will make my blood boil.
When they fail to comply,
“That’s not cricket!” I cry.
“You’re not playing according to Hoyle.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The witches agree, ev’ry one.
“Inadequacy we must shun!
According to Hoyle,
how long should we boil
our brew till it’s thoroughly done?”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Opponents she’d frequently foil
By saying “According to Hoyle.”
That stickler for rules
Would play us for fools
And game nights with quibbles she’d spoil.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I’ve written my rules in a Hoyle;
With affection your kid you won’t spoil.
Pick them up when they cry,”
Dr. Spock said, “And try
Not to spank ‘em, for that makes me boil!”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“You’re burning my coal and my oil,
Not living according to Hoyle,”
Warned Gaia. “You fools!
Keep ignoring my rules,
And I’ll turn up the climate to ‘broil’.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Every effort to capture him failed.
He quite flatly refused to be jailed.
They thought him a genie,
The way he’d Houdini
Just moments before he was nailed.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“A day at the seaside? No way!
My body,” says she with dismay,
“would surely houdini
from last year’s bikini,
create an indecent display!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

While they dined on some fine fettuccini,
His young girlfriend played Henry Mancini.
But he fin’ly said, “Whoa,
This guy’s music must go,
Or I’ll pull a fast Harry Houdini.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

My hamster’s escaped once again!
He’s now running loose in my den.
Like Harry Houdini,
Just hairy and teeny,
That pet I can’t keep in his pen.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Aladdin, I’m out like Houdini!
Thanks for rubbing my lamp,” said the genie.
“Now I’ll grant your three wishes:
Machines that do dishes,
A princess, and super-sized weenie.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In all matters of taste, she stood out.
She was lacking, be left in no doubt.
Tawdry outfits, bought cheap --
Like her Little Bo Peep,
Which she wore with much rouge and a pout.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

There once was that cowboy, Gene Autry,
Who thought that Roy Rogers was tawdry.
His stallion was bigger
Than that showy Trigger.
His singing appealed much more broadly.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Having read the particulars twice,
I conclude, if I may be precise,
that the lace of St. Audrey
was not really tawdry.
The only thing cheap was its price.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

I wonder, did Hillary care
That Bill had a tawdry affair?
She seemed to prefer
That he not bother her.
Then the whole world became aware.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

His soon-to-be ex-wife now shares
The news of his tawdry affairs.
And the fact that Bill Gates
Asks employees on dates
His good reputation impairs.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“A cowboy who sings? Why, that’s tawdry,”
John Wayne said one day to Gene Autry.
“Continue to croon
And we’ll meet at high noon,”
Gary Cooper joined in, “as you’re off key.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In Hamburg, a great celebration.
Their eponymous dish a sensation.
The world has gone batty
About their meat patty,
The cause of McDonaldization.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Wherever I travel, I head
where habitual meals I’ll be fed.
McDonaldization:
a worldwide sensation!
The best thing to spread since sliced bread!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

One mall’s like another to me!
I think one can easily see
McDonaldization
All over our nation --
I can’t say this fills me with glee.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There’s no doubt, as a modern-day nation,
We’re the product of robotization.
No more accented vocals
Shared only by locals,
But language McDonaldization!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

America has a fixation,
Obsessed with McDonaldization.
When we gain in success,
Creativity’s less.
The trade-off can cause consternation.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the rebels, “We hate this taxation,
For we’re lacking in representation.
We’ll throw tea in the bay,
Break away, and one day
Rule the world through McDonaldization!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


So here’s all I have to say,
“No stress at the end of each day!”
What’s all the hoohah
About the ‘grand pooh-bah’,
Now that he’s been voted away?
-Fran Head, South Salem, New York (franhead41 gmail.com)

The grand pooh-bah of all she surveys
Is my wife. Her hauteur she conveys
With a steely-eyed glare.
Disobey? I don’t dare.
She can punish, in myriad ways.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

That pompous old pooh-bah proclaimed,
“For all my success I am famed.”
With ego excessive
He says, “I’m impressive!”
This you-know-who need not be named.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Who runs the household every day?
She cooks and puts all toys away.
A never paid pooh-bah,
I’ll now tell you who: Ma!
Please give that great gal a bouquet.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Uncle Junior,” said Tony Soprano,
“I’ll tell you this mano a mano.
Though you’ve been a great goombah,
Anoint me as pooh-bah
Or find on your head a piano.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Puns

“I didn’t follow all the rules when I drilled this well, but I still struck Hoyle!”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

The inebriated bridge players sang, “Hoyle, Hoyle, the gang’s all here!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“I could hoyle a discus from here to Thoity-Thoid Street no problem,” said the Olympian from New York.
-Steve Benko, New Yawk, New Yawk (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A voter Houdini-meeny-miny-mo their way through the ballot is no real asset to our democracy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Where’s the butter? The potatoes are tawdry.
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

“I tawt I tawdry puddy tats,” said Tweety Pie. “I did, I did, I did see thwee puddy tats!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Stop the McDonaldization of agriculture!” shouted the animals with a quack-quack here and a moo-moo there.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When the dog made a pooh-bah the front door, it was disciplined.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Said Ebenezer Scrooge, “A double dose of Ex-Lax and I still can’t pooh - bah!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When asked how he enjoyed reading stories about Winnie, the critic panned, “Pooh-bah humbug!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)



Flip-Flopper Stefanik
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Flip-Flopper Stefanik and Mirror Image McCarthy

House member Elise Stefanik, at one time an ally of now-former 3rd-ranked House Republican, Liz Cheney, voting her into that rarified post on two occasions, has totally flip-flopped. She came onboard with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent orchestration of Cheney’s exit and was delighted to replace her. Stefanik is now No.3 in the GOP House hierarchy.

Mirror Image
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy may not have sold his soul to the devil... yet, but he’s all-in with Trump, perpetuating the Big Lie, while spearheading the recent ouster of truth-teller Liz Cheney, the then-3rd-ranked GOP-er in the House. Can we say Trump sycophant, boys and girls?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A house is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. -Margaret Fuller, author, critic, and women’s rights advocate (23 May 1810-1850)

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