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Jul 18, 2021
This week’s theme
Words coined after buildings and venues

This week’s words
Grand Guignol
chamber of horrors
Hawthorne effect

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Words that aren’t what they seem

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AWADmail Issue 994

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

What Matters in a Name Sign?
The New York Times

Broken Language
The Marshall Project

From: David Rubenstein (bulkmail thoughtful-action.com)
Subject: Carnegie Hall

After having lived in New York City for five years, I returned several years later for a visit. I was to meet a friend at a restaurant directly across from Carnegie Hall. I rushed into the subway without knowing what stop to exit; my Blackberry could not download the directions while underground. I had waited my entire life to ask this question sincerely: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” In response, I received only a dumbfounded stare.

David Rubenstein, Washington, DC

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by The Official Old School Education -- Just Do Wit

From: Alan Kranich (ank1 verizon.net)
Subject: The Carnegie Hall joke

There’s a lesser-known second part:

How do I get to the Catskills?
Don’t practice!

The Catskill Mountains, in upstate New York, also known as the Borscht Belt, or the Jewish Alps, were home to a string of resorts where NYC musicians could get summer jobs if they couldn’t find work in the city.

Alan Kranich, Sarasota, Florida

From: Pascal Pagnoux (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)
Subject: Carnegie

At a time when Americans are reevaluating their historical figures and reconsidering having their names or statues exhibited to the public as role models, Andrew Carnegie definitely comes to mind as one of those bastards (aka robber barons) who accumulated immense wealth -- with which he built the Carnegie Hall among other things -- at the expense of poor workers that he had locked out and even shot at by the ruthless Pinkertons in his Homestead steel mill.

Worse, Carnegie was also a bloody hypocrite for whining afterwards all over the media that he was so sorry about the whole affair -- only because it stained his reputation as a “labor champion” -- while secretly encouraging the showdown to its bitter end as made quite clear by his letters to Frick (which ironically means money in French slang :o) while laying low incommunicado in Scotland for everyone else including the press.

See “The Strike at Homestead Mill -- American Experience -- PBS

Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France

From: Pat Hall (via website comments)
Subject: Carnegie

My married last name is Hall. When I was pregnant with my son I told everyone we were going to name him Carnegie. Then, I told them we were going to name him Pool and call him Snooker for short. I did seriously consider Dark for a first name when I saw it on some movie credits rolling at the end of a movie. We wound up naming him Phillip Scott. He has always gone by Scott.

Pat Hall

From: Arjun Visakh (arjunvisakh301 gmail.com)
Subject: pettifogging Tammany-hall hucksters

Just wanted to share a gem of a movie quotation from a gem of a movie (Lincoln, 2012).

Frustrated with his cabinet, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis) pounds his hand on his table and thunders “I can’t listen to this anymore. I can’t accomplish a goddamn thing of any human meaning or worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war, and whether any of you or anyone else knows it, I know I need this! This amendment is that cure! We’re stepped out upon the world stage now, now, with the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood’s been spilled to afford us this moment! Now! Now! Now! And you grouse so and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!” (Source)

Arjun Visakh, Palakkad, India

From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: Literature

Literature encourages tolerance -- bigots and fanatics seldom have any use for the arts, because they’re so preoccupied with their beliefs and actions that they can’t see them also as possibilities.
-Northrop Frye, writer and critic (14 Jul 1912-1991)


What the critic as a teacher of language tries to teach is not an elegant accomplishment, but the means of conscious life. Literary education should lead not merely to the admiration of great literature, but to some possession of its power of utterance. The ultimate aim is an ethical and participating aim, not an aesthetic or contemplative one, even though the latter may be the means of achieving the former.”
-Northrop Frye (The Well-Tempered Critic)

Years ago I read something by Northrup Frye that has stuck with me over the years. He says that our sensibility, the way we evaluate and interpret the world in all its manifold forms, how we evaluate, sifting through experience to find beauty and meaning, is the sum total of our imaginative experiences. Certainly literature, a person’s reading, has an effect on one’s imagination. I’m on unsteady ground here but could it be that what one thinks about an experience transcends the experience itself. For instance, one morning going to refill my coffee cup, I walked into a lounge just in time to hear a woman who’d returned recently from a trip to the American West waxing exuberantly about the delights of Las Vegas (she was impressed a casino gave her free drinks); then she added, “But don’t waste your time on the Grand Canyon. It’s nothing but a big hole in the ground.” (“A “damn” big hole in the ground,” is what she actually said.)

I submit that we can gauge this woman’s sensibility accurately from her evaluation of the Grand Canyon. Am I a supercilious snob for feeling both contempt and pity for her? Could one say, it’s not the Grand Canyon so much as the sensibility one brings to the Grand Canyon, and, furthermore, where did this sensibility one brings with one come from? Certainly, one is not born with it. Could one posit that our imaginations are something we have an active part in creating? In his poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” Wordsworth says that the sights and sounds “half create” the beauty and mystery and power of his reaction. His own “creative sensibility” creates the other half. Is it logical to assume that one way we can develop our creative sensibility is to read writers such as Wordsworth? As idle and foolish as it may sound, perhaps we should train our sensibility as vigorously and intelligently as a great athlete hones his body.

The imagination is not bound to place; it is internal and infinite. Probably the best example of an imagination shattering the restraints of time and place is Emily Dickinson. She rarely left her home, and yet she could see wonders from her bedroom window, sublime sights missed by those who have perambulated the earth itself, perspired at the equator and shivered in the Arctic. It’s true, no doubt, Dickinson was born a genius, but in some ways she created herself and one of the ways she did so was by reading. The below poem shows the power reading can have on an aspiring imagination, the nutriments it provides. Could it be that Dickinson is one of those who spent her life endeavoring to whet her creative imagination, consciously training her sensibility. Here’s what she said about reading:

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry --
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll --
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul --

All of us who read can brook no argument against Miss Emily. Her keen imagination, looking through her eye, not with it, could see more beauty and revelation through a windowpane in her bedroom than most of us could see from atop the highest mountain where we could see for miles and miles.

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina

From: Sara Hutchinson (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)
Subject: bastille

From yesterday’s The Writer’s Almanac I learned that the bastille, when stormed, yielded only seven prisoners. The mob was really after the gunpowder stored inside. When Louis XV! came home from hunting that evening and was told about the day’s events, he asked his servant “Is this a revolt?” and the servant answered, “No sir, this is a revolution.”

Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware

From: Matthew B. Weinger (matt.weinger vanderbilt.edu)
Subject: Hawthorne effect

The existence, magnitude, and mechanism of the Hawthorne effect remain controversial and, to the extent that it exists, appear to be highly context sensitive. See Systematic review of the Hawthorne effect.

Matthew Weinger, Nashville, Tennessee

From: Tobias Baskin (baskin bio.umass.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Hawthorne effect

Thanks for introducing me to the Hawthorne effect, great word, important concept. But I have a scarlet letter for you. The term might be a cousin of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, but only an illegitimate one. Heisenberg uncertainty refers to the quantum structure of the universe and, as such, by definition, has no application to our common or garden universe. People do try to use words from quantum mechanics to explain human behavior, but doing so is like adding interferon to shampoo. Let’s resist the hype.

Tobias Baskin, Amherst, Massachusetts

From: Hope Bucher (hopebucher gmail.com)
Subject: Building Metaphor

I grew up in the Hamptons in the 1950s, a quiet place to live until the summer tourists arrived. When an experience became loud and confusing, we would describe it as “like Grand Central Station”. Everyone understood the metaphor.

Hope Bucher, Naperville, Illinois

From: Glenn Glazer (glenn.glazer gmail.com)
Subject: Paddington

When I was in Britain, I noticed a speech pattern that Americans generally don’t do. We were in a train station and I commented about our train not arriving on time and someone sitting near us said, “Oh, Paddington is always late,” personifying the station, the trains, and all of the people in it into a single entity for which she later used the pronoun “she”. Americans are much more likely to say something like “The trains always arrive at Paddington late,” or put the blame on the operator, “Great Western trains are always late coming into this station.”

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California

From: Dipti Joshi (dipti_joshi2001 yahoo.com.au)
Subject: Building name & Metaphor

Big Ben
He is right on the time, Mr Big Ben.

Tower of Pisa
What a thrilling final it was, England versus Italy. In the penalty shoot the score was leaning tower of Pisa towards Italy!

Dipti Joshi, Brisbane, Australia

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: A building used metaphorically

The Taj Mahal immediately comes to mind, of course, used to mock someone’s ostentatious monument to themselves or to negotiate with building contractors, as in “He built himself the Taj Mahal” or “We don’t need the Taj Mahal.”

Steve Benko, New York, New York

House of Horrors?
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Grand Guignol/chamber of horrors and Carnegie/Tchaikovsky

Two of this week’s terms, namely “Grand Guignol” and “chamber of horrors”, prompted my surrealistic tableau, featuring notorious French libertine the Marquis de Sade’s polymorphously perverse imaginings, where the fine line between pain and carnal bliss was often blurred. In today’s parlance, de Sade might have opined “No pain, no gain!” Another of this week’s words is “Bastille”, where curiously, he spent many years incarcerated for his “perverse” views and sado-masochistic-themed literary works. He wrote many of them in prison.

Tchaikovsky Interruptus
Inspired by Anu Garg’s intro to this week’s word-theme, I’ve captured Scottish-American steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, interrupting Tchaikovsky’s Carnegie Hall performance. Clearly, master Pyotr isn’t taking musical requests, even from the uber-wealthy, powerful Andrew Carnegie.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


1. tammany
2. Grand Guignol
3. chamber of horrors
4. bastille
5. Hawthorne effect
= 1. mobster management
1. French words (hah!)
3. ghoul gallery
4. fort
5. fabrication
     This week’s theme: Words coined after buildings and venues
1. tammany
2. Grand Guignol
3. chamber of horrors
4. bastille
5. Hawthorne effect
= Lofts got this:
1. New York hall, chief’s name
2. theatre in France
3. Buchenwald, Mme Tussaud’s
4. fort
5. error when being observed aiding dogma
     This week’s theme: Words coined after buildings and venues
1. tammany
2. Grand Guignol
3. chamber of horrors
4. bastille
5. Hawthorne effect
= 1. government share acts of wrongdoing
2. macabre theatre
3. in Madame Tussaud’s, London
4. bridewell
5. fishy bluff heightens worker ethic
-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.


In elections, a word to the wise.
Should the spirit of Tammany rise,
Get in first with the schmear --
Gain the candidate’s ear.
This ensures you’re well placed to advise.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“As your principal, I’ve no objections
to annual student elections,”
says he. “But I’ll ban any
semblance of Tammany
conduct. You’ll heed my directions!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said the walrus one day to the manatee,
“What’s with humans and all their insanity?
They’ve got language and thumbs,
Yet for leaders choose bums;
Why on Earth do they like them so Tammany?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“It’s my turn,” she argues, “to pick
our movie. I want a chick flick.
That last Grand Guignol
took too great a toll
on my psyche. It made me quite sick!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

‘Twas a night of the Halloween ball,
When the crowd gathered in the large hall.
It was quite the event,
Leaving everyone spent.
Oh, it was a macabre Grand Guignol.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“Hemingway writes a real Grand Guignol,”
Sighed the bull, “yet we’re only B-Roll.
Though we’re run off our feet
Down some Pamplona street,
In this novel we play no key role.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A Chamber of horrors, my friend,
Is where we are bound in the end.
A message I’ve sent:
I’ll try to repent,
If God His strict rules He would bend.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

A chamber of horrors is Trump’s mind,
denying the rights of humankind
to vote to unseat him,
denying their freedom
by stacking the Supremes, as we find!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

Says mom, “One more venue’s taboo!
Young sonny considers the zoo
a chamber of horrors.
Those growlers and roarers
alarm him, and tantrums ensue.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A chamber of horrors I saw
With rioters breaking the law.
No “love in the air”
That I was aware --
This claim has me dropping my jaw.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

She thought he was the perfect boarder,
Then she learned that he was a hoarder.
The room of this storer’s
A chamber of horrors.
To evict him, she got a court order.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

For those with Republican ardors,
Vermont is a chamber of horrors.
They love the vaccine,
Elect Bernie, go green,
Vote pro-choice -- and that’s only for starters.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I’m still grounded -- twelve weeks! -- by my dad.
Is this justice? I wasn’t that bad!
Held in bedroom bastille,
Without right of appeal,
And a cockroach my only comrade.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“I don’t like the height of its heel.
And its narrowness makes my foot feel,”
shoe shopper complained,
“as though it’s restrained
by the walls of a beastly bastille.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

If sent to a dreadful bastille,
I wonder just how I would deal.
I would not do well
Confined to a cell;
In orange I look awful, I feel.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Our high rise is normally great!
All seniors! (My age? 88!)
But with Covid, the feel
Was much like a bastille,
And we’d pound our invisible gate!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Her stressed mama’s wrath was quite real.
‘Cause Collette had much to conceal.
“For coming home late,
From your last night date,
Your own bedroom is the Bastille!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Shouted Oog, “For all people is wheel!”
And was shown to the cavemen’s bastille.
Said McConnell’s ancestor,
“We no let him pester
The rich with big radical spiel.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“He’s a model of industry, Jules!”
“That’s because he believes we’re both fools.
It’s the Hawthorne effect.
If my theory’s correct,
Then the moment we’re gone, he’ll down tools.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“They behave while at play in the den,
‘cause I peek through the door now and then,”
mom explains. “I suspect
it’s the Hawthorne effect.
They know, but they never know when!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

If you folks pay attention to me,
How very productive I’ll be!
My work will reflect
The Hawthorne effect,
For that’s human nature, you see.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The reverse of the Hawthorne effect
May be also a thing, I suspect.
For when cameras are live,
We can see Donald strive
To behave even worse for his sect.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A Scottish lad bought a new Tammany wore it everywhere he went.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Jim Bakker, “Tammany to my groin was a bit extreme for cheating on you.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A group of prostitutes conducted their business in a chamber of horrors.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

I hate fishing, because the bastille the worms right off my hook.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

The dissident French sheep exhorted her followers, “Zey try to silence us, but we bastille!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Every time the donkey stepped on a sharp object it brayed, leading this phenomenon to be called the Hee-Hawthorne effect.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Thrown into the briar patch by the fox, the rabbit laughed “Hawthorne effect!” and quickly escaped.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Not-So-Golden State
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: The Not-So-Golden State

The past three years have been the hottest on record in California (and globally). As a 41-year Los Angeleno, I can’t argue with those alarming stats. I’ve felt “the burn”. Californians have endured a recent 6-year drought, and we’re currently into our second consecutive year of dangerously low precipitation. We’ve endured scores of horrendous wildfires and water rationing. Here, I’ve configured a swimming pool in the basic shape of California, including a hot tub representing the Baja peninsula. Excuse my M.C. Escher-esque perspective. I admit the pool area looks a tad askew. But it’s on the level, I swear. Ha!
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. -Nelson Mandela, activist, South African president, Nobel laureate (18 Jul 1918-2013)

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