Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I have written previously about people with whom I come in contact on a daily basis who are whiny and self-absorbed. I was delighted to see that THE URBAN DICTIONARY has a term for the diagnosis of those who are so afflicted:

People who have trouble talking about anyone but themselves for any length of time. The "enough about me, what do you think of me" syndrome.

EXAMPLE: I like hanging out with Andrea, but her MeDD (Me-D-D) is so annoying. She'll ask me a question, but then jumps in with something about herself.

Monday, April 29, 2013


My brother had a fire at his home recently. He had purchased and installed a pellet-burning stove. At 11:00 PM, he turned off the stove and went to bed. At approximately 1:00 AM, he was awakened by the sound of a smoke alarm.

When he got up, the house was full of smoke and he could see flames coming from the stove. He got dressed, went outside, and called the fire department. The firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly.

Fortunately, the only damage was around the stove and the smoke damage throughout the house.

I had never seen smoke damage in a property. When I went to visit, it was truly mind-boggling. One of his walls is mirrored and I could not see myself in the mirror. The cleaners who came to clean took all of his appliances out of the house to clean them.

When asked about the fire, he was quoted in the newspaper: "The best $10.00 I ever spent was on the smoke detectors!"

We have told everybody to buy First Alert photoelectric smoke detectors.

He said that he bought his at Big Lots! No, they didn't have any when I went there!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Before The Bionic Woman was on television, we called my mother "The Human Bloodhound" because she could detect smells which nobody else could, and the scents were usually of an unpleasant nature. After seeing Lindsay Wagner, Mother was then known as "The Bionic Nose".

Mother also had the world's best memory. Oftentimes, she would say that aromas or odors were reminiscent of ones from her childhood. After I read Remembrance Of Things Past, I told her that she was as good as Proust at remembering every detail! I would mutter, "Where's the madeleines, Mama?", whenever she would start going into excruciating detail!

I'm rather talented about recognizing perfumes and colognes people wear. In the 1970s, I was working with a man who usually wore nice colognes and after-shaves. Men's colognes were not as plentiful as today (Hai Karate, Brut, and English Leather, along with the old standards Old Spice, Aqua Velva, and Canoe were the most frequently worn). One day I said, "Carl, that smells like Aramis you're wearing." He said, "Boy, you're good; my wife just bought it for me." I told him that was what my husband wore most of the time. [My husband warned me NEVER to ask "What do you have on?" because I would be the recipient of an unwanted, risque response.]

As I had complimented Carl on several occasions, I didn't feel awkward when I said "Carl, I'm usually very good at recognizing fragrances, but you smell just like Chanel No. 5 today." He looked very sheepish and said, "I was out of any of mine, so I splashed on some of my wife's." I answered, "That's a very expensive substitute." He said, "Don't tell anybody." I said, "Since it's Chanel, it's entre vous et moi." He asked, "Huh?" I said, "Since Chanel is French, that means it's between you and me: entre vous et moi!" I was studying French--using tapes in my car--and I was forever foisting fractured French pronunciations on innocent victims!

A friend of mine says that she has such amazing olfactory prowess that she can distinguish her family members' flatulence.

Now, I'm not THAT good--or bad--depending on one's perspective!

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Les and I have been holding ourselves laughing about the ex-cop who burglarized his ex-wife's house and took her Victoria's Secret "lingerie" and the value was supposedly $300.00.

Les said, "With the cost of it, that was probably four pieces."

Recently, I told this story to an acquaintance and she said, "I've never heard THAT pronunciation before." I said, "Well, it IS a French word." At least she didn't pronounce it after me to let me know she thought I had mispronounced it!

Listen to the correct pronunciation:

lan--zhuh--ree (French)

lahn--zhuh--ray (American)

With the French pronunciation, the "rie" in lingerie definitely rhymes with "see".

Les says, "You have to French-i-fy everything." I can't help that I am a Francophile!


How to pronounce lingerie in French with audio, no lingerie is not 'lon/ju/ray' in French.

Friday, April 26, 2013


A peculiar malady has been afflicting my family, but we had no name for it until today. The symptoms: we have an unbridled desire to immediately view the movies we have received from Netflix and have them back to the post office before the day is done. We cannot bear to keep a movie overnight or wait to put it in our mailbox for the mail carrier to take the following day. There is no need for this precipitancy as there is no penalty for late returns; we could keep the movies for days, weeks, or months, but we are caught up by the overwhelming urgency.

We average watching 16 movies a month!

Bless the The URBAN DICTIONARY: just having a name for our ailment has caused a lessening of the anxiety associated with the affliction.

It's called NETAFLIXIA.

NETAFLIXIA: a self-diagnosed non-medical term to describe people who are addicted to the Netflix video streaming service or DVD movies.

Patient A was diagnosed by his friends to have a severe case of Netaflixia, in which he is unable to avoid use of the service, and may behave violently towards himself and/or others if the services continue to go unused for a long period of time. (normally one week)

Patient B was diagnosed by family members to have a severe case of Netaflixia, in which movies had to be viewed immediately and returned to the post office the same calendar day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I debated about watching Quentin Tarantino's movie Django Unchained because of the "gratuitous violence" (according to some critics), but when I heard that Spike Lee had condemned it, without seeing it, I felt morally obligated to see it, out of respect for logic. How dare Lee condemn the movie without actually having seen it? Lee's twisted logic: Tarantino, a Caucasian, shouldn't be directing a movie about slavery. How illogical is that? I think Spike had a bit of the green-eyed monster coloring his judgment. [Yes, my use of "green" and "colored" was deliberate and intentional!] If Lee cared so much about "his people", why hadn't he already directed a definitive movie about slavery? He seems to be able to acquire funding for other schlock he's directed. [an aside: Lee would definitely hate my using a Yiddish word to describe his product, after his well-documented anti-Semitic remarks.]

It's not the first time Lee's hypocrisy about Tarantino has been evident. Lee was also critical of Tarantino's Jackie Brown, because of the use of the "N" word. More twisted logic: it's OK for Lee to use the disgusting word, but Tarantino shouldn't, although it was an integral part of both Tarantino movies. Although I have not personally been on the streets of Harlem or lived during slavery, I feel fairly certain that the "N" word was used in both of those contexts!

It reminded me of the criticism of Spielberg's directing The Color Purple because he isn't black. I'm also reminded of the sheer silliness of extracting the "N" word from Huckleberry Finn. The only question to be asked: did/do people use certain words at the time and place? If it's accurate, then the "real" words SHOULD be used, whether it was from Twain, Tarantino, or Lee.

This week, I noticed on my Facebook page (in the yearly campaign to induct Richie Havens into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame), it was mentioned that Richie Havens' signature song Freedom was played in the background in a pivotal scene of the Django Unchained. (Listen from YouTube below.) As Richie is my all-time favorite rock and roll/folk performer I'll watch the movie in loyalty to him.

Richie's songs have been used in 34 movies and 17 television shows. Freedom, in particular, has been used as background music in 6 different movies or television shows.

After Freedom, my favorite songs of his used in movies and performed by Richie are: Morning, Morning played in The Pursuit Of Happyness and Follow played in Coming Home. Richie even has his music used in a video game and has also appeared as an actor in 8 films or television shows.

Listen to Follow and Morning, Morning because both are simply beautiful.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


One day at work, I had a personal telephone call, and a man introduced himself and said that he had found my business card in a book he'd gotten at the library and he said he would like to "meet" me as we obviously shared the same interests!

I attempted to explain to him that I hadn't been to the library in more than a year and I had no idea how my business card got into the book.

It was obvious he did not believe me and he implied that perhaps I'd left the card in there as a flirtatious gesture or as a come-on.

I was indignant and I asked, "What book is it?" When he told me, I laughed and said, "Oh, I know of ONLY one person who would be reading that kind of book and would also have one of my business cards and carelessly leave it in a book!" I don't think he believed me but I said, "I'm going to give her telephone number to you and I INSIST that you call her and I'm sure you two will have a lot to talk about!" I also said, "I am also going to call her and give your name and telephone number to her!"

The two actually got together--for a short time--which isn't surprising, because all of her relationships have been short-lived!

The book was about or by her favorite philosopher Alan Watts and it was some some sort of metaphysical treatise; she was forever foisting Watts' books on me and giving his books to me as presents.

She and I became friends in high school and have had an "on-again, off-again" relationship ever since. If a friend told me that she had no interest in a particular subject, I certainly would not give her books about the subject, but I'm not one to try to force my beliefs on others. To be her friend one MUST share her "belief system".

Perhaps that's the reason we're not truly friends.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013




Gerald, with tears in his eyes, delivered the news to me that our favorite performer, Richie Havens, had died. How can someone whom we only knew as a performer, have had such an impact on our lives? Although in the past, I was touched by the deaths of Audrey Hepburn and John Lennon, and recently, of Annette, my feelings tonight are of actual grief for this loss. Our lives (mine and Gerald's)are inextricably linked with Richie; we feel we grew up together.

I am reminded of the quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, on the death of President Kennedy: "We'll laugh, but we'll never be young again."

We were so very fortunate to have seen Richie numerous times in concert and small venues, and to sit and talk with him, and to feel we knew him.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Richie's family--his four daughters and grandchildren--and especially to his brother, Donald Havens, who replied to my BLOG article MEETING RICHIE HAVENS. (CLICK HERE to read that blog.)

CLICK HERE to read a story entitled "The voice of FREEDOM goes silent" about the death of Richie Havens.

Monday, April 22, 2013


The idea for Earth Day is attributed to founder Gaylord Nelson, a former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995, the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, for his role as Earth Day founder.

The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Reuse, recycle, and celebrate Earth Day 2013!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


In 1969, I went to a funeral home to pay my respects to one of my co-workers whose father had died. She and I became lifelong friends, but not because of that incident; that was nothing unusual; that's just what WE do! My mother always said, "We do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do!"

Years later, working a different place, I took disciplinary action with an employee. That employee immediately charged that I was discriminating against her because she is black. Of course the charge was untrue and fortunately, I had a number of black people there who came to my defense.

While the case was in the grievance process, I received a phone call from that woman with whom I had worked in 1969.

We had kept in contact throughout the years but at that time, we had not spoken for several months. After some "catching up", she asked, "What are you doing causing trouble there at work?" Her tone was humorous and I answered, "Well, you know me, just a damned racist!" She said, "You know what I did when I heard about it? I called that Union President and I called your boss." Shocked, I asked, "Oh, my God, why did you do that?" She said, "I told them that I'd known you since the 1960s and that when my daddy was laying a corpse, you were the only white person who came to the funeral!"

"Laying a corpse"; I had never heard that expression. Who would have thought that my "doing the right thing" back then would have meant such a great deal to her?

It finally dawned on me to ask, "How on earth did you hear about it?" She said, "Well, Honey, that's my niece that you wrote up." I was taken aback and I was quiet. She continued, "You should have fired her lazy ass!"

Saturday, April 20, 2013


The movie All That Jazz, was widely reported about, and undoubtedly is a roman a clef of the director Bob Fosse.

In the movie, no matter how bad his previous night and day had been, the actor Roy Scheider, portraying the character Joseph Gideon, does his morning routine: putting Visine drops in his eyes, drinking Alka Seltzer, taking Dexedrine, having a cigarette in the shower, and all the while listening to Vivaldi's Concert in G; then he finally looks in the mirror and says, "IT'S SHOW TIME, FOLKS!"

The movie was made in 1979, but after seeing the movie, on each day since, when I get out of my car to go to work, I say, to myself, "Show time!"

After I get to work and I'm asked how I am, I always say, "wonderful", "marvelous", "fantastic" or "fabulous", and even on a really bad day, I can still muster a "great"! I wish other people would put on their "game faces"; if only just occasionally! The repetitive moaning and groaning is, frankly, quite boring! Perhaps it's their lack of any other conversational gambit or they don't realize that very few people actually want to know "How are you?" I never use that as an opener, mainly because I know I would be in for an iteration of their maladies. I wish they were like the people in the accompanying definition from the URBAN DICTIONARY and at least give five minutes of conversation prior to enumerating their ailments.

Also, please see the following article from THE WISE GEEK:

Physically expressing an emotion - such as smiling - can trigger happiness.

Smiling has been found to increase feelings of happiness. Psychologists believe this is because the brain interprets the flexing of certain muscles to be indicative of a particular mood. For example, the zygomatic major is the facial muscle responsible for controlling the corners of the mouth.

When this muscle is flexed, it is thought that it triggers the neurological response that controls emotion. Another possibility is that smiling while around other people leads them to smile back, and the brain reads this as a social cue to feel happy.

CLICK HERE to see the YouTube video of All That Jazz.

Patient Zero

Typically an asshole that spends between five and ten minutes talking to you before mentioning casually that he/she is sick, causing you to wonder if you've now been infected by what this mouth breathing stick has. Usually it's just the common cold, but it could just as easily be ebola.
"I can't come in today, Patient Zero there got me sick yesterday when he was breathing all over the coffee cups."

Friday, April 19, 2013


A friend wrote on Facebook that she was saddened because she's been watching her grandmother's house being torn down and she's imbued with many fond memories.

When I pass my grandmother's house, I am always saddened. When I was a child, the house was white clapboard with green shutters. Now, the house is painted a horrid slate blue color on shingles with burgundy colored shutters. A couple of the shutters are coming apart and hanging lop-sided. It looks trashy!

I know that it was not a grand house, but it was nice. As I recall, there was large, dark woodwork throughout the house. My brothers and I used to enjoy sliding down the banister.

Two years ago I was circulating a petition and I went to that house to ask for signatures as I had checked the political affiliation of the residents. I had an ulterior motive: I was hoping to be invited into the house. As I went to the door, I was thrilled because the doorbell was the same--it's brass and one turns the handle to make the ringing noise--it must be at least 100 years old! I admit that I was trying to peek through the small windows beside the door, but the windows were so grimy, I could not see anything inside the house. My grandmother always had lace curtains at those windows. The stairway was adjacent to the front door. As one entered the house, the "parlor" was on the left side and the "living room" was to the right. I recall my mother and older brothers telling that when Grandpa died, he was "shown" in the parlor. Neil, who was four years old at the time, remembers that he told Grandpa to "get up"! As I was a year old, I have no memory of my grandfather. I was thirteen years old the the last time I was in the house.

When the owner came to the door, he came out onto the porch although he was barefooted! I even mentioned that it had been my grandparents' home, thinking that he might invite me to come in, but to no avail.

I've told Gerald, "If it's ever for sale, we should buy it." But, of course, I won't.

Although I have an excellent memory, Granny's house is probably not as "nice" as I remember!

Thursday, April 18, 2013



Paul Revere’s Ride
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
“Listen my children and you shall hear…”

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


My client and I were discussing the healthy properties of bananas and I said that I was surprised by the number of brands of bananas and he said he'd never noticed. I asked, "Haven't you ever noticed all the different kind of stickers on bananas?" He said that he thought there were only two banana producers: Dole and The United Fruit Company. I asked, "What about Chiquita?"

I told him that wherever I had worked, from producing corrugated containers to building bombers, there were numerous men in the plants who collected the stickers and put them on the inside of their lunch boxes. I laughed and said, "If I can find Gerald's lunch box he used before he retired, I can show you dozens of different banana stickers."

I supposed that this was a particular hobby for guys in manufacturing, but once I went in to to see the Director of Engineering; it was lunch time and he had his lunch box open, and yes, even that professional engineer had banana stickers inside his lunch box! When I remarked, he laughed and said, "What else can I do with them?"

Looking at the photos from Gerald's lunch box, you might be able to see some of the brand names: Dole, Del Monte, Bananza, Consul, Turbana, San Carlos, Onaya, Bonita, Pretty Liza, Lambada, Ecuador Gold, Suntop, and of course, the queen of all and with the most plentiful stickers, the lovely Chiquita. I learned that Chiquita is the main brand for The United Fruit Company, although they have several other brands of bananas. The character on Dole bananas is called "Bobby Banana".

The United Fruit Company began placing stickers on bananas in 1963. The other companies soon followed suit. I wasn't surprised to learn that there are, of course, serious banana sticker collectors. I went on one of their websites to ask if the "50th Anniversary of Chiquita" sticker--from 1974--is "valuable". Yes, Gerald has a "50th Anniversary of Chiquita" sticker from 1974 in his lunch box!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Continuity-spotting and anachronism-spotting in movies and television shows is a favorite pastime with Gerald, Les and me. Gerald is extremely good with "continuity-spotting" (scenes where lack continuity from previous scenes) and I am better at anachronism spotting (scenes where items are not historically correct). As the Grammaphobia article below shows, Downton Abbey is the favorite to watch for possible infractions!

Downton's steep learning curve:

Q: If I type “anachronisms” in a Google search box, Autocomplete suggests adding the words “downton abbey.” So this is not an original topic, but I spotted two possible slip-ups in a recent episode: “learning curve” and “a lot on my plate.”

A: Yes, anachronism-spotting has become something of a sport to watchers of Downton Abbey, and now we can chalk up a couple more.

The period TV drama is set in the years between 1912 and 1921, and it’s highly unlikely people who lived then would have known either “learning curve” or “a lot on my plate.”

Let’s look at “learning curve” first. It’s barely possible that a layman in 1920s England would have known the term, but it’s quite a stretch.

The phrase was in use at the time, in scholarly papers by research psychologists who used it in its literal, scientific sense—a curved line on a graph, representing the rate at which a certain skill is learned.

It’s even less likely that the expanded form of the phrase heard on the show—“steep learning curve”—would have been used then.

The linguist Ben Zimmer has also been following Downton anachronisms, and he had this to say in a recent Word Routes column on his Visual Thesaurus website:

“Matthew Crawley, the presumptive heir of Downton Abbey and now the co-owner of the estate, says, ‘I’ve been on a steep learning curve since arriving at Downton.’ By this he means that he’s had a difficult time learning the ways of Downton. Unfortunately, people didn’t start talking that way until the 1970s.”

Although the term “learning curve” was around in the early 1900s, Zimmer notes, “it didn’t become a common phrase until the ’70s, and it was then that the word steep began to be used to modify it in a rather peculiar way.” A “steep learning curve,” he says, came to mean “an arduous climb.”

He says “learning curve” was apparently first recorded in 1903 in a paper published in the American Journal of Psychology. This is also the earliest usage we’ve been able to find.

The author of the 1903 paper, Edgar James Swift, wrote: “Bryan and Harter (6) found in their study of the acquisition of the telegraphic language a learning curve which had the rapid rise at the beginning followed by a period of retardation, and was thus convex to the vertical axis.”

We checked out the earlier study that Swift refers to, but it didn’t actually use the term “learning curve,” so his usage does appear to be the first.

That earlier study, by William Lowe Bryan and Noble Harter of Indiana University, was published in the Psychological Review in 1897.

The article, “Studies in the Physiology and Psychology of the Telegraphic Language,” described experiments to determine the rates at which telegraph operators learned to send and to receive messages in Morse code.

Bryan and Harter used lines plotted on graphs to illustrate the rates at which the skills were learned. They described the lines with phrases like “sending curve,” “receiving curve,” and “curve of improvement,” but they never used “learning curve.”

Many people credit the concept of a learning curve—if not the phrase itself—to studies in memory published in 1885 by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus.

But his work doesn’t include the words Lernkurve or Erfahrungskurve, either of which might be translated into English as “learning curve.”

The Oxford English Dictionary hasn’t yet updated its entry for “learning curve” to reflect the earlier usages now available in digitized data banks.

The OED’s earliest example is from a paper published in 1922, and it defines only the literal meaning of the term: “a graph showing progress in learning.”

All of Oxford’s citations for “learning curve” use the phrase in this scientific sense, and the dictionary doesn’t mention any figurative uses.

The other expression you’re asking about, “a lot on my plate,” is another likely anachronism in Downton Abbey. The OED’s earliest citation is from 1928, and we haven’t found an earlier one.

The OED labels the phrase and its variants as colloquialisms meaning “to have a lot of things occupying one’s time or energy.”

Oxford’s earliest example is from the July 4, 1928, issue of a British newspaper, the Daily Express: “I cannot say. I have a lot on my plate. … Mr. Justice Horridge: A lot on your plate! What do you mean? Elton Pace: A lot of worry, my lord.”

This more contemporary example is from Dermot Bolger’s novel Ladies’ Night at Finbar’s Hotel (1999): “I have enough on my plate without worrying about you.”

Want to hear about more Downton Abbey anachronisms? Ben Zimmer has spoken on NPR’s “Morning Edition” about some others, like “I’m just sayin’ ” and “When push comes to shove.”

Monday, April 15, 2013


I always thought that the correct spelling for the little finger was "pinkie" but after seeing an article from The Wise Geek, I looked at several sources and found that the American spelling is "pinky" and "pinkie" comes from the Scots.

See the article below:

In medieval times, the pinky fingers were used during a meal, for tasting spices, such as salt or mustard. The act of sticking out one's pinky finger while drinking is thought to date back to the medieval practice of using it for dipping into spices, while eating. During this time period, eating utensils were not typically used. Rather, food was eaten with the hands, with the pinky fingers being extended out to remain clean so they could be dipped into spices and placed on the tongue. After the 16th century, utensils became commonplace, but the act of extending the pinky finger, particularly while drinking tea, has remained for some as an act of formality.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I relish contranyms: words spelled the same with an opposite set of meanings. A contranym is a word with a homograph (word of the same spelling) but also an autonym (word with opposite meaning). Confusing? Synonyms for contranym are: antogonym, Janus word, and auto-antonym, antilogy, and enantionymy. [RELISH, the second word in this article is just a poor homonym.]

This week Wordsmith (see below) published five contranyms: secrete, peruse,
second-guess, discursive, and impregnable.

My list of favorite contranyms:

cleave (to cut apart)
cleave (to seal together)

yield (produce)
yield (to concede)

bound (moving as in Bound For Glory)
bound (tied up)

off (deactivate)
off (activate, alarm went off)

left (remaining)
left (having gone)

refrain (not act upon)
refrain ( repetitive, as in music)

fast (moving quickly)
fast (fixed in place)

sanction (permit)
sanction (punish)

back (back someone)
back (move back)

handicap (disabled)
handicap (advantage given in sports)

oversight (not noticed)
oversight (monitoring)

fight (be against something)
fight (fight for something)

shell (have a shell)
shell (to remove shells)

awful (worthy of awe)
awful (something bad)

ravel (combine thread)
ravel (separate thread)

overlook (miss)
overlook (afford a view)

dust (remove dust)
dust (apply dust, as in dusting cookies)

cut (get out of school)
cut (get into a line)

moot (arguable)
moot (not worth of argument)

clip (to attach)
clip (cut off)

buckle (hold together)
buckle (to collapse)

weedy (overgrown)
weedy (stunted)

citation (award)
citation (penalty)

skin (cover with, as a drum)
skin (remove, as animal skins)

weather (to endure)
weather (erode)

with Anu Garg

In French, the word hôte can mean either host or guest. That may sound like a recipe for confusion, but context is everything. If you are checking into a Paris hotel and the contract they ask you to sign says that hôte is responsible for all charges, you can be confident that they mean the guest. French is not the only language with these contranyms. Words with contradictory meanings exist in most languages. The English equivalent of the above word, host, once had two contradictory senses as well; the "guest" meaning died out over time. But don't despair, we have many more. This week we'll look at contranyms.


verb tr.:
1. To discharge or release.
2. To conceal; to keep secret.

CLICK HERE to read an article on NPR entitled Having It Both Ways With Contranyms.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


We learned today of the death of Jonathan Winters. Please read my article published in 2011 by CLICKING HERE.

R.I.P., Johnny!

Friday, April 12, 2013


I now ask permission to use the actual names of people when I reference them in my BLOG. One time I referenced a friend's name and it upset the friend. I corrected it; the original BLOG article only goes to the e-mails of friends and family; all others who read the BLOG are "Followers" or look at the BLOG whenever they wish, or people find me from Google. I told my friend how many people who'd actually seen the article.

I can see how many "hits" I've had, but after the first year, I no longer check.

One of my brothers said, "Don't use MY name!" Everyone who knows me knows how many brothers I have and I'm asked frequently WHICH one it is WHEN I don't use the real name!

My best friend wrote, "Were you writing about ME?" I answered, "No, you are THE (friend) and all the others called friends are just "A" (friend) and not BEST (friend)!" She answered, "I thought maybe I had developed dementia and forgotten an incident!"


March 23: blogosfear

Fear of being talked about or becoming a character in someone's blog.
When he talked to his friend, he was overwhelmed with blogosfear thinking their conversation would be published the next day in her very popular blog.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I NEVER bring up the subject of the religion of other people, but other people seem to want to confront me about religion. Just recently three people have asked me about my religious beliefs. To each I have asked, "Why do you want to know?"

Recently, in a discussion about civil rights for LGBT people, a woman with whom I'm associated, who was not involved in the conversation, interrupted the conversation by saying that she doesn't believe in abortions. I answered, "That has nothing to do with this particular conversation." "Well, I'm a Christian and I don't believe in any of that liberal hogwash."

Knowing that was just a statement to bait me into some reaction, I answered, "I don't believe in abortion and I don't know anyone who does." I could see her shock. She said, "I'm surprised, since you're such a strong Democrat, I figured you did." I answered, "Oh, I believe that it's none of my business what other women do with their bodies; it's only my business what I do with mine."

She said, "I'm a Christian and I believe it for everybody." I reacted, "Really, YOU believe you are a Christian?" Obviously, she was taken aback, and asked, "Does that mean you don't think I'm a Christian?" I said, "I think you're one of those CONVENIENT CHRISTIANS who use religion to justify whatever they want to believe at the moment." Very angrily, she responded, "What does that mean?" I answered, "Whatever is convenient for you is what you believe." She asked, "Why would you think I'm not a Christian?" I answered, "You quote the Bible rather than the New Testament to justify your beliefs." "They're the same." I said, "No they're not, the Bible is the Bible and the New Testament is supposedly based on the teachings of Jesus Christ." She said, "I believe everything the Bible says."

I laughed and said, "Then, YOU should be stoned to death, according to Leviticus!" She literally screamed at me, "How dare YOU say something like that!" I said, "I am just quoting Leviticus." She said, "You have no right to judge me!" I said, "But I am NOT judging; I'm QUOTING; you're the one who just said you believe everything in the Bible." I said, "I am merely pointing out that you live your life in violation of what is contained in Leviticus and yet you want to judge other women who have committed a different sort of act YOU think is a violation; you are judging that YOUR lifestyle is OK but theirs isn't." She left and slammed the door.

She came right back and said, "I think you are terrible." I laughed out loud. She said, "You've picked something out of one part of the Bible." I laughed, "Just like you! See how CONVENIENT it is; you pick what you want to believe even though Jesus never said anything about abortion or gays; go read The New Testament!"

Fortunately, she left. I sincerely hope she went home and read Matthew 6:6.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Annette--when I was a girl, every girl wanted to BE her--every boy wanted to HAVE her. It is especially poignant to me how she is still able to affect us, as she hasn't appeared on screen since the Frankie Avalon movies. She touched our childhood and our teenage years and I am melancholy today at her passing.

When I heard that Annette had died, I immediately e-mailed my brothers. One of my brothers said that the only reason the boys watched the Mickey Mouse Club was to watch Annette GROW! We love John Fogerty's song I Saw It On TV (listen below) for a number of lines in it, but today I think of this one:

"Annette had ears, I lusted in my heart."

I saw Annette interviewed in 1994 on The Tom Snyder Show (see clip below) and she was there to talk about her teddy bears which she sold on QVC. When a female caller told how she had affected girls of her generation, Snyder interjected that she had also affected boys. Everyone understood the suggestion, but Annette just smiled and answered sweetly, as if she didn't know WHAT he meant.



R.I.P., sweet Annette!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


It's been a long time since I've heard the word "physic" (pronounced fiz-ick) meaning: "a medicine or drug, especially a cathartic". My client and I were discussing the use of castor oil given to us when we were children and he told me about BLACK DRAUGHT (he pronounces draught as "drawt"). I had never heard of black draught and he'd never heard the term physic, as his family pronounced it "PHUH-ZEKE."

I can recall my grandmother saying, "They need to have a regular FIZZICK." Of course my mother didn't believe that "old wives tale" and we only had castor oil and epsom salts as a remedy for extreme cases. I just quipped, "After I'd had one dose of castor oil, I never told my mother I had any problem after that!" My client said he had an aunt who would insist on giving him castor oil. He suggested that she should show him "how" to take it; he mixed a teaspoon of castor oil in a glass of Orange Crush and the aunt drank it. She "had the runs" to the bathroom for three straight days! He said that was the last time she ever mentioned castor oil.

He was surprised when I showed him on the internet that black draught is still available!

Monday, April 8, 2013


This is a better method than boiling eggs.

Place eggs on their sides in a mini-muffin pan; use the mini-muffin pan to prevent the eggs rolling over.

Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Remove the eggs from the muffin pans with tongs and place in an ice bath immediately.

This is by far the best way to fix hard-cooked eggs. You can do 1 egg or 24 eggs; time and temperature are the same. When I do a large amount of eggs I fill the sink with ice water and place them right in the sink. By using the muffin pans, the yolks stay in the center and can easily be cut lengthwise, which makes an attractive deviled egg. The eggs are very easy to peel; no sticking.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


I received yet another reprehensible document vilifying the President (see below where ONE honorable person retracted the LIE). The screed FALSELY claimed that when SSgt. Salvatore Giunta received the Congressional Medal Of Honor, his family was forced to sit in the third row while members of Congress were front and center. This story, making the internet rounds, is completely FALSE! Sadly, I received the shameful story from two different people.

I replied to both of the most recent rants and I provided proof that the messages were LIES! I asked the people who forwarded the loathsome messages to have enough character and courage to send the proof to all of the people to whom they had forwarded the LIES. What do I think of the possibility of that happening? Not one of these people has ever written back to me to apologize for their other LIES, so I doubt they will be retracting the current LIE.

One friend told me that I could use NICER words instread of calling them LIARS! I answered that I didn't believe in euphemisms and if people had such disrespect to forward such trash, they should have the word LIE capitalized and not use the tame term "falsehood." Not only are they LIES, they are goddamned LIES!

I oftentimes wonder HOW I can actually KNOW mendacious people like this who could forward such invective without verifying the source! Are they so desperate to believe WHAT they want to believe that they will sacrifice all their MORALS and send the detestable LIES? Friends tell me that they just DELETE such offensive messages, and that I should ignore them as the senders are trying to "get to" me, but I cannot ignore them!

WHY do people continue to fabricate, falsify, and forward LIES about our President? Why don't they recognize the EVIL they are transmitting? What reason could there possibly be for people to resort to such calumny? Hmmmm? I think I know. These bigots wrap themselves in the flag and tell LIES because they are too cowardly to admit that their fury is because the President's mother was white and his father was black. I can respect people with differing views about the President's policies. In fact, I have disagreed with the President. I have no respect for people who forward LIES about him.

I laugh out loud at those who grandly proclaim it's about the "deficit" while hiding behind their cloak of prejudice. I always ask them, "Why didn't you send me stuff attacking his predecessor when he was creating all these problems?"

Their vituperation cannot be because of the President's policies because he's spent all of his time cleaning up the mess that was left to him.

As much as I disliked the Messrs Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, I NEVER forwarded any LIES about them. Just telling the truth about them was damning enough! I never had to resort to the tactics of these ignoble people.

It has been correctly pointed out to me that the content of this video is false (see comment from Michelle). I tracked down the video from the actual presentation, and SSGT Guinta's family are clearly in the front row. CLICK HERE to see the story and video.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


The people next door to my client are having their front steps replaced. My client said, "Those guys do a good job--they're Amish." I said, "They can't be; they're driving vehicles." He said, "They're allowed to." I said, "No, the Mennonites do." He said he knew they were Amish because they'd done other work for the neighbors. I said, "I'll settle this, I'll go ask them."

When I approached the two men, one was clean shaven and the other had a beard about eight inches long but it was growing just from his chin and not from his entire face. I said, "The next-door neighbor says you're Amish, but I told him you couldn't be because you're using modern equipment." He answered, "I'm not going to talk about it and it's rude of you to ask."

RUDE? Of course he was right and I deserved to be upbraided.

Touche! to the Concrete Worker.

Did I apologize? Of course not; I just slunk away in embarrassment.

Recently an acquaintance asked what I considered an inopportune question and I answered, "Why do you want to know?"

"Same difference" as my oxymoronic friend would say.

Friday, April 5, 2013


With great sadness we just learned of the death of Roger Ebert.

Please see my homage from 2011:

We have been fans of Roger Ebert since we first saw him and Gene Siskel in 1978 on PBS. Les usually agreed with Gene and I usually agreed with Roger. We have all of Roger's books and we read his movie reviews online from The Chicago Sun-Times. Roger and Gene had several permutations of their show when moving from network to syndication, beginning with "Sneak Previews" followed by "At The movies With Siskel and Ebert" and then "Siskel and Ebert". They were together for twenty-three years and Gene's death in 1999 was a devastating blow to Roger but he continued on with many substitutes, finally settling on Richard Roeper. After their show was cancelled Roger started a new show in January, 2011 named "Ebert Presents The Movies. The new TV show has Bill Kurtis reading his reviews and his wife Chaz making some appearances but the two youngins leave much to be desired although they are obviously Roger's choices.

Roger began his battle with cancer in 2002 which has left him horribly disfigured and he was so brave to appear at Cannes Film Festival recently.

Roger and Gene Siskel's widow still own the trademarked "Two Thumb Up!" phrase. Roger was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Roger is the only film critic to have a Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Forbes Magazine once listed him as the most important pundit.

Although Roger considers "Citizen Kane" the "most important" movie of all time, he will not say it's his favorite. His all-time favorite actors were Robert Mitchum and Ingrid Bergman.

Roger's TOP 10 ALL-TIME MOVIES are listed alphabetically:


I sent Roger an e-mail telling him that I thought it was interesting that neither of his favorite actors are in his favorite movies.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I have registered numerous family and friends to WORDSMITH.ORG . My friend Mona Lisa just forwarded the latest to me, along with this message:

"I looked in the dictionary for LOGOPHILE and there was your picture!"

See LOGOPHILE below:

noun: One who loves words.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013



Former United States President Harry Truman was the first person enrolled in Medicare.

He was enrolled by President Lyndon Johnson during the ceremony in which President Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965.

How fitting since President Truman was the first President to introduce legislation to try to enact universal health care. 60 years later, President Obama signed The Affordable Care Act into law.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013




Despite the popular misconception, muscles won't actually turn into fat if you don't use them. The reason for this common misconception is likely, because as you stop using muscles, they get smaller. At the same time, if you keep eating the same amount of food, you'll usually gain fat since you decreased your energy output. The new fat often appears in the space provided by the shrinking muscles, leading to the appearance of muscles turning into fat.

Monday, April 1, 2013


My favorite word with no English equivalent is schadenfreude, a German word which means the pleasure one gets at another's misery: my definition: going to one's class reunion and everyone there is heavier or more wrinkled than you.

I also like the Yiddish words chutzpah, schlimazel, and verklempt. Chutzpah: I like Mel Brooks' definition: "A guy who kills both his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan!" Schlimazel: I like the definition of a person who, if he didn't have bad luck, would have no luck at all. Verlempt: I like Barbra Streisand's definition: "Feeling all whipped-cream inside."

CLICK HERE to read the article on '14 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent'.