Monday, September 5, 2011

Weekly Grab Bag No.1: Please Don’t Call Me Random

A collection of short comments—things I find funny or interesting enough to mention but not worthy of a whole blog entry individually. I'll probably do this about once a week. The theme of this set is linguistics.
In arbitrary order...
  • I like to use arbitrary to mean “following no particular pattern.” I think it’s better than random, in my opinion one of our most overused words.
  •  I had a friend from South Africa who always said, “Howzit?” for an informal greeting. (Short for “How’s it going?”) It works the same as “Wassup?” but I think it has a better ring to it. Packs more punch. I’d like to see it come into popular use. I’m also considering starting a new one of my own invention: “Cape?” It’s short for ¿Que Pasa? It could become a big hit in the Southwest or anyplace with a strong Hispanic presence, and you can say you heard it here first.
  •  George Carlin wrote, “You rarely run into a damsel anymore.” He’s right. I can’t recall the last time I saw one.
  • Another term we don’t use much anymore: fortnight. I don’t know why it’s slipped into disfavor. I mean, most of us are paid fortnightly, and it’s a nice interval between a week and a month. It’s just gone the way of the score, as in “four score and seven years ago.” That gives me an idea… What if we use “four score fortnights” when we want to talk about a period of just over three years? We probably won’t say it very often, but when we do we’ll sure sound fancy! I actually did the math and found that fourscore fortnights works out to three years, three months, three weeks, and three days (when it spans a leap year). I’ve been looking for a chance to deploy it in normal conversation. My friends will ask, “Four what?” and I’ll explain. Then there will be no doubt of my creativity and intelligence, or my abundance of free time.
  • Lately, my favorite kind of bird is the Grackle, partly because I like how its name sounds, but mostly because I read a beautiful poem by Robert Penn Warren called “Grackles, Goodbye.” I love how every line of this poem sounds (and feels). I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a real Grackle, or that I’d know it if I did, but that doesn’t matter. Such is the power of poetry.
  • Here’s a fun word: Humdinger. Its synonyms, according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, include bee’s knees, crackajack, jim-dandy, and ripsnorter. You don’t have to be over 70 to use these terms, but it helps.

And now, because I believe every blog post should have a little splash of color... here is a gratuitous photo of my friend's copper watering can in the shape of a chicken. (I think she uses it to water her eggplants.) If you're asking yourself, "Self, why would he put that photo here?" then my answer to both of you is, "Where else would I put a chicken-shaped watering can? If not for the grab bag post, it would just rot in my hard drive, never getting a chance to grace your retinas." I told you this blog would sometimes be pointless.


Love my blog but want more cowbell? Wish I would fall into an abyss, or at least throw my laptop in? Feel I should have chosen 12 pt. Arial instead of 14 pt. Verdana? Comment below! I’m not a mind reader.

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