Book Review #26

I don’t read anything, just to tick off boxes on someone else’s Challenge list.  I have however, recently read two candidates for ‘A Book Published Before You Were Born.’  I reread the micro-short story, The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allen Poe.  When I downloaded it from the Internet, a note appeared below, saying, People who researched this, were also interested in…. and showing several other old titles, including Herman Melville’s, Bartleby the Scrivener.  I’ve never read it, and free is my favorite flavor.

Published 1853

Back in the ’60s, Ajax Cleanser had a series of TV ads where they claimed that their product was Stronger than dirt.  Since I am Older Than Dirt, it’s a struggle to find interesting books that old.

The book: Bartleby the Scrivener

The author: Herman Melville

The review:
The entire book is an un-named narrator, relating the tale of the strange actions and attitudes of a clerk that he employed.  The titled Bartleby was hired by a lawyer as a scrivener, a man who produced handwritten copies of deeds, and wills, and other legal documents, in the age before typewriters, Xerox machines, or computers.

Bartleby drove his employer to distraction.  He produced mountains of perfect copies, but quietly refused to perform any other menial task, such as proof-reading other clerks’ work, or going to the Post Office, with statements like, ”At present I might opt for not to be a bit reasonable.”

Despite it being locked up at close of work hours, the lawyer discovered that Bartleby somehow was living in the offices.  Eventually, he refused to do any work, yet continued to firmly but politely, decline to leave the premises.

While the book is 170 years old, I can’t believe that people of the time spoke, or wrote, like this.  It must have just been the author’s idiosyncratic technique.  The entire book reads like one of those machine-translated spam comments you receive.  Scores of words with two or more definitions were used with the wrong meaning in the context of the passage.

After a few phrases touching on his qualifications, I engaged him, satisfied to have among my corps of copyists a person of so singularly sedate an issue, which I notion might perform beneficially upon the flighty temper of Turkey, and the fiery certainly one of Nippers.

Turkey and Nippers were the nicknames of two of the narrator’s other law clerks.  A third was Ginger Nut, because his desk drawer was often full of shells of various nuts, which he irritated the office by cracking and eating while at work.

The fiery Nippers, among other strange actions, had been known to grasp up a ruler, point it at the cease of the room, (taken to mean ‘the far end’) and shout, “Fee the foe!”,  an expression that neither Bing, nor Google, nor Dictionary.com are aware of.  After some thought, I came to assume that the first word should be fie??  An expression of mild disgust or annoyance.

His fourth copyist, is rendered as ¼.  The third key to his private apartment, is described as .33.  It’s a one-trick-pony, or a one-joke-book.  It never sold widely.  It was mildly amusing for what it was, but not terribly deep, or socially significant, and always slightly confusing.  Ah well, it was an adventure.  Despite being as old as it is, it ticked off a box in another blogger’s Challenge.  When was the last time you tried something new?  😕

There Are No Words To Describe It

When I claimed that there is no English language, John, our jovial trivial videographer asked, “How do they know English has no original words?”

I responded that, “I know, because I’ve historically researched it for years, especially when I was tracing my ‘Scottish’ roots.  The results of that search are at It’s In The Jeans, if you’re interested.

Let’s start 2000 years ago, when what would later become England, was sparsely settled, and the language was the various dialects of Celtic tribes, like the Iceni, whose Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) was so badly treated by the invading Romans.

The Romans added many words to the mix, including much Latin, but only the officers were “Romans.”  The spear-carriers and their polyglot languages came from all around the Mediterranean.  Traders from far and wide visited the shores also.  Christ’s uncle, Joseph 0f Arimathea, supposedly traded along the western coast, bringing Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Around 900 AD, the Germanic Jutes, Angles, and Saxons arrived, making themselves and their languages at home.  The Jutes somehow just disappeared, but the Angles and Saxons became “Anglo-Saxon.”   The ‘Angle land’ kingdoms became the ‘England’ of today.  Their language mixed with the Romano-Celtic, with additions from Scottish Picts, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, and Welsh, becoming Old English, a term only applied today.

A hundred years later, William the Conqueror, invaded the island.  He was the king of the French province of Breton, bringing the term ‘Britain’ to the language.  Many new words and terms were added.  Although consumption was in French, production was still in ‘English.’  Veau, boeuf, porc, and poulet were eaten by French nobles as veal, beef, pork, and poultry, while peasants still raised ‘English’ calves, cows, pigs, and chickens.

Norse Vikings, whose language also carried much Germanic influence, began raiding, and settling, adding some of their words to the olio.  The rise of the British Empire brought back words from all over the globe, Asia (Hong Kong), and hundreds from India.

The Kings and Queens of Europe were all inter-related, bringing in words from Spain, France, Italy, Poland and Russia.  The British Royal Family were German Battenbergs until WW I forced them to become English Mountbattens.

As new words were added, old terms fell out of use.  Some old English words are still in dictionaries as archaic.  Shewed and shewn became showed and shown, and thee, thou, thy and thine became you, your and yours.

It’s like trying to nail fog to a tree. There never was (and still isn’t) a time when there was a true English language.  It all came from somewhere else.  It is the tongue of immigrants, traders and conquerors – and a most excellent tool for communication.

Word is, that there will be another, fascinating post here in two days.  I will use these immigrant words to describe how elated I am that you visit.  😀

To Put It Another Way – I

I continue to be amazed and disappointed, yet entertained, by the many ways people find to misuse the English Language.  😳

Pros

It seamingly permeates all of society – You seemingly don’t know one word from the other.

Leaving them so depended on others – That is dependent on knowing the correct word

The powerful engine enabled verticle takeoff – That’s just straight-up wrong.

They’d sell corpses to medical schools for extra mullah. – If they’d had a little extra moolah, they could have hired someone to teach them that a mullah is a Muslim teacher/priest.

Amateurs

Calm in sense seems a tad uncommon – but such misusages are all too common.

God will reign down blessings – the correct spelling of rain being one of them.

Feb 21th – I don’t know what to say??!  😯

HE’S NOT JOKING

How many liberls does it take to CHANG a Log by bolb????
NONE!!!! THEIR too BUsy changing?????? their chender

From week to wicked, building a hot rod – That spelling is weak – and wicked

I was waiving my hand – to renounce the incorrect spelling of waving

Proof is easy to fine – and misusage is easy to find

Working in retail is a right of passage – But you didn’t use the right rite.

It wheats my appetite for more – My wheats are shredded, so I use whets.

It could have been their deminer – But it was more likely their demeanor.

 

Fibbing Friday VII

With Pensitivity101 staring aghast, I have prefabricated some prevarications for another list of her Purloined Patented Posers ©

  1. Where will you find a pushme-pullyou?

At any K-Mart Blue-Light Special.  It’s the main reason that there are no more K-Mart stores in Kinder, Gentler Canada anymore.  Only in the U.S. do they combine cheap clothing sales with MMA death matches.
2. What is meant by the term ‘chocolate box’?

I’m not sure.  I’ve never seen a chocolate box.  I’ve seen a cracker box.  A tomato can.  I’ve seen a horse fly, but I’ve never seen a deer fly.  Bonnie May, but Donna Wood.
3. Who lived in the house made with gingerbread, cake and pastries?

The guy who is Public Enemy #1 on the Weight-Watchers Most Wanted list.  Since I cut back a bit on my snacks, and lost 20 American pounds, or 9 Canadian kilos, my ranking has dropped from #7, to #9.
4. Where will you find Mr. Stay Puft?

On a bench at the strip-mall, three doors down from the new marijuana dispensary.
5. Where will you find The Hallelujah Mountains?

That’s what women discover when they take off the bandages, after breast augmentation surgery.  Hallelujah, Mountains!
6. What did Gru intend to steal with the Shrink Ray?

It wasn’t exactly “steal.”  It was more like an extortion scheme.  He was going to shrink all the Kardashians’ butts, and blackmail them – and several Black guys with no taste – to return them to their ridiculous but normal size.  Just as he was lining up on Kim’s ass, ‘Andy,’ who became the 40 Year Old Virgin, suddenly appeared.  He had sneaked in to discover whether Kanye West was CGI, or an animatronic built by American Amusement Corporation.  Gru’s shot hit him right in the crotch, causing a small problem, and the plan collapsed.
7. Going back a long way, what was ‘Baby’ in the 1938 film Bringing Up Baby?

She was the girl who grew up to be the actress who played ‘Baby’ in the movie Dirty Dancing“Nobody puts ‘Baby’ in the corner!”
8. Who played the drums in The Muppets?

It was Charlie Watts for a while, but Janice and the rest of the band felt that his face was frightening children, so they replaced him with the Muppets Animal.  Charlie went on to fame and fortune with the Rolling Stones, playing at morticians’ conventions.
9. What magical instrument did Sparky play?

See #4.  It was a Bic lighter.  For 79¢ at the nearby Dollarama store, he gets to join in on the festivities all day – and night.  “Hey man, got a light?”  “Sure – for a toke off your little friend.  Here, I’ll spark it up for you.”
10. What did ‘Andy’ have waxed in The 40 Year Old Virgin?

See #6, above.  It was his snowboard.  After getting his sex appeal downsized, women were freezing him out.  He wasn’t getting laid, and his sex-life was going downhill fast.

The truth is, I’ll be back in a couple of days with And Now For Something Completely Different.

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One – V

Agon (noun) [AH-gahn]
Conflict, especially the dramatic conflict between the main characters in a literary work.
The family feud in “Romeo and Juliette” is a famous agon.

Billow (verb) [BIL-oh]
to swell up, to puff out, as by the action of wind
Held by two men, the flag billowed within their grasp as though it could unfurl any moment.

Clishmaclaver (noun) [klish-muh-kley-ver, kleesh]
Scottish: gossip, idle or foolish talk
There was no way that Robbie Burns Day would be cancelled.  It was utter clishmaclaver.

Ekistics (noun) [ih-kis-tiks]
The scientific study of human settlements, drawing on diverse disciplines, including architecture, city planning, and behavioral science.
(Look out!  Big Brother is watching you.)

Gewgaw (noun) [gyoo-gaw, goo]
Something gaudy and useless, trinket, bauble
The tourist market was filled with nothing but counterfeit handbags and gewgaws – objects that no-one really wanted

Gleek (verb) [gleek]
Archaic: To make a joke, to jest
First recorded 1540 – 50, of uncertain origin  (Let’s Blame the Scots.)
In Shakespearean plays, joking was referred to as gleeking

Impecunious (adjective) [im-pi-kyoo-nee-uh s]
Having little or no money, penniless, poor
The dot-com crash left him impecunious, with not a cent to his name.

Moira (noun) [moy-ruh]
A person’s fate or destiny
She believed that it was her moira to win a gold Olympic medal.

Naissance (noun) [ney-suh ns]
A birth, an organization, or a growth, as that of a person, an organization, an idea, or a movement.
The naissance of the Civil Rights Movement occurred on college campuses.

Pilgarlic (noun) [pil-gahr-lik]
A person regarded with mild or pretended contempt or pity
Chris was a bit of a pilgarlic, untrusted and untrustworthy.

Pyknic (adjective) [pik-nik]
Characterised by shortness of stature, broadness of girth, and powerful musculature
Even though he had a pyknic build – short and stocky – he was well-known for his brute strength.

Remonstrate (verb) [ri-mon-streyt]
To say or plead in protest, objection, or disapproval
The decision to trade the popular player caused many fans to remonstrate.

Shimony – also Simony (noun)  [sehy-muh-nee, sim-uh]
the making of profit out of sacred things.
the sin of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments, benefices, etc.
1175–1225; Middle English simonie <Late Latin simōnia; so called from Simon Magus, who tried to purchase apostolic powers; see Simon (def. 5)-y3
This is the word which my son, Shimoniac, bases his online identity on.

Whatsis (noun) [hwuhts-iss, hwots-,wuhts-, wots-]
A thing or object whose name one does not know, or cannot recall
Having momentarily forgotten the word for “stapler,” he asked his colleague to bring him the whatsis.

Word is, there’ll be another great post in a couple of days.  See you there.  Don’t be late.  You know how grumpy my ego can get, if it hasn’t been fed.  👿

WOW #72

I just have an irresistible urge to tell you about my new dog.  He’s a cute little thing.  He’s a registered Greek sheep-herding dog.  He doesn’t empty his bladder or his bowels in the house, but he does wander around shedding excess vowels all over the floor. We call him

Cacoethes.

His name is from the Greek language, meaning an irresistible urge – mania.  It originally meant of bad character – caco – ethos.  I’m the bad character that he has to deal with.

I’m using him to ride herd on a bunch of other Greek terms that came in through the back door, into the English language – words like cacophony – which is a loud, disagreeable noise – or euphony, which is a lovely sound, like a teller counting out $50 bills for you – or euphemism, which is a pleasant word or phrase, substituted for a harsh or offensive one – or utopia – which means a pleasant or perfect place, but who parked too close to the dictionary, and got its initial letter E knocked off – or Phi Beta Kappa – which means a loud obnoxious frat keg toga party.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s all hyperbole, anyway.

I have found a euphemism being used by (those who wouldn’t say s**t if they had a mouthful) people of delicate sensibilities, but who don’t seem to understand either English or Greek.  The phrase “fucked the dog” means idled, lazed, shirked work or other responsibility.  It is being replaced, even by some reputable authors, with the supposedly less offensive, “screwed the pooch”, but which means erred, or messed up, particularly at a significant junction.  Not the same thing at all.

My dog’s an alpha.  If there’s any screwing going on, he’s the one doing it.  Some of those sheep have a worried look.  I’m not worried.  I look forward to having you visit and read again soon.  😀

The Long And Winding Road

It was ten years ago today – November 21, 2011 – that I burst upon the wide and welcoming WordPress landscape.  I immediately began spewing forth bullshit to fertilize the fields, and bring in crops of creativity, contentment and controversy.

A WHOLE TEN YEARS?

IT’S BEEN AN ENTIRE DECADE?

I can’t possibly know all two million WordPress participants, but of the popular, well-known blog-sites of ten years ago, faint few are still posting.  AFrankAngle has ceased his social/political observations, and in his retirement, has re-invented himself as Beach Walk Reflections, offering more philosophical meditations.

Like me, although more lucidly, the Coastal Crone is still pumping out rants and rambles on a wide variety of interesting subjects.  After you’re finished reading my work, you might have a look at each of them.

While my blogging was to be a way to occupy my time in retirement, and give me a chance to be creative and tell my little stories, I have treated it as at least a part-time job.  With no-one to answer to but me, I still work hard to guarantee that scheduled posts are ready and published on time.  While I treasure my visitors, I still also do this very much for me, to keep me organized and thinking clearly.

Other than a few, extra, bonus posts like this, I long ago settled into a steady three-a-week, Monday/Wednesday/Friday publishing schedule.  Tallying it up, it means that this is my 1475th post.  I recently turned 77.  With good genes, and increasing medical support, I hope to still be doing this in another ten years.  I look forward to be still attracting someone’s attention.

As I threaten, at the top, I offer rants and rambles about many things.  I have provided history, humor, insights into language development, politics, religion, and some peeks into growing up in both a small town, and one that is crammed with big-city summer residents.

As The Beatles say, it’s been The Long and Winding Road, and I have enjoyed every twisted mile of it.   A big shout-out and thanx to all my visitors, both past and future.  Excelsior!!

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 10 years ago. Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

Sailor Smart

Some people will not be educated, no matter how hard we try.

When I attended high school, each year’s English class required that all students read six non-curriculum books.  You could pick them.  They could be about anything, but to prove that you had read them, you were required to submit a Book Report on each one – remember those? – fondly??

To prevent nerds like me from submitting them all in September, rules stated that they had to be spaced out.  A lad a year older than me, from landlocked Ontario, Canada, decided that he wanted to join the Navy, so he didn’t need to read no stinkin’ books.  Nearing the end of the year, he had managed to submit only five; although I think that a couple of them were based on Classics Illustrated comic books (Remember those, too?) – so he invented one.

Possibly using a reference to Herman Melville’s book, Billy Budd – Sailor, he gave it the title Sailor Smart, supposedly printed by a known school-text publishing house – number of pages and a plot précis – the story of a landlocked, Midwest boy who wanted desperately to join the Navy.  I’d have been tempted to let him away with his ruse, just for demonstrating such creativity and inventiveness.  The tough old schoolmarm, who made Archie’s Miss Grundy look like a kindly nun, spent most of an instruction period excoriating him, and demanded a real book be read and report filed.

He must have succeeded.  He graduated Grade 12, moved to Halifax, joined the Navy, and was never seen again.  Reading for enjoyment seems to be a Yes or No proposition.  My Mother read!  My Father didn’t!  I’ve known many intelligent, successful people who won’t read a novel, even when they could spare the time.  I just can’t imagine me without a book…. Or three.

I have seen many reading challenge posts.  I recently ran into this one.

In 2021, choose 6 books that have titles that contain a:

  • One/1 (ex. One Second AfterThe 100)
  • Doubled word (ex. In a Dark, Dark WoodWolf by Wolf)
  • Reference to outer space (ex. The Fault in Our Stars)
  • Possessive noun (ex. The Zookeeper’s Wife)
  • Botanical word (ex. The Language of FlowersThe Sandalwood Tree)
  • Article of clothing (ex. Bossypants)

The writer had read 12 books in a year, for a Goodreads challenge, but had read them all in the month of January, and then added 30 more by the end of the year.  I don’t understand the point of such challenges.  It can’t be to get people to read, because those who accept, already read – usually, a lot.  It doesn’t seem to be to get readers to read outside their preferred genre sphere, because you could pick books to satisfy all these requirements – in Romance, Sci-Fi, action/adventure, murder mystery, religion or political science.

In 2020 I read almost 40 books, from all the above varieties except Romance.  I checked them against this artificially concocted list, and found that I only had a match in (Maybe) three of the six categories.  No ‘ones’ or 1’s.  No doubled words.  Outer space came with Space Vikings, Star Rangers, Star Soldiers, and When The Star Kings Die – although both of The Expanse series, Babylon’s Ashes and Nemesis Games occur in outer space, but their titles don’t indicate that.

Possessive nouns returned with Babylon’s Ashes in hand.  The mystery Kevin: Murder Beneath the Pines provided the only botanical reference.  The requirement for an article of clothing might be satisfied, if you consider a gold watch to be clothing.

I refuse to obtain books just to satisfy some synthetic list.  I read what I find, that interests me, and Damn the Book Titles!  Full speed ahead!  How about you?  Would you buy/read just to check off some list??!

Fibbing Friday VI

Property of Pensitivity101 LLC.  All rights reserved – and some of the lefts, too.  Used without Penny’s knowledge, and definitely without her permission.  This is a lesson about the correct usages of lie and lay.  I’m going to lie to you, and I’m going to lay it on thick.

  1. What does it mean if you have an itchy right palm?

Your Grandma told you if you kept doing that, you’d go blind.  You said that you would stop when you just needed glasses.

  1. On the other hand, what does it mean if you have an itchy left?

Oh, it’s kinky, and you get a much stronger climax if you switch hands.  It feels like a stranger is doing it to you.

  1. Why is it considered good luck to find a horseshoe?

You’re lucky that, while you were passed out in that alley, under the influence of booze and/or drugs, the passing horse didn’t step on your head.  You’re also lucky that the only part of the horse that you had to pick up after, was a horseshoe.

In 1880s New York City, thousands of wagon-loads of meat and produce came into the city each day, and hundreds of them left, loaded with horse-shit manure, to fertilize the fields so that more could be grown.  Street sweepers were hired to gather it up, and haul it away.  I’ll bet the high school career counsellor didn’t mention that job.  😯

  1. Why is saying ‘Bless you’ when someone sneezes considered to be good luck?

In the dark and distant past – as recently as yesterday – superstitious savages actually believed that “your soul” could leave your body when you sneezed.  Saying ‘bless you,’ or ‘God bless you’ somehow helped to stuff it back in.  I don’t think that I qualify to be so blessed, and I don’t feel that most people who say it are properly trained or authorized to do so.

  1. Why do we say ‘Find a penny, pick it up?’

I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me – Canada has stopped minting pennies, so every one I find is a collector’s item.  Besides, if I keep it for six or eight weeks, it gains enough interest to become part of one of my ‘Smitty’s Loose Change’ blog-posts.

  1. Why do we ‘knock on wood?’

It’s a paean of praise for the Good Old Days, when things like window frames, doors, and even furniture was actually made of “wood.”  Nowadays, it may look like wood, but it’s probably metal or plastic – unless those sheets of glued-together sawdust that IKEA and Wal-Mart sell are considered wood.  😯

  1. Why is the number 666 considered unlucky?

666 isn’t really unlucky.  That’s where Satan lives, or, as he likes to identify himself, Bob, my neighbor.  His dog barks all night.  His cat digs up plants in my flower bed and pisses under my front window.  His kid climbs my tree and breaks branches off.  Number 668 is truly the unlucky one.  That’s where I live.  I’m the neighbor of The Beast!  😥

  1. Why do some people believe it’s unlucky to step on the cracks in the pavement?

BREAKING NEWS:  THIS JUST IN!

Scientific studies have revealed that we’ve been doing it wrong all along.  Apparently, stepping on sidewalk cracks, or even stomping on them, is good for your Mother’s back – and your Father’s, and the whole family.  If we all just mastered our aversion, we would all walk straighter and truer.

  1. Why do we cross our fingers for good luck?

We cross our fingers so that we can lie our face off – and get away with it – fibs, exaggerations, little white lies.  The crossed fingers represent the Christian cross.  The stupidstitious superstitious somehow believe that, by performing some arcane, magical, mystical, mythical, manual manipulation, they can get God to accept them as long-term-loyalty preferred-customers when they ignore the 15 Bible verses forbidding lying, and either get Him to overlook it, or immediately forgive them for their sin.

This is why we seldom saw Donald Trump’s hands, not that they were tiny, instead of the large, manly-man hands that he claimed to have.  He lied so much, so often, so broadly, so continuously, so outrageously, that he would have had crossed fingers on top of other crossed fingers.  His hands would have looked like an explosion in a Chinese noodle restaurant.  😯

  1. Why is it unlucky to open an umbrella indoors?

You know what catches my eye?
Short people with umbrellas!
  😳

Because it blocks the rays from the ultra-violet lamps that help to kill off the COVID19 virus, so that we can get back to the allegedly normal.

It’s been difficult, typing all this with my fingers crossed, but the cramps are finally easing.  I’ll be able to click ‘Publish’ again in a couple of days.  See you then.   😉  😀

’21 A To Z Challenge – O

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to stand ars est celare artes on its head.  Throw a lot of words at it, especially big, impressive ones, and some foreign terms, to make readers think that you’ve actually done a lot of work, then drag out the theme-word

OPEROSE

Industrious, as a person.
Done with or involving much labor.

It comes from the same base as opus, and opera, which is a lot of labor and a slew of words, meaning ‘two hours of shut-the-fuck-up – in a foreign language.’  The same amount of loud music and incomprehensible lyrics can be had at an AC/DC concert, with the added benefits of free herbal enhancement, and not having to get all dressed up.

The same dress code is in effect while reading my opus-es.  You can view my stuff in your pajamas – or NO pajamas – as long as you remember to turn the web camera off.  I gotta look busy now.  The boss is coming.  Bring some croissants for Wednesday.  I’m working hard, making some jam.  😀