’21 A To Z Challenge – B

Back in the old days, you young whippersnappers, I occasionally published ‘Remember When’ posts, to pump up my older readers’ nostalgia, and show the younger ones what they may be fortunate to have missed.

This year, for the letter B, I’ve decided to rant and rave about the

BANDERSNATCH

an imaginary wild animal of fierce disposition.

a person of uncouth or unconventional habits, attitudes, etc., especially one considered a menace, nuisance, or the like.

The word was coined, with the first meaning, about 1855 by the Anglican Deacon, the Reverend Charles Dodgson, hiding his identity as the author Lewis Carroll.  Hide he should!  He wrote about fantastical, imaginary creatures, and strange words that didn’t exist.  In his Alice in Wonderland books, he has poor Alice eating magic mushrooms, and drinking absinth-like liquids which distort her perceptions and cause hallucinations, making her to seem to shrink and grow.  The good pastor was a drug fiend.

From the original meaning has come the more recent value, and much of it may be due to recreational drug use.  Nostalgiac and déjà vu terms for these people might include miscreant, or ruffian.  Today’s paper printed three Op-Ed letters, and they were all about people who litter, especially the community trails.

One woman says that she and her husband go out (properly masked) for walks together.  Each of them takes a store-issued plastic bag.  They don’t get a block away, before both are stuffed full of picked-up trash.  There are garbage pails each block, where the trail crosses a street, yet these lazy swine can’t wait even that long.  Some clean up after their dogs…. and then toss the compostable bags into the undergrowth.  Some of them hang up on bushes, making them look like Bizarro Christmas trees.

Forty years ago, one of the city’s mottos was, Kitchener – Klean As A Kitchen.  More recently, one of the local newspaper wags has suggested, Kitchener – Klean As A Kow-shed.  Spanking unruly children is no longer allowed, but I’d like to take a few of these Bandersnatches out behind the woodpile, and introduce their posteriors to a good length of flat maple.  Would you like to watch the YouTube video?  👿

WOW #70

I was recently reading an historical novel.  In it, a commoner performed an uncommon act of intelligence and bravery.  As a reward for this selfless act, the Grand Panjandrum – or Grand Poobah – they both indicate a pretentious or self-important official, like a High Muckedy-Muck, bestowed upon him the reward of a

Carucate
[keyr-oo-kate, (yoo)]

Because I was reading a dead-tree book, I couldn’t just tap the Kindle screen to find out what a carucate was.  I had to play Twenty Questions until I got upstairs to the computer.  Was it a gem – a jewel, like the Blue Carbuncle in the Sherlock Holmes novel?  Was it a lavish dinner in his honor?  Was it a warm, if not willing, bed-companion?  Was it a mani-pedi down at Omar’s Tent and Sail Shop, and Spa?  Don’t ask – don’t tell.   😉 

It turns out that it’s another archaic measurement quantity, equal to 40 acres of land, or a quarter-section – one quarter of a square mile.  It was the amount of land that a team of oxen could plow, and the amount of tilled land that it took to produce enough food for a farm family.

While the measurement is described as square, especially those with water frontage, were a mile long, and a quarter-mile wide, farming spaghetti, or rhubarb.  It was hard to turn an ox-team and unwieldy plow around. It was easier to let the team catch their breath, and just start another furrow in a straight line, for eight furlongs, and this gave more tenants shipping/travel access . Quebec’s Eastern Townships, in Canada are like this, only larger, all fronting on the St. Lawrence River, and looking like a bowling alley on a map. 

Was it possible that this Grand Vizier – Why do all these $3 potentates describe their titles as Grand??! – wanted this potter…. or leather-worker…. to leave the city, and become just another subsistence farmer??  He could sell it, or lease it to a share-cropper.  At least he took his dictionary along, and I learned a new old word.  😀

What’s It Worth?

I was just lounging in a big tub of nostalgia.  (Do I still have any on me?
When I was a kid, a dollar meant something, and there weren’t very many millionaires.

First, the farthing (quarter-penny) disappeared – then the half-pence – now, Canada’s penny is no more.  As inflation lops off the bottom, it piles more on top that we soon get used to.

I recently had the chance to re-watch the old movie, The Girl, The Gold Watch, And Everything.  The hero is accused of absconding with$27,000,000.  At first, I couldn’t understand the fuss that was being made.  Now, twenty-seven million is a nice piece of pocket-change.  As the embezzling Congressman said, “A million here – a million there – pretty soon it starts to add up.”  Pretty soon, mere millionaires are a dime-a-dozen.

The son dug out and lent me the John D. MacDonald book that the movie was based on.  He had the 1980, movie-novelization copy, but the book was originally written in 1962.  An online conversion site showed me that One 1962 Dollar – is worth $9.83 today.  The missing 27 million would be worth over a quarter of a $BILLION in 2021 – now that’s worth getting upset about.

This all reminded me of a television show that aired from 1955 to 1960, titled The Millionaire.  Each week, multi-millionaire John Beresford Tipton, had an agent GIVE a cashier’s cheque for $1,000,000 to someone he had chosen.  Tipton’s socio-psychological curiosity was the reason that the show then followed each recipient, to see what they did with the money.

One man who had lost his wife, was despondent, and convinced that he would never find such a love again.  He took a round-the-world cruise, met a sweet, young, available thing onboard, and it all worked out with soap-opera predictability.  One million, back then, would be the equivalent of $10/12 Million today.  The interest alone would accumulate so fast that they never need get off the ship, except to purchase a Rolls-Royce for each port.

The running gag in this show was that, like Charlie, in Charlie’s Angels, except for a hand passing off the cheque at the beginning of each show…. We never saw Tipton, and yet, when I went to research the show, there was a listing for Peter Frees – as Tipton

I had forgotten that voice actors get credits also.  Peter Frees is the most famous person that you’ve never seen.  He actually did three unseen voices during this series.  He has lent his dulcet tones to dozens of video games and dozens of animated movies.  His list of voice credits is longer than the late, great Mel Blanc – Ehhhhh, what’s up with that, Doc?

’20 A To Z Challenge – Z

And the First shall be Last, and Last shall be First.  At last we are approaching the first of a new alphabet challenge – But first, the word

ZENOSYNE

zenosyne – The sense that time keeps going faster. .Coined in 2012 by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, https://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/ a project to create a compendium of invented words for every emotion we might all experience but don’t yet have a word for.  And Keta – an image that inexplicably leaps back into your mind from the distant past.  Koinophobhia – the fear that one may have lived an ordinary life.  Wytai – feature(s) of modern life that one may consider absurd, like zoos, drinking milk, or organ transplants. 

Morii is the desire to capture a fleeing experience, something we try to do incessantly every waking minute of our lives these days, with Instagram stories, photographs, and snaps.  Lacheism is a longing for clarity of a disaster or apocalypse.  Lilo is a friendship that can lie dormant for years only to pick right back up instantly, as if no time had passed since you last saw each other.  Astrophe – the feeling of being stuck on earth when there is an entire universe or beyond to explore.  Modus tollens – is the feeling that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense any more. 

Onism is the realization of how little of the world you will experience.  Socha is the hidden vulnerability of others.  Lutalica is the part of your personality that doesn’t fit into categories.  Vemödalen is the fear that everything has already been done, and Avenoir is the desire to see memories in advance. 

We take it for granted that life moves forward.  But you move as a rower moves – facing backward.  You can see where you’ve been, but not where you are going.  And your boat is steered by a younger version of you.  It is hard not to wonder what life would be like, facing the other way.

Klexos is the art of dwelling on the past.  Your life is written in indelible ink.  There’s no going back to erase the past, tweak the mistakes, or fill in the missed opportunities.  When the moment’s over, your fate is sealed.

Xeno is the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a flirtatious glance, a sympathetic nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence—moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of feeling alone.

Mahpiohanzia is the disappointment of being unable to fly.  Being unable to stretch out your arms and vault into the air, having finally shrugged off the ballast of your own weight and ignited the fuel tank of unfulfilled desires you’ve been storing up since before you were born.

Trumspringa is the temptation to step off your career track and become a shepherd in the mountains, following your flock between pastures with a sheepdog and a rifle, watching storms at dusk from the doorway of a small cabin, just the kind of hypnotic diversion that allows your thoughts to make a break for it and wander back to their cubicles in the city.

Kairosclerosis is the moment you realize that you’re currently happy—consciously trying to savor the feeling—which prompts your intellect to identify it, pick it apart and put it in context, where it will slowly dissolve until it’s little more than an aftertaste.

Sonder – the realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as yours
Opia – The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
Monachopsis – The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

Kenopsia – The forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people, but is now abandoned.

Mauerbauer-Traurigkeit – The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends that you like.

Énouement – The bitter-sweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.
Vellichor – The strange wistfulness of used-book shops.

Anticipointment – The sinking feeling when anticipation fails to be the greater part of pleasure.
Jouska – A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

This man obviously had way too much time, sitting by himself in the attic.  I don’t know whether he should have taken more drugs – or less.  At least he got an entire book out of it – portions of which I have stolen researched, and used for free, for this post.

The same old alphabet begins with brand-new words in a couple of weeks.  This year, C may be for Compulsive.

Book Review #24

I just read the most sumptuous book.  It was as rich and satisfying as a slab of red velvet cake.

The book: The Boat of a Million Years

The author: Poul Anderson

The review: There are only seven story plots.  All of the millions of novels are just variations and combinations on those themes.  This one is a reworking of the movie Highlander, which was released 2 years before this was published in 1989.  I got a cheap 2004 Kindle re-release, while I was COVID-isolating.  The immortals can be killed.  It’s just that they heal quickly and totally.  They survive and recover from, wounds that would slay a normal person.

It’s ‘like’ a time-travel novel, but the travel is all from past, to the future.  Perhaps once per century, a person is born who does not age and die.  Unlike the Off With Her Head movie story, this book is about survival.  The author wants to show that, while these people are different from the rabble in one way, they are quite the same in others, and different from each other.

It is not at all like several other ‘ray-guns and space-ships’ books of this author’s that I have.  He treads lightly, but shows the historical foolishness of religions, when viewed over hundreds, or thousands of years

The most common, though not universal, drive is to find others of their kind.  A Turkish trader in post-Roman Britain spends parts of several decades finding an immortal Norse warrior.  When he finally locates him, he offers him partnership in a safe venture and way of life that will guarantee them both great wealth and political power.  The Viking turns him down, and walks away.  Several years later, he hears that the berserker died in an epic battle.

It takes over a century for a Mesopotamian ship-fleet owner to locate another male.  When he does, the outgoing extrovert is dismayed to find a reclusive milquetoast who is content to follow, and allow someone else to make decisions and take care of him.

Some of the men make the obvious search for females of their kind, for wives/companions, and to find if two immortals would produce immortal offspring.  They don’t.  After several more centuries, the pair locate an immortal woman in Rome.  Pointing out the gender inequality, she has advanced from prostitute, to madam, to courtesan, where she creates great wealth through pillow-talk investments.

Even before computers, birth certificates or accurate census forms, it was not a good idea to remain in one location with one name, for more than a couple of decades, lest the superstitious populace grow suspicious.  The trader suggests that they move back to Nineveh, or Tyre, and sells off his ships and cargoes, converting them to a more easily transported chest, full of gold and jewels.  Her history made her distrust all men, so she betrays them.  The two men escape with their lives, but lose the fortune which takes the one a century to recoup.

This is a psychological and sociological account.  With no ‘action’ to spur the plot, there is no urgency to rush this deep and lengthy book along.  The author has the time and opportunity to compose it like a story from the Golden Age of Literature, of a hundred or two-hundred years ago.  It is rich, luxurious, and full-bodied.

The construction was intriguing and complex, occasionally non-linear.  The history and geography were informative, well-researched, and wide-ranging.  The words were substantive, and often archaic.  There was hardly a page where I wasn’t poking the Kindle screen for a definition.  Words and phrases like, limned, bedizened courtesan, uxorious, an austere magus, lineaments, indolent insolence and caparisoned, peered from almost every page.  For a word-nerd like me, it was Nirvana.

Reading this book was like wearing a silk shirt and walking barefoot across a Persian carpet, while eating a filet mignon.  It was rewarding and satisfying on several simultaneous levels.  I was delighted with the social and personal insights that the mere-mortal author provided.

A Love Of Reading

Even for a grumpy, retired old dude like me, with nothing much to do, COVID-infested infected 2020 provided me with a little extra time to read ‘em and reap.  I thought that I was doing well, but….  The son swore off TV some years ago, and spends all his spare time reading – something.  He still reads the occasional dead-tree book, but gets most of his from Kindle Unlimited.  Kindle keeps track of how many books he has read – and reread.  In 2019, he went through 152.  During Apocalypse 2020, his list numbered 213.  I recently went to bed.  By the time I arose, eight hours later, he’d (re)read 3 books.
I only got these 37.

Hawking dumbed down ‘A Brief History of Time’ enough that I understood a lot of it. Mlodinow further simplified the concepts, in this version.

Book number 6 of The Expanse series. I am currently watching my way through series number five, on Amazon Prime

Interstellar Sci-Fi, with magic. Thanx to the son for introducing me to this series.

A time-filling men’s adventure book

A little bit of spaceships and ray-guns Sci-Fi

Alternate-Earth, with magic. Second book, Red Magic will be in this year’s list.

More Action/Adventure

A Sci-Fi book about time travel. One of several read last year.

A stand-alone book from these author’s ‘Magic” series, explaining some plot focus changes, and allowing for the beginning of a new series.

A murder mystery from fellow blogger K J Ivany. A post about this book will soon follow.

The culmination of the ‘Magic’ series. Swords, vampires, shapeshifter were-animals, and various monsters. It’s been fun.

Book #2, mate to last year’s ‘Saints.’

Book number five of The Expanse Series – the one I’m currently streaming. Thanx BrainRants – great reading, and watching.

Bourne Identity type of men’s action/adventure

Another in The Innkeeper, ‘Sweep’ series. This husband/wife writing team are almost as prolific as Isaac Asimov, with four series and several singletons.

More mindless men’s adventure. I am highly qualified.

Another Jack Reacher book. Another in the series has just been released for this year’s reading. As Clive Cussler passed his series on to his son, so has Lee Child passed his on to his son.

Tom Clancy’s heirs just passed the writing of the Jack Ryan series on to a committee of commercial writers.

Same series – different author

An invading alien machine makes the gods of Greece, Egypt and Rome real for those trapped inside a reality bubble.

If one was fun – and more importantly – sold, let’s trap another group with the Norse gods.

One of several ‘Classic’ Sci-Fi books that I reread. A book review will soon follow.

I realized that I had not read this book in the 1960s, so I bought it from Kindle for $1.99.

For the same two bucks, Star Rangers (above), came attached to this book, which I had read in the mid-’60s, titled ‘The Last Planet.’ As a matched pair, this second novel now makes more sense.

Eight millennia-old immortals among us, and how they have dealt with change. Another upcoming book review will tell you how.

Historical/urban fiction to pass the time

More Sci-Fi rereading. I originally read this, titled as ‘The Junkyard Planet.’ How to pull a failed world up by its financial bootstraps.

More interesting men’s action/adventure to pass the time. The first of another series which I believe I have to thank River Girl for introducing me to. The rest will help keep me busy in 2021.

Another reread from the ’60s. Urban fiction which barely qualifies as Sci-Fi because a man finds a way to get rich through industrial espionage, by inventing a device which allows him to move about, unseen and unstopped, while time stands still for everyone else.

More historical/urban fiction. They contain a pleasant amount of fascinating trivia.

Not much blood and guts, but lots of brains and gunplay. Solid story arc and character development.

Were the ten plagues of Egypt actually real?? Is the entire biome of the Earth a semi-sentient, interlocked, Gaia-type entity? Dunno! But it makes good reading.

Another ghost-writer, for Clive Cussler, presents a period-piece action/adventure whose hero is an early 20th century detective, reminiscent of the real Alan Pinkerton.

Time travel without leaving home. Bits and pieces of geography and time periods are inexplicably swirled together. Can our hero figure out how to put it all back where/when it belongs?

Centuries of life through organ transplants for planetary monarchs, but not for the their subjects. A topic brought up in this ’60s novel. The author also wrote the 1776/1976 American Bicentennial Saga series. If I read this book soon after its release, I don’t remember it. It was a pleasant discovery in a storage box.

At least one book to reinforce my lack of belief in the supernatural/religion. A disappointing little 156-page novelette with several passages repeated in different chapters.  Trying to justify his position through  philosophy and logic – and failing miserably.  As dry and tasteless as Muffets.

COVID19 should have given most of you some extra time this past year to read.  Aside from my magnificent prose, did you encounter anything morally or intellectually uplifting?

Looking At More One-Liners

A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall….
….Police are looking into it

I would tell you a COVID joke….
….But it would take you two weeks to get it.

If you jumped off a bridge in Paris….
….You’d be in Seine

No matter how much you push the envelope….
….It will still be stationery

The fattest knight at King Arthur’s table was Sir Cumference….
….He got that way from too much pi

Two silkworms had a race….
….They both ended up in a tie

When the cannibals ate the missionary….
….They got a taste of religion

Einstein developed a theory about space….
….And it was about time, too

I saw a dwarf climbing down a prison wall….
….I thought, that’s a little condescending.

I went into a book store, and asked if they had anything on turtles….
….”Hardback?”

I like to have my cake, and eat it too….
….I’d also like to have your cake and eat it too.

An Optimist laughs to forget….
….A Pessimist forgets to laugh.

I am a mental tourist….
….My mind wanders.

The closest to perfect a person ever comes….
….Is when they fill out a job application.

Statistics say that 1 out of 3 people in a relationship are unfaithful….
….I need to figure out if that’s my wife or my girlfriend.

A store clerk fought off an armed robber with a pricing gun….
….Police are looking for a man with a price on his head.

I know the voices in my head aren’t real….
….But sometimes they have great ideas.

My girlfriend said she got a tattoo of a chameleon….
….I don’t see it

I haven’t lost all my marbles….
….But there’s definitely a hole in the bag.

How many general-relativity theoreticists does it take to change a light bulb?….
….Two.  One to hold the bulb and one to rotate space.

Why can’t you take electricity to social outings?….
….Because it doesn’t know how to conduct itself.

What did the male magnet say to the female magnet?….
….Seeing you from the back, I thought you were repulsive. But seeing you from the front, I find you rather attractive.

What did one uranium-238 nucleus say to the other?….
….Gotta split.

I was gonna go on a diet….
….But I’ve got too much on my plate right now.

The technical name for a coffee at work….
….is, Break Fluid.

 

’20 A To Z Challenge – U

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s New Pussycat? Whoaoo-oaoo-oaoo-whoa!  Tom Jones says, It’s Not

UNUSUAL

to hit a bit of writers block, but that’s old news.

What is also not unusual is that, like many other entertainment personalities, the Welsh singer, TOM JONES, isn’t.  He is Sir Thomas John Woodward OBE.  Jones is the most common Welsh surname, although there does not seem to be any among his immediate ancestors.

I can find no proof that he assumed the name Tom Jones because of a desire to reference the raunchy 1749 English novel with that name, which enjoyed a resurgence and republishing, just as he was beginning his public career.

Still, at the height of his popularity, inside industry observers estimated that he was having sex with up to 250 female fans per year.  His son/manager says that he is astounded and embarrassed that even into his 60s and 70s, female audience members were throwing panties with their phone number onstage.

So, I you got screwed without even a kiss, because Creativity bailed out and went for a beer, Desperation moved into the pilot’s seat, and barely landed a post with a U word in it.

I could go on a #MeToo rant, about guys like Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Peter Nygard, Jeffrey Epstein, Randy Prince Andy, Keith Raniere and Bill Cosby.  Men like this regard themselves, and are regarded by others, as alpha males, somehow entitled to unlimited sex with an unlimited number of females.  Sadly, these actions and attitudes are also not unusual.  Cosby’s only difference was that he had a kink where he preferred his victims unconscious.  All they have done is bring the concept of droit du seigneur up to date into the modern, electronic age.

I won’t do that (Too late!) because this post is already too depressing.  I’ll have something a little more upbeat in a couple of days.  C U then.  😀

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One – III

Why did the chicken cross the lexicon?  To get to the other side of the dictionary.
What’s the good word?  All of them.  Look out vocabulary, here they come.

Adjutant – Adjutant is a military appointment given to an officer who assists the commanding officer with unit administration, mostly the management of human resources in army unit.

Argute – Sharp, perceptive, shrewd. Origin: from Latin argutus, past participle of arguere ‘clarify’….

Bamboozle – to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like; humbug; hoodwink (often followed by into): to perplex; mystify; confound.

Bamboozle is one of those words that has been confounding etymologists for centuries. No one knows for sure what its origins are. One thing we do know is that it was originally considered “low language,” at least among such defenders of the language as British satirist Jonathan Swift, who hoped (and predicted) that it would quickly fade from the English lexicon.
The earliest meaning of bamboozle was “to deceive by trickery, hoodwink,” which is why some believe that it arose among the criminals of the underworld.

Clusterfist – First found in the 1600s, clusterfist can refer to a few types of disappointing individuals. In one sense, cluster means clumsy, and a clusterfist is a type of oaf or boor.  Clusterfist in Community Dictionary is someone who is “tighter than Kelsey’s peanuts” regarding parting with a buck; a parsimonious peckerhead.

A young Black woman recently wrote about how shocked and embarrassed she was to find that her name, Ebony, was a porn category.  😯  EVERYTHING is a porn category.  The modern definition of clusterfist is a fisting of someone simultaneously by over 6 individuals usually leading to severe pain and hilarity at just what a muppet that individual had been for agreeing.

Coracle – (especially in Wales and Ireland) a small round boat made of wickerwork covered with a watertight material, propelled with a paddle.

Frangible – fragile · breakable · brittle – easily broken · easily damaged · delicate · flimsy · insubstantial

Friable – easily crumbled – powdery – dusty – chalky

Futz – Informal futz (around) with, to handle or deal with, especially idly, reluctantly, or as a time-consuming task

Glassine – Glassine is a smooth and glossy paper that is air, water, and grease resistant.  Another Technological obsolescence term, while still available, almost every use of glassine has been replaced by ubiquitous plastic.

Insouciant – free from concern, worry or anxiety – carefree – nonchalant

Intrepid – resolutely fearless, dauntless, daring, bold
If you haven’t, you can read a book titled A Man Called Intrepid, about which, several historians claim that he fudged the facts about his intrepid WWII British Intelligence career.

Keloid – an area of irregular fibrous tissue formed at the site of a scar or injury.

Lieutenant – a deputy or substitute, acting for a superior – from French, lieu – in place of, tenant – holding

Logorrhea – pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech – incessant or compulsive talkativeness – wearisome volubility  Therefore, a Logo is a symbol which constantly ‘speaks’ for its corporation.

Melmac – For those of you TV snobs and binge-watchers, who thought that Melmac was only the home planet of ALF, it is actually a brand of dinnerware moulded from melamine resin, popular in the mid-twentieth centuryThat’s the stuff that the Chinese tried to poison us with, by putting it baby formula and pet food, before they unleashed COVID19 on us.

Rapacious – practicing pillage or rapine, greedy or grasping, (of animals, esp. birds) subsisting by catching living prey, ravenous, voracious  (Does it remind you of any politicians you know?)

Scree – a mass of small loose stones that form or cover a slope on a mountain.  That is the normal definition, but since the word was found in a poem which included screeching seagulls, it is onomatopoeia for their cries.

Scritch – Speaking of seagulls and onomatopoeia, depending on how and where it is used, it is a dialect form of either screech, or scratch.
It’s also something that my cats and dogs climb into my lap, to demand from me.

Scumble – Verb: To modify (a painting or color) by applying a very thin coat of opaque paint to give a softer or duller effect.  Noun: a thin, opaque coat of paint or layer of shading applied to give a softer or duller effect.

Shambolic – Shambolic, “disorganized; messy or confused,” is a colloquial adjective, used mostly by the British. The word is a combination of shambles and symbolic. Shambolic is a fairly recent coinage, entering English about 1970.

Tartuffery – religious hypocrisy, or pretention to excellence in any field

Truculent – adj: eager or quick to argue or fight, aggressively defiant

Varlet – a knavish person; a rascal, a menial servant, a knight’s page
Origin of varlet: 1425–75; late Middle English < Middle French; variant of valet

’20 A To Z Challenge – Q

My mind grinds fine, but exceeding slow.

The lesson for today is taken from the Second Book of Archon, Chapter II: Verse 6.  Words beginning with the letter Q, while a bit more plentiful than those with X, Y, or Z, are not thick on the ground.  The word of the day is

QUERN

a primitive, hand-operated mill for grinding grain.

The first time the wife and I went to Charleston, SC, we continued on past to visit the Middleton Plantation.  Yankee troops burned the original mansion down.  All that remains are the stone and concrete veranda, and the slaves’ quarters at one end.  These now comprise a small museum, and the living quarters of the current owners.

Still, the building is larger than many homes in upscale, gated communities.  I can only imagine how grand and epic the original structure must have been.  Included in the museum are three Faberge eggs – one complete, and two missing their internal hidden treasures.

The plantation sits beside a long stretch of slow, shallow, river.  The biggest cash crop was rice, but, up on the flats, cotton was grown as well, along with fruits and vegetables for sale, and to feed the residents.

Huge amounts of corn flour and corn meal were required to supply annual dietary needs.  The river could not be used to drive a mill, so dried corn was fed into small hand mills – querns – and ground down.  Adult and adolescent slaves were needed for other plantation tasks.  This job usually fell to Negro tweens.  A hardwood dowel handle was inserted into the upper mill half, and children spent ten or twelve hours a day – alternating arms, turning and turning and turning….

Not to downplay the evils of slave ownership, but poor white folks – and free Negroes in the North – used to face mind-numbing, and body breaking, drudgery to keep themselves alive and fed.  The modern motorized technology has replaced most of these types of onerous tasks, but has made many first-world citizens physically soft and weak.  To achieve what honest labor used to provide, it has been replaced by ‘The Gym.’  Run 5K on a treadmill – but don’t actually get anywhere.   😯