Flash Fiction #223

Inspiration

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

WHERE’S WALDO?

What’s here? Typewriter? Check. As old as me, but in better shape.
Coffee to rev me up – wine to smooth me out.
Notepad and pencil. Check.
Dictionary? Bah, I know the meaning of every word.
Enough light for old eyes. Cozy work desk!
Something’s missing!

I know! Two things – me…. and Inspiration.
What’s this??! Rochelle wrote two FFs? So, that’s where MY inspiration went. Erato, you traitor! I’m gonna binge watch The Masked Singer till you get back. Sarah Palin says her performance was the craziest thing she’s ever done. She apparently forgets, “I can see Russia from my house.” 😳

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

’19 A To Z Challenge – X

Shrew

Why are women and children evacuated first in an emergency?
So that the men can think.

philosopher

I’m not saying that every wife is a shrew, nor that there are no husbands who need the occasional bit of constructive nagging. I am a case in point. For every testosterone-poisoned dolt who slaps, pushes, or punches his wife, there is a shrill-voiced termagant whose tongue can etch glass. Sometimes they are married couples who deserve each other, and it is the neighbors who suffer. Let me introduce you to

XANTHIPPE

Shrewish wife of Socrates
an ill-tempered woman

While history records her as being a nagging shrew, it is not complete enough to make clear what caused her ill temper. There are records of Socrates helping the widow of a friend, but help seems to be all he did. Perhaps she felt that he was spending too much time down at the Acropolis with the boys, running the country, when he should have been at home, running his estate.

Some while ago, the BBC presented a show titled “Rumpole of the Bailey.” It centered on a 1950s/60s British barrister (lawyer). He was intelligent, educated, and could have been far richer and more famous if he hadn’t been saddled with ethics.

He could often be seen working into the night for a client, or hanging out at a cheap bar down the street. He was asked why he didn’t go home. The running joke was that he had a wife, named Hilda, but she was never seen.

He preferred the long hours and the bad booze, to going home to her. Like Xanthippe, he referenced H. Rider Haggard’s novel, and called her, “She Who Must Be Obeyed”, only, if he didn’t go home, he didn’t have to obey.

This is the end of the fourth year of the A To Z Challenge, and available words for the letters at the end of the alphabet grow scarce. If I accept the challenge again in April, next year, for the letter X, I think I’m down to X-Men, and Xerox machines – and I don’t know which I know less about.

May I Have Another Word?

Stunned Emoji

PROS

Slithers of tectonic plates were driven down – They slithered to the dictionary page with slivers on it.

The wide birth of the cave is peculiar – A woman with large hips would give it a wide berth.

Brian slipped out of the in – English classes were being held at the inn.

A grizzly murder had been committed – apparently by a bear. That misspelling is just grisly.

‘Fast And Furious’s a suped– up series – No soup for you till you learn to spell it.

Roberts County Spelllimg Bee – We’re paying some teachers wayyy too much.

Looking for a Labary Assistant to work in the College Labaries – An applicant will never find it, spelled like that.

Why are the edges of coins rigid? – The entire coins are rigid. Only the edges are ridged.

AMATEURS

arguments against same-sex mirage – In many Bible-belt areas, that’s all same-sex marriage is.

Catholic Church hired a loyer – Shoulda hired an English teacher

Those cowereds will not debate real Christians – Maybe I’m a coward cuz I cowered when I read that

Self-sufficiency is tooted as a good thing – Literacy is also touted as a good thing.

Such coal-hearted policies give me a bad name – Santa gives you coal, but he’s not cold-hearted

A ballistic midsole attack – apparently, someone’s throwing shoes at us

As though of us were taught – Those of us who listened in school, know otherwise

Ajan 007 always gets the girl – Perhaps his agent could help him spell it

I’m of Caribbean decent – and your English usage has gone down also

Like Bell, from Beauty and the Beast – The belle of this bawl, is a ding-dong.

I want to see the I fold tower in Paris – see it quick, before it collapses

Your maken yourself look bad – but not as bad as you’re makin’ that misusage look

Well, this is akward – it would be a lot less awkward if you put another W in it

I don’t sensor his Twitter account – You should censor your own, or at least proofread it.

I needed to look for I’dI’d suggest that you look for it

For sale – crystal shandaler – It’s crystal-clear, he doesn’t know what a chandelier is.

For sale – full set of Hooked On Phoenix – I prefer Cincinnati, where I got hooked on phonics.

Freud spoke of bewaring of crusaders – These are how new words reach the language

I don’t deserve the commisery – non-standard portmanteau of misery, and commiseration. – see above

The rain runs down the ease-drop – actually, it runs down the downspout, from the eaves-trough

Crosswords

Rug, slangily = toupee – No! No! No! Toupee, slangily, is a rug, but not the other way around.

Nautical time unit = bell – A bell (or bells) is a point in time. It is no more a “time unit, than two o’clock is.

Addenda

“It’s unclear how serious the driver’s injuries were after the driver was passed on to Waterloo Regional paramedics.” The driver received injuries after the paramedics arrived?? Did they drop the gurney as they were putting him into the ambulance? And I don’t think that I like the term ‘passed on’ and ‘paramedics’ in the same sentence.

“Speed, impaired driving, distracted driving, and not wearing seatbelts are the “fatal four” causes of such crashes, police say.” Unfastened seatbelts cause accidents?? Only if you’re not wearing one, spot a roadside checkpoint, and glance down to put it on.

 

WOW #53

Hillbilly Couple

Englishman Umbrella

The smartest British archeologist on the Time Team talks like an American redneck. Lost letters, missing punctuation, and strange pronunciations (even for a Brit) litter his speech patterns, which were already set, in up-country Yorkshire, before he got an amazing education.

If he and his trusty trowel happen upon a particularly interesting/significant find, he is apt to burst out with

STONE THE CROWS!

An exclamation of incredulity or annoyance.

There are some words and phrases which dictionaries just cannot prove the origin of, like “rule of thumb.” That problem interests me, because this one is so new. The British OED claims that it is an American culturalism. Merriam-Webster insists that it is a British phrase. When they can’t fault each other, they blame it on the Australians.

There have been a few attempts to explain the origin of this odd phrase. A croze is the groove at the end of a wooden barrel that holds the end plate in place. It has been suggested that the expression was previously stow (or stove) the croze, that is, break open the barrel. I can find no supporting evidence for that idea though and have to consign it to the realms of folk-etymology. The more prosaic suggestion – that it alludes to the practice of throwing stones at crows – is much more likely.

I’ve found mid-20th century references from England that describe it as an Americanism and American newspaper articles that call it ‘an old English phrase’. The dates of those are more or less right but not the locations – the phrase appears to have originated in Australia. Most of the early citations in print come from down under. It has a sort of Australian twang to it and is in common with several other similar phrases, all with the same meaning: starve the bardies [bardies are grubs], stiffen the crows, spare the crow.

Crows were unwelcome guests at sheep farms as, given the chance, they will kill and eat newborn lambs, so the association with annoyance isn’t hard to see. The link in meaning to surprise isn’t obvious, but then there’s no particular reason to expect to find one. Stoning crows was a commonplace enough activity and calling it up into a phrase could have been done for no reason other than that the person who coined it just liked the sound of it. There are other expressions of surprise or annoyance like I’ll go to the foot of our stairs, strike me pink, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle or if that don’t take the rag off the bush. None Most of these don’t have any sensible literal meaning and stone the crows is another to add to that list.

Take the rag off the bush” actually dates to before households had laundry dryers, or even outdoor lines to hang it on. Large items like bed sheets or blankets were often draped over shrubs or bushes to dry in the sun and breeze. If a strong-enough gust of wind came along, it could blow the ‘rag’ off the bush, and down the street, into the dust or mud, and it would have to be washed (by hand) all over again.

I Didn’t Mean That

Contradiction II

Here’s a list of words that don’t mean what they used to.

  1. Nice

The original meaning of nice used to be, well, not so nice. The adjective actually comes from the Latin word “nescius,” meaning “unaware” or “ignorant.” When it was picked up by the English language in the early 1300s, it described a “stupid, ignorant, or foolish” person. Ouch!

2. Awful

Nowadays, if you say something is awfulyou’re not being kind. However, back in the day, it was actually a term that people used to praise things, seeing as it literally meant that someone or something was “worthy of awe.” As awful became more negative, the word awesome largely replaced it in terms of its original meaning.

3. Flirt

Flirting with someone in today’s sense is what most people would consider to be flattering. However, if you were to flirt with someone based on the word’s original meaning, then what you’re doing is less sweet and more savage. Back in the 1500s when this term was coined, it was actually used to describe a quick motion or jerk—something like a flick

4. Cheater

Centuries ago, the term cheater was used to describe the royal officers who looked after the king’s escheats, or the land he acquired when someone died without a legal heir. However, because of the shady ways these officers went about their jobs, the word “cheater” eventually became synonymous with someone who lies, tricks, and defrauds—and this is how we define the word today.

5. Egregious

When someone describes something as egregious, they are trying to say that it stands out—and not in a good way. However, when it was first coined, the word actually meant the exact opposite. According to Merriam-Webster, the adjective was once used as a compliment to describe someone “who had a remarkably good quality that placed him or her eminently above others.”

6. Naughty

In the 1300s, people who were naughty had naught, or “nothing.” In other words, they were poor. Nowadays, however, the word is used to describe someone not as poor, but as evil or improper.

7. Terrible

The original meaning of the word terrible is similar to its definition today, only way more extreme. When you described something as terrible back in the day, it meant that it caused genuine fits of terror; today, people use it to describe anything that’s mildly bad.

8. Bully

No one wants to be called a bully—unless you’re using its original meaning, that is. In the archaic sense, bully means “sweetheart,” as it was derived from the Dutch word for lover, and for a while meant excellent, or splendid. Think Teddy Roosevelt, and his, “Bully, bully, bully!”
(David Bowie’s song, Fame has the line, “Bully for you, chilly for me.”)

9. Silly

The word silly has seen quite a few definitions throughout history. Derived from Old English, the adjective has been used over the years to mean everything from “happy” and “fortunate” to “innocent.” Eventually, though, the word somehow became synonymous with ignorance, thus bringing us to its current meaning of “foolish.”

10. Dapper

If you’re a stylish, neatly groomed man, someone today might call you a Dapper Dan. However, if you were to use the word according to its original meaning, then this wouldn’t make sense. Seeing as it’s derived from the German word tapfer for “brave,” dapper was originally used to describe someone as bold and daring—not in their fashion choices, but in their endeavors and undertakings.

11. Fantastic

Fantastic is an adjective used to describe something that is extraordinarily good. However, seeing as it was derived from the Latin word phantasticus—meaning “imaginary”—this word was originally used to describe something that only exists in the imagination. So, technically, a unicorn would be fantastic in either sense of the word!

12. Artificial

When something today is described as artificial, it’s usually a far cry from what’s considered a masterful creation. However, that’s exactly what the adjective used to refer to. If something was artificial back in the day, it was artfully or skillfully constructed.

13. Brave

Being called brave is quite the praise by today’s standards. But the word’s original definition—which is “showy” or “gaudy”—is much less complimentary.

14. Girl

A young female is typically referred to as a girl today. However, when the word was first used in the Middle Ages, it referred to any young person, regardless of their gender.

15. Guy

Guy, man, dude, fellow—they’re all monikers used to refer to the male species. However, you wouldn’t want to just throw the word guy around back in the day; in the 1800s, it was used to describe a person of grotesque appearance.

16. Clue

If someone were to give you a clue today, they would be giving you a hint about something. However, when the word was first coined, someone who was giving out clues was actually giving out something more tangible: balls of yarn, now spelled ‘clews’.

17. Manufacture

Manufactured, when used in its original sense, describes something that has been produced by hand. However, today, people generally describe something as manufactured when it has been mass-produced in a factory by machinery.

18. Nervous

There are a lot of things that can make someone nervous nowadays: job interviews, talking to someone they’re attracted to, public speaking… the list goes on and on. In the 1600s, however, nervous in this context wouldn’t make sense, seeing as it was originally used to described someone who possessed great strength.

19. Passenger

If you’re a passenger, you’re just someone who’s along for the ride. However, the original meaning of the word passenger is someone who is traveling, fleeting, or just passing by, typically by foot.

20. Pretty

The term pretty is derived from various words in other languages that meant “cunning,” “tricky,” and “skillful”—and therefore, it makes sense that the adjective was originally used to describe a sly person. Nowadays, however, it’s used to positively describe someone’s appearance rather than their deceitfulness.

21. Radical

Radical is an adjective used to describe anything extreme that shakes up the fundamental nature of something, and it’s typically employed in regards to social or political activism. However, radical actually comes from the Latin word for “rooted,” and it was once used to describe the opposite of extreme: something rooted, basic, and fundamental.

22. Sad

It’s no fun being sad or unhappy. However, it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing to be sad back in the day. In Old English, to be sad meant to be satisfied or content, usually in regards to feeling full from a meal.

23. Success

It’s a good thing to have success nowadays. However, back in the day, it could go either way, seeing as success originally described both positive and negative outcomes alike.

24. Villain

You know a villain as any evil person, typically in a movie, novel, or play. However, in Old English, this word simply referred to anybody who worked on a country estate or villa, such as a farm laborer.

25. Fathom

Today, fathom is just another word for “understand.” But way back when, it was used for measurement purposes and described the length of someone’s outstretched arms (about six feet!). Can you fathom that?

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – T

Eating Contest

Oh, to be able to eat like a teen-ager again: to put away food like we were eating Mom and Dad out of house and home: when my hyper-kinetic lifestyle and metabolism shed calories and pounds like Donald Trump going through White House advisors.

Once upon a time, the majority of people worked for a living. Nowadays, in the First World, the hardest work most of us do is tap a keyboard, whether in an office, or while watching a robot or automated machine do the heavy lifting. Weight loss/control has become an expanding business.

In the auto-parts plant, I moved 9 tons (almost 18,000 pounds) of material per day, by hand, and ate like it. A couple of hundred years ago, that would have been considered the opening act. Those guys needed FOOD to fuel their work. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you

TRENCHERMAN

Not a superhero who lays pipe or cable, but,

a person who has a hearty appetite; a heavy eater.
a person who enjoys food; hearty eater

Origin of trencher

1275–1325; Middle English trenchour something to cut with or on: Anglo-French; Middle French
New French – trancher – board or plank
a rectangular or circular flat piece of wood on which meat, or other food, is served or carved.

The heavy-eating manual laborers who could be described as trenchermen needed something for their food to be served on/in. They could hardly take fine china to their worksite, or even rude pottery. It was often too likely to be broken or lost, and Tupperware© and Rubbermaid© hadn’t been invented yet.

These rough-and-ready laborers got their meals served on rough-and-ready platters, chunks of lumber that didn’t go into the buildings that they were erecting – slivers and splinters just added needed fiber. The nearest modern equivalent is the cardboard pizza box. Although I’d like to, I can’t eat an entire pizza any more – even a small one. Fortunately, Ziploc© has invented plastic bags, in which to save the leftovers for another day.

He left us too soon, partly because of his trencherman actions, but funny-man John Pinette has an amusing YouTube clip, entitled Around The World In 80 Buffets. Drop back in a couple of days. Not too early though, I’ll be over at Shoney’s for their Early Bird Special.   😉

’19 A To Z Challenge – R

-+

AtoZ2019Letter R

 

 

Raven

My grandson asked, When is raven a verb? (With all due apologies to Edgar Allen Poe) When it’s pronounced (rah-ven),
verb (used without object)
to seek plunder or prey.
to eat or feed voraciously or greedily: to raven like an animal.
to seize as spoil or prey.
to devour voraciously.
Noun; rapine; robbery.
plunder or prey.

and it’s a homograph
noun; a word of the same written form as another but of different meaning and usually origin, whether pronounced the same way or not, as bear “to carry; support” and bear “animal” or lead “to conduct” and lead “metal.”

I will read the same book today, that I read last night.

The nurse wound the bandage around his wound.

I had to polish my Polish aunt’s end table.

I demanded that he produce the produce from his farm.

We should refuse to throw refuse out our car windows

He would not desert her, out here in the desert.

We did not present her present last night, so we have to do it today, in the present.

Don’t play your bass while you’re fishing for bass.

She finally had to bow to the inevitable, and buy her son a toy bow and arrow set.

When he dove into the lake, it startled the dove.

I would not object, if that ugly object were removed.

They had a big row over who had to row the boat.

His claim to be an invalid, was proven to be invalid.

Are you close enough to the front door to close it firmly?

After he would mow the lawn, he would mow into a big lunch.

All the deer who came to feed were does. Why does that matter?

The sewer managed to repair the shirt that he had ripped in the sewer.

The old sow had eaten all the seed wheat that he had planned to sow.

If the wind gusts any stronger, it will wind that flag right around the pole.

I just took a real buffet. Some guy almost body-checked me, on my way to the buffet.

If you tear down the sidewalk, you might fall and tear your pants. Then you’ll shed a tear.

I had to scuttle downstairs to add a scuttle of coal to the old furnace, because I didn’t want to scuttle the great party.

I can’t even write a short simple sentence for the word founder. As a noun, it might be a person who starts a town, or a business. Or, it may be a metal-worker who toils in a foundry. As a verb, it means to become wrecked, fail entirely, sink, or fall down.

You cannot subject the Queen’s subject to this kind of questioning.

The author was trying to intimate that the butler had been intimate with Her Ladyship.

I don’t think that most husbands want to converse with their wives during a hockey game. Rather, I believe the converse, that they just want quiet.

Why doesn’t Buick rhyme with quick? For that matter, why isn’t imply pronounced like limply? If a male sheep is called a ram, and a male donkey is called an ass, why is a ram-in-the-ass called a goose?

Somebody goosed me, so I’ll have another post ready in a couple of days. C U   😀

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One

Love English

Words! Words! Words!

Round and round and round they goes. Where they comes from, nobody knows.

Then they impinge on my consciousness, sometimes from what I read, sometimes just from the depths of my own mind.

Looking for a word or two to spice up a novel, an essay, a report, or just a blog-post?? Here are a few that have run across in front of my attention span, like startled squirrels.

Battledore – noun

Also called battledore and shuttlecock. a game from which badminton was developed, played since ancient times in India and other Asian countries.
a light racket for striking the shuttlecock in this game.
a 17th- and 18th-century hornbook of wood or cardboard, used as a child’s primer.
verb (used with or without object), bat·tle·dored, bat·tle·dor·ing.
to toss or fly back and forth:

Bivouac – a military encampment made with tents or improvised shelters, usually without shelter or protection from enemy fire.
The place used for such an encampment.
To rest or assemble in such an area; encamp.

Broch (brock)- a circular stone tower built around the beginning of the Christian era, having an inner and an outer wall, found on the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, the Hebrides, and the mainland of Scotland.
A variant spelling of burgh, or borough – German-influenced Scottish for “independent town”

Calumet – a long-stemmed, ornamented tobacco pipe used by North American Indians on ceremonial occasions, especially in token of peace. – A peace pipe

There used to be a Calumet baking powder, but another of my childhood memories has disappeared under an avalanche of corporate mergers and acquisitions.

Chary – cautious or careful; wary, shy, timid, fastidious, choosy, sparing (often followed by of):
cognate with Old Saxon karag, Old High German karag (German karg scanty, paltry)

Coxcomb – a conceited, foolish dandy; pretentious fop. – the cap, resembling a cockscomb, formerly worn by professional fools.

Dragoon – Noun – (especially formerly) a European cavalryman of a heavily armed troop.
Verb – to force by oppressive measures; coerce

Dumbledore – (for the Harry Potter fans) a bumblebee

Grok – to understand thoroughly and intuitively, to communicate sympathetically. Coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)

Plagal – (of a cadence) progressing from the subdominant to the tonic chord, as in the Amen of a hymn
(of a mode) commencing upon the dominant of an authentic mode, but sharing the same final as the authentic mode. Plagal modes are designated by the prefix Hypo- before the name of their authentic counterparts the Hypodorian mode

Pseud (sood) – A person of fatuously earnest intellectual, artistic, or social pretensions

Scalawag, (scallawag,scallywag )– a scamp, a rascal, a minor rogue

Stolid – not easily stirred or moved mentally; unemotional; impassive.

Thewless – weak, meek, timid (first recorded 1300-50)– from thews, muscle, sinew, physical strength
He was a quiet, thewless, conforming man, who caused no-one any trouble.

Tommyrot – nonsense, utter foolishness

Truculent – fierce; cruel; savagely brutal.
brutally harsh; vitriolic; scathing:
aggressively hostile; belligerent.

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – N

AtoZ2019letter-n

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good morning readers. I’d like to introduce you to Romulus and Remus’ twin sisters

NOCTEM and NOCTIS

Twin Sisters

Noctem is the prettier of the two, but she hasn’t applied for her language passport yet. She’s still Latin, and hasn’t been accepted into English. She’s a party-girl, who hangs out with the likes of Paris Hilton, and Paris Jackson. Her rallying cry and motto is “carpe noctem,” which means ‘seize the night.’ This is like YOLO. Live tonight as if there will be no tomorrow – you know…. a rave.

Noctis is the hard-working, studious one of the pair. Her name means ‘of the night,’ and, being fair-skinned, that’s when she does her best work. She can be found in libraries, university study halls, and 24-hour, McDonald’s drive-thru’s. She’d get more dates if we could convince her to change the spelling of her name to Noctic, to be more adjectival, like ‘frantic’, or ‘dyspeptic.’ I guess not, though. She has a select group of admirers who appreciate her exotic attraction.

I feel kinda sorry for Noctem. When you ‘carpe diem,’ you seize the entire, 24-hour day, but when you ‘carpe noctem,’ you only get the dark part of it. If you do it right though, that’s all you need. Once a king, always a king, but once a knight is enough. 😆

’19 A To Z Challenge – M

McMuffin

I want to talk about

McGuffins.

They’re not those breakfast sandwich things that you get at the Golden Arches.

McGuffin = MacGuffin = Maguffin

Noun; an object or event in a book or a film which serves as the impetus for the plot

Word Origin for McGuffin

C20: coined (c. 1935) by Sir Alfred Hatchplot Hitchcock

Most stories, whether books or movies, have a beginning, middle, and end. Some stories though, have lots of action, and a great climax, but need a boost to get underway.

Dashiell Hammet’s novel, The Maltese Falcon was a great novel of the 20th century. There was lots of action – treachery, deceit, lies, double crosses, assaults, murders, and back-stabbing – literal and figurative. When the exciting ride finally came to a stop, the little sculpture that everyone was fighting and scheming about, was just a small, ugly, statue of a bird, just an excuse for all that excitement.

At the last Star Trek movie that I went to – Star Trek Into Darkness – for the first half hour, I fidgeted and twitched in my seat. Is this thing never going to get underway? I even considered walking out – and I NEVER walk out of a movie, especially a Star Trek.

What should have been served, hot off the griddle, as the McGuffin, the impetus, to catch and hold the viewers’ attention, was dropped cold, an hour and a half later, as a by-then, un-suspenseful and un-dramatic ‘Great Reveal,’ a story of brotherly betrayal, abandonment and revenge.

So remember, those of you who want to write – even if it’s just blog-posts. If you think that your story needs a little something to draw readers’ attention, get that McGuffin out early. Craft a catchy title, and compose an interest-grabbing opening line. Once you’ve got ‘em hooked, you can reel ‘em in.

I’d be reel real happy if you stopped back in a couple of days, for another instalment of Do-It-Yourself Philosophy. Phil will be reel happy too. 😉

Reel