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.

 

Flash Fiction #190

Pin The Tail

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

PUTTING THE FUN IN FUNCTIONAL ALCOHOLIC

I hate to do it to Dorothy, but I just can’t invite her and Greg to these neighborhood barbecues any more….

SOMEBODY KEEP AN EYE ON THE PUNCH BOWL!!

He’s the only guy I know who spikes the vodka – with tequila. He drinks a beer to instigate getting a shot. If I drank that much, I’d be comatose.

And that foul mouth of his…. I think alcohol shorts out his volume control. Kids in the next subdivision are learning dirty words. I’ve never seen him sober. How does he hold a job?

Somebody should pin a tail on that jackass.

***

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

The Rest Of The Story

Llama

….so I says to him, if Bob can walk his albino python up and down the hall on a leash, why can’t I bring in my llama?? It’s an emotional-support animal too!

There’s a game where you and a friend (or a cell phone) are on an elevator with only a floor or two to go, and someone else gets on. You make some mind-boggling statement, like the one above, and then get off at your floor.

WE ALL WANT TO KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY!

Some of you, especially Americans, may have heard the great Paul Harvey’s radio broadcast of that name, where he tells ‘What Else Happened.’  He had a tale of a male British teen with a pure, sweet voice, who sang in the school choir.

One day, he was viciously elbowed in the face during a basketball game, and completely bit off almost an inch of his somewhat long tongue. A doctor sewed up the end of the rest, but told him that he would never sing again.  After he graduated, he became Mick Jagger – lead singer for The Rolling Stones – and that’s the reason for the Rolling Stone logo.

Back in the Stone Ages, when airplanes still had propellers, a young American man accompanied a Catholic bishop on a business trip to Chicago. As they neared O’Hare Airport, the plane was struck by lightning in a powerful storm, and a couple of the engines stopped.

The Captain came on the intercom and said that they might have to ditch. In the row behind the young man were a couple with an 8-year-old girl.  She began screaming and crying, further panicking other passengers.  The young man undid his seatbelt, and turned around, kneeling on his seat.  He began to make strange, funny faces at the little girl, until she, and surrounding passengers, were chuckling and laughing at him.

The engines restarted, they safely landed in Chicago, and Red Skelton went on to a very successful career in comedy.

I’ve had a couple of these cases where I was able to find out the whole story. During my late teens, my younger brother carried on a summer romance with a girl whose family owned a cottage on our beach.  She and her mother stayed all summer, and her father drove in every Friday night after work.

One time, she went home with him for the week. My brother looked forward to her return on Friday night.  When he arrived, she was shaken and sobbing.  Her father had run over and killed, an Indian on the highway through the adjoining reservation.

Later in the summer, I was hanging out with a lad that my Mother had warned me to stay away from. He told me the story of, earlier in the summer, going out to the Res (already risky) and getting drunk with a group of Indian teens – unpredictable, and far riskier.

They were walking beside the highway, facing traffic, when he stumbled into one of them. Instantly angry and irritated, the guy gave him a great shove, and he landed in the ditch.  The force of the push knocked the other drunken teen over backward….right into the path of the oncoming car.

I took my car to a mechanic for service. He also worked on the personal car of an Ontario Provincial Police officer.  His patrol area was down the big highway, almost to the airport on the edge of Toronto.  He told my tech a story.

One night, around 3 AM, he was sitting in a turn-around, with his radar gun aimed back up the road. At that time, the highway was almost empty.  Suddenly, a set of headlights appeared.  That in itself is unusual, because lights usually start as a distant glow, and increase.

The radar readout increases and gets more accurate as the vehicle gets nearer. The speed limit is 100KmH (about 62.25 American MPH)  He watched, stupefied….50 – 100 – 150 – 200 – 225 – 250 – 275 – 300.  Just as the blur passed him, the screen read 304KmH!

He thought about starting the cruiser….and then just shook his head.  He considered radioing for assistance, and shook it again.

About a month later, another friend of the mechanic dropped in for a visit. He owns the ‘Robin Masters’ Ferrari from Magnum P.I. because he’s a computer-tech genius.  He fixes big computer systems when they crash, and he’s on-call 24/7/365.  Calls can come at any time, and from Toronto to Taiwan.  Losses can be thousands of dollars per hour, so time is of the essence.

He was wakened about 2:00AM, with a computer-crash in Dubai. A chartered plane would be waiting at the Toronto airport.  Get there ASAP!!  He told his buddy that the highway was almost empty, so he really let’er out.  “It’s a good thing that there were no cops out that night, because I was really flying.  Musta been doin’ almost 300 K.”

And now you know ‘The Rest Of The Story.’

Come back in a couple of days, and I’ll tell you another fascinating story.   🙂

Silence, Blessed Silence

Cabin

Our ancestors enjoyed silence.  At least I hope they enjoyed it, because every invention they produced – every mechanical and electrical advance they made – has led to the constant thrum of noise that we in the developed world are immersed in.

Our forebears worked their asses off 16 hours a day.  When they finally huddled in their huts and cottages and cabins at the end of a long day, these hovels were not the insulated and breeze-resistant wonders we live in today.

It wasn’t so quiet that they could hear the grass grow.  There would have been the sounds of birds and animals and insects – all hopefully outside.  Then, along came technology, and constant, growing noise.  We have become inured to it, and most of us never even notice it.  It’s just part of our lives.

I had one of ‘those moments’ the other day.  Like the digital clocks and power indicator LEDs spewing light around my house, I became aware of how many things were constantly pumping noise into my ears.  I have four analog clocks spread around my house.  They’re all electric, running on batteries, but they all tick, tick, Tick, Tick!

The son doesn’t want the cats or dog messing with stuff in his room, so he keeps the door closed 24/7.  It could get a little funky in there, so he has set the thermostat so that the circulating fan on the furnace runs on low, constantly.  In the summer when the air conditioning, or in the winter when the burner kicks in, the fan ramps up to high.

In the winter, the air in the house gets so dry that I raise half-inch blue sparks, reaching for doorknobs or light switches, so we have a humidifier pumping moisture (and noise) into the atmosphere.  The mechanical timer on the water softener clatters away to itself in the basement, and the softener itself howls for about two hours, twice a week.  Beside it is the chest freezer, beside that is the ‘beer fridge’, plus the big one in the kitchen, none on constantly, but regularly.  Even the water heater burbles away to itself when hot water is used.

In an attempt to conserve electricity, Ontario has banned incandescent light bulbs.  The new CFL, compact fluorescent light bulbs are cheaper on power, but each has a starter built into the base.  These emit a faint 60-cycle hum when turned on.  I sit beside a tri-light bulb when I do my crosswords.  The greater the light output, the more pronounced the hum.  Two or three of those in a room, and the cats have their paws over their ears.

The tower for my PC sits below my desk, down in cat-hair country, so we decided to add a second exhaust fan, just to be safe(r).  The son’s PC is not always on, and only has one fan.  The wife’s laptop has one exhaust fan, but she plays a lot of games.  No Grand Theft Auto – more Canasta and Monopoly – but it was overheating, so now its single fan sits above a cooling pad with two more fans running.

Laptop

The wife has tinnitus – overactive nerves that make her ears ‘hear’ squeals and whines that aren’t there.  To cover up the fakes, so that she won’t go crazy, she often has the stereo on low, or a play list running on the laptop.

There’s the exhaust fan above the stove, when we’re cooking – the washroom exhaust fan – the washer and/or dryer – the dishwasher – the microwave – the stove-oven exhaust fan – the toaster-oven fan – the traffic noise from the four-lane Regional road, 100 feet from my back door – the four-year-old boy who lives in the other half of our semi-detached house, with his collection of bowling balls that he rolls down the stairs, and his seven-year-old sister who walks like a rhino.

I’m going mad – MAD I tell you!  (What?  Too late??)  It’s a wonder that the kids playing road hockey outside don’t tell us to keep it down.  I moved from a quiet small town to the big city (500,000) for jobs and amenities.  I shouldn’t complain, but I’m a Grumpy Old [retired] Dude, what else do I have to do?  If any of you want to comment about the levels of noise you have to put up with, YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP!  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!   😉

McBride

We are all, what we are, because of our life’s experiences, where we’ve lived, the trips we’ve taken, the jobs we’ve had, and especially the people who’ve come into and gone from our lives.  Such a one for me, was McBride.  For about two years of a very formative period, he cut a Technicolor swath through my life.

Bestest friends for a while, we couldn’t have been more different.  Where I was quiet and reserved, he was loud, brash, outgoing and incurably happy.  He just didn’t have a volume control.  Even standing near enough to inspect his fillings, he always spoke as if you were across the room….or across the street.   His personality opened like a big, bright beach umbrella to cover everyone within reach.

Given the same first name as me, and only a month younger, he was born and raised in Barrie, Ontario.  When I lived there for a year, finding that the bank and I weren’t going to have a happy, long-term work relationship, he had moved to Toronto, hoping to find himself, and gainful employment.  When I moved back home for another run at life, he did the same thing.  When I moved to Kitchener, because that was where the jobs were, he did the same.  When we both found that jobs needed education, training and experience, we both wound up taking the same Adult Education course.

It didn’t take long to find that we had his hometown in common, knew the same people, had been the same places.  Besides potential employment, one reason he picked Kitchener was that his older, policeman brother lived here.  He stayed with the couple for a while, but they had a tiny little house, and two young children.  He needed a place to live.  I shared a double bed with my brother, in what was the converted parlor in a rooming house.  Always anxious to maximise her profit, the old Mennonite landlady added a cot, and let him live with us.

When 21 was the legal drinking age, and I was just learning how to wrestle Demon Rum and his friends, McBride was an experienced and dedicated partier.  I would take the trolley-bus home after school got out at 11:00 PM, but it was not unusual for him to roll in at three, or four.  One night he showed up with a big grin on his face.  Just 21, he had put the moves on, and escorted a 45 year old woman from the Secretarial Course home.  He rose to the occasion four times before leaving a happy and very satisfied gal, and walking three miles home.

He never met a beer he didn’t like, especially if it was free.  We were living on the equivalent of Unemployment Insurance.  Once he paid his rent and transport, there wasn’t much left.  He might party Friday night, because school got out at nine.  He might party Sunday night, because we could sleep in and go to school at 5 PM, but Saturday was his day at the Hotel.  Stuffy old Ontario didn’t have bars; they had closely monitored “beverage rooms” in licensed hotels.  Mixed drinks were almost unheard of.  They served beer.

He would spend an hour, Saturday morning, in the bathroom, while the landlady complained about lack of access.  He would emerge, shiny and polished, and ready to start some serious drinking.  A glass of draft beer cost 15 cents, and he was perennially broke.  He would borrow the fifteen cents for the first glass, and disappear for thirteen hours.  I couldn’t spend that long in a dim, smoky room full of noisy drunks, but he did it each and every week.  After leaving broke, he would return with a pocket full of coins and loose bills, drunk, and always well fed.  He always repaid the 15 cents, but never offered more.

Apparently, there were always games of chance/skill going on, penny-toss, the Ring Game, and something called Kadiddle.  I never found out if he cheated or was just a great player.  The first Saturday he left, the phone rang at 1:30 in the morning.  The landlady went to bed about 10.  I heard her get up and answer it in the hall, right outside my room.  Then she banged on my door, told me it was for me, and peevishly insisted that it never happen again.  It was the bartender at the hotel, demanding that I come and pick up the drunk who couldn’t stand, much less walk four blocks home.

The next couple of weeks, on Saturday night, I would move the phone and its stand into my room about midnight, with the cord under the door, as near my bed as it would stretch, and grab it on the first ring, so as not to waken Broomhilda.  Finally, I got smart, and just got dressed and left the house, quietly, at 1:15.

We were so broke we couldn’t afford to spend the afternoon, but he had great plans that we would move into a small apartment.  Back before single-use, plastic food containers, he started bringing home dishes.  If he had an order of French-fries, he put the plate and fork into his coat pocket.  He brought home a vinegar shaker, and a set of salt and pepper shakers.

Including ale, porter and stout, all beer in Ontario was served in a “lager glass.”  Shaped like a Coca-Cola glass, it had a white line a quarter inch from the rim, to assure that drinkers got full measure.  I went to pry him from his chair one night, and he clinked.  He had lager glasses in his pants pockets, across his stomach beneath his belt, down the sleeves of his coat.

Getting into the rooming-house was up two steps, across a landing, then up five more steps.  With me pushing, he made the first two easily enough.  When he took a run at the last five, he got about halfway up, lost his balance and reeled backward.  I managed to catch him and get him headed up again, but I had heard breaking glass.

I got him in reasonably quietly, he collapsed backward on my bed, and I started removing glass and glasses. He had 25 lager glasses, three of five, across his tummy, were broken.  He’s lucky he’s not a eunuch.  I dumped the broken stuff, set the empty ones on the dresser and poured him into his own bed.  When I woke the next day, he was still asleep, but six of the glasses were full of rented beer.

I last saw him about 25 years ago.  He had a regular run from Barrie to Kitchener as a gypsy trucker.  Between road trips and hard drinking, he’d lost a wife, but was still upbeat.  He opened my eyes to a lot of real life.  Have any of you had a “character” like this in your life?