’19 A To Z Challenge – F

AtoZ2019Letter F

First, I gave you several ‘Seinfeld’ posts, each with 6 or 8 unrelated points, but, essentially about ‘Nothing.’ Then I published several posts titled ‘Shotgun,’ like a shotgun blast, with multiple vignettes, but nothing in the way of a single, solid theme.

I got creative, and coined the word ‘Triviana’ to describe these fractured offerings, because it sounded better than Cheap Smarm and Gossip. I stole researched a theme from an American blogger with the right last name, added a photo of Canadian coinage, and called it Smitty’s Loose Change, because my grip on reality is loose, though I don’t really like change.

Eventually, of course, I found that those with more couth and language capability than me, have a word for my weird submissions. They call them

FACETIAE

humorous or witty sayings
obscene or coarsely witty books

It is NOT related to facet, which is a flat surface on a gem or something similar. It Is related to facetious, which means

facetious

adj.

1590s, from French facétieux , from facétie “a joke” (15c.), from Latin facetia “jest, witticism,” from facetus “witty, elegant, fine, courteous,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to facis “torch.”

It implies a desire to be amusing, often intrusive or ill-timed. Related: Facetiously ; facetiousness . “ Facetiæ in booksellers’ catalogues, is, like curious, a euphemism for erotica.” [Fowler]

So, as you can see, I am very serious about not being very serious. I have faced the challenge of A To Z – F. Now I gallop onward, toward the letter G. See you there.  😀

 

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’18 A To Z Challenge – Q

Challenge '18
letter-q

 

I recently found that I’m a

QUIDNUNC

Shabby Man

It’s okay.  I’ve been called worse.  A quidnunc is a nosy old man.  And here I thought that I was just an interested observer of the human condition.  I am fascinated by the most mundane of details about the people who I come into contact with – what their name means, and what ethnic background they come from.  Even if I ask you a question which you refuse to answer because you feel that it is too personal, I still learn something about you.

Actually, a quidnunc is:  noun

  1. a person eager to learn news and scandal; gossipmonger
    a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody.

Origin of quidnunc

First recorded in 1700–10, quidnunc is from the Latin word quid nunc – what now?

Up until about a century ago, the upper social crust liked to study Latin and Attic Greek, the Classical Languages, and show off their education by scattering Greek and Latin terms into their conversations.  That is largely gone now.  Rapidly advancing technology leaves very little spare time to learn dead languages.

Quidnunc is now a seldom-used, archaic term.  It originally applied to someone of any age, but matured to indicate only nosy older men.  Aside from this blog-post, you may never run into it again for the rest of your life.  If you do, it will almost certainly be applied to some old dude with suspenders, and his pants hiked up almost to his armpits, probably at Shoney’s at 4:00 PM, for the Early Bird Special.

Please stop back again soon.  I’d like to play a game of Twenty Questions.  😉

Book Review #12

cymbalum mundi

This will be a review/discussion of a somewhat older book with the odd, Latin title of Cymbalum Mundi. First, let me just say that if, like me, you ever get a chance to read this book….DON’T!

Some time ago, I published a post about how The Church, at the beginning of the Renaissance, made torture a competitive sport, offering rewards, both secular and spiritual, for winners. Jim Wheeler made me aware of a book titled A World Lit Only By Fire, a history of the excesses and hypocrisies of the time.

I obtained it by asking for an inter-library loan. Within its pages, it mentioned another book which listed and mocked certain Church practices.  Always willing to learn more of the failures of the best of the Good Christians, when I returned ‘World’, I requested another special loan.

This book was written in 1537. The title is in Latin, because back then, all serious works were written in Latin, so that educated people in different countries could all read them.  I requested an English translation.  Two weeks later, I got a call to pick it up.  I left the wife in the car, and when I brought it out, I tossed it into her lap.  Fortunately, before I got out of the parking lot, she asked, “Do you read French?”

The author was a Frenchman named Bonaventure Des Periers. While he titled it in Latin, the original text is all French.  I might get the gist of a current French document, but not the detail this book required.  I immediately returned it, and the Library Lady told me, “You should have told us you wanted an English version.”   👿

Two weeks later, I got another call, and carefully checked it before taking delivery. The French copy came from the University of Waterloo, 5 miles north, in our twin city.  The second, English copy, also came from U of W.  I’ve personally borrowed from Wilfrid Laurier University, our neighbors’ second, smaller school, but let the librarians do the work on this one.

The Book – Cymbalum Mundi [The Noise of the World]
(The anticipated applause of his adoring readers)

The Author – Bonaventure Des Periers

The Review – I don’t know what I expected to get with this book, but I didn’t get it. It came with 4 pages of Foreword, 28 pages of Introduction, 5 pages of Notes, and 4 pages of Literary References – and none of it actually explained only 74 pages of allegory and allusion.

It consists of five small segments, beginning with a fake letter to a fake friend, explaining how he carefully translated this from the original Greek. This is followed by four small scenes from a Shakespeare-like play; only, A Midsummer’s Night Dream is lucid and crystal clear, compared to this.

Jupiter sends his son Mercury to Earth, to have an old book rebound. He falls in with three brigands who steal the book from his bag, by replacing it with a worthless book, the same size and shape, while they are drinking at an inn.

NOW:

Does Jupiter represent God?
Does Mercury, the Messenger, represent Jesus?
Is the book Mercury brings, the tattered Old Testament?
Does the new, rebound book represent the New Testament?
Are the thieves the rulers of the Church, who steal The Word, to sell to the masses and enrich themselves?
Is the fake book they substitute, the code of rules the Church uses to control the laity?
Is the hostess of the inn a stand-in for the Virgin Mary?
Is the real food and wine she serves them a denial of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation?

The problem is, he never actually says. One well-known historian, with a pile of evidence, says yes, while another, just as renowned, and with as big a pile of proof, says the exact opposite.  You can ‘make’ this book say anything you want it to.

I had hoped that it might show more of the excesses and failings of the Church. What it shows, is the tap-dancing necessary for any writer of this period to present some doubt, and cause people to think, without ending up chained to a post, tap-dancing on a large bonfire.

It was interesting, and in the end educational, but not really fulfilling.

Ish Kabibble

Queen

During one of my many trips to London, I became
friends with a very wealthy, yet very modest,
Jewish chap named Hyman Goldfarb. On one visit,
Hy told me that because of his large donations to
charities through the years, the queen wanted to
knight him, but he was going to turn it down.

“That’s a great honor,” I said. “Why would you
turn it down?”

“Because during the ceremony you have to say
something in Latin,” he said. “And I don’t wish
to bother studying Latin just for that.”

“So say something in Hebrew. The queen wouldn’t
know the difference.”

“Brilliant,” Hy complimented me, “but what should
I say?”

“Remember that question the son asks the father
on the first night of Passover? … ‘Why is this
night different from all other nights?’ Can you
say that in Hebrew?”

“Of course,” he said. “Ma nishtana ha leila
hazeh. Thank you, old sport, I shall become a
knight.”

At the ceremony Hy waited his turn while several
of the other honorees went before the queen.
Finally they called his name. He knelt before
Her Majesty, she placed her sword on one shoulder
and then on the other, and motioned for Hy to speak.

Out came “Ma nishtana ha leila hazeh.”

The queen turned to her husband and said, “Why is
this knight different from all other knights?”

***

Did you ever stop to think – and forget to start again?

***

Why do men fart more than women?
Because women don’t shut up long enough to build up pressure.

***

A customer walks into a pharmacy and asks an
assistant for an anal deodorant. The assistant
explains that they don’t stock them. The man
insists that he bought his last one from this
store. The assistant refers the man to the
pharmacist, who explains that store has never
stocked such an item. The man explains he bought
his last one from this store only weeks ago and
has done for several years. The pharmacist asks
man to bring in his last purchase and he will try
to match the product.

The following day, the man returns to the
pharmacy and shows the deodorant to the
pharmacist. The pharmacist asks why the customer
thinks this is an anal deodorant, when it is
obviously of the underarm stick variety.

The customer explains that instructions on
the back state, “Push up bottom to use.”

***

I often wonder: What do people mean when they say,
“The computer went down on me?”  😯

 

In The Name Of The Son

Even in today’s society, who you are is often important in terms of who you are in relation to others.  Back when surnames were being handed out, relationships were even more important, especially for the rich and titled, but also for the common man.  Many surnames, in many languages, tell who our forefather was.

In English, it would seem obvious, although many fail to understand the significance.  If your name ends in “son”, who’s your (great-great-great-grand) daddy?  There are Johnson, and Jackson, Donaldson, our favorite commenter, Erickson, Tomson (although it’s often spelled Thomson, Thompson, or even Tompson), and Williamson.

I worked for several years with a Bill Williamson.  I commented one day that his name was actually William, William’s son, and asked if his dad was a Bill, also.  Dad’s name was Robert, but he and mom had immigrated from Wales, and Bill’s real first name was Gwyllem.

My blue-painted, claymore-wielding, skirt-wearing ancestors were much interested in lineage also.  The Scottish-Gaelic word for “son” was Mac.  A large percentage of Scottish names therefore mean “son of”.  MacDougall, MacDonald, MacIntosh, MacKenzie, Macready, etc.

Fitz is an English/French prefix also meaning son of.  It comes from the Latin, filius.  It gives us names like Fitzsimmons, Fitzpatrick and Fitzgibbons.  Fitz, however, means illegitimate son of.  This was especially important to the royalty and aristocracy.  The one surname which was not supposed to exist, was Fitzroy.  This was an illegitimate son of a king, and had the power to cause civil war for inheritance rights.

To be the first son of someone important, meant inheriting….title, land, money, income and power.  Second and third sons got next to nothing, and often had to beg for support from the first-born.  There was pressure to go out into the world and perform daring feats to wrest some fame and fortune for themselves.

North America was not taken and settled by Spanish first-borns.  The Spanish word hidalgo comes from “hijo d’algo” – meaning “son of *someone*”, or “a son with something”, a horse, a sword, and enough money to get into trouble.  Much of history has been wrought by second sons trying to get a little, or a lot, for themselves.

Once upon a time, a large group of Scottish second-sons got together and decided to take over Ireland, since Scotland was already divvied up.  Many were successful at obtaining land and serfs for themselves, and they settled in comfortably.  First came love, then came marriage, pretty soon the baby-carriage and then the lazy pronunciation habits of the Irish changed all the good Scottish Macs into Irish Mcs.  They became McArthur, McClure, McMahon and McMillan.  This is where the slang term Micks, for Irishmen came from.

Ireland had already been taught English by the time the need for surnames occurred.  Many were given the name, “the son of *their father*”.  Lazy pronunciation soon turned son “of”, into O’Malley, O’Hara, O’Daye, O’Connor, and the like.  Clocks and time are not Irish, but that same lax pronunciation turned, ten (hours) of the clock, into ten o’clock.

In Arabic, the word for son is Ibn.  The Hebrew word is rendered in English as Ben.  Israel’s first prime Minister was David Ben-Gurion.  Many languages use a suffix rather than a prefix to indicate “son of”.  In Polish, the majority of names end in –ski.  All the rest are Polish toboggans, or so the Pole named Yantha told me.

From Russian, the Cyrillic-language, son-of suffix, comes to English as, of, off, ov and ev.  Ivanoff and Petrov mean son of John, and son of Peter.  Russians are often creative with their names, sometimes taking new ones to hide behind.  Vladimir Lenin’s surname means ‘Iron.”  To go him one better, Joseph Stalin adopted a name which means “Steel.”  I’ve never read why Nikita Khrushchev took his last name.  It has the “ev” suffix meaning son of, but the Russian word khrusht, means “beetle.”

It seems that most languages are only interested in who you were the son of.  Russian is one of the few which also has an identifier for “daughter”.  It takes the patronymic family name and adds the suffix “ova”.  The female cosmonaut was Valentina Tereshkova.

In one of the James Bond movies, the writers did a little joke by giving a sexually aggressive, female Russian agent the double entendre name of Onatop.  I can find no proof that Onatop is a real Russian name.  Even if it were, correctly, she would be Onatopova, but that wouldn’t tickle teenage male humor.

Nordic languages like Swedish and Icelandic have the suffix “sen”, which means the same as “son.”  They also have the female version, “dottir” for, you guessed it, daughter.  In these languages, the surnames change every generation.  If you are Gunnar Thorvaldsen, your father’s name is Thorvald.  Your son is Erick Gunnarsen, and his male child, John Erickson, becomes a famous blog-commenter.  (How did he sneak in here again?  Somebody close and lock the door!)

Your female child would be Frieda Gunnarsdottir, and would keep that name even after marrying, but her little girl might be Inga Svensdottir.

I was going to title this post, “It’s All Relative”, but since a large part of the world still has a fascination with male offspring, I went with the son label.  I know most of us are leery about revealing actual names on the open internet, but, do any of my readers have an “offspring of” name?