’22 A To Z Challenge – H

 

Benny Hill!  Benny Hill!  Benny Hill!

What can you say about Benny Hill?

He was a mediocre actor, a funny TV comic, and a brilliant writer and comedian.  To be the writer and comedian, he was also a brilliant linguist, sometimes making puns and jokes in two and three languages.

He got “Son of a bitch!” past the BBC censors by claiming that a French skit character spoke of, ‘Ze sun, over ze beach.’

He talked about having a bent wood chair in his dressing room.  Not a Bentwood Chair – but a bent wood chair, because his dressing room was in the damp, BBC basement.

With the moving of a couple of letters on a sign, he turned
Dr. Johnson
the
rapist

Into

Dr. Johnson
therapist

Not only was he familiar with French and German, but quite knowledgeable about regional British accents, where, if you travelled 50 miles, the common folk could not be understood, and bread rolls had changed names.  Sometimes he used words and phrases that those born on this side of the pond didn’t recognize.

Once, he wrote a bit, making fun of a commercial from Cheer detergent, which had just begun selling in the UK.  We’ll take two dress shirts, and pour blackberry juice on both of them.  Then we’ll wash one of them in Applaud detergent, (So no-one could accuse him of making fun of Cheer) and the other one in Ben’s Cleanso.  Flash out – flash in.  And there you see it friends (Both shirts still badly stained)  Not a haip o’ the difference.

HAIP

haip = “wattle, sheaf or heap of straw etc.”
(Therefore – something small, or inconsequential)
And you thought that the word for H was going to be Benny HILL.

I took its meaning from context, but I had to wait for Al Gore to invent the Internet, and then wait some more until stable genius (Like Mr. Ed), Donald Trump perfected it, to meet its parents online.  I still haven’t, really.  I finally found one word-site which gave the definition, but only said that it was British dialect, and very rare.  It did not say what area dialect, although I suspect Northumbria/Yorkshire – up north, away from London and the universities, where the poor folk live.  If this word were coined in the US, it would be from Appalachia.

Helpful fellow-blogger and word-nerd Daniel Digby, just introduced me to wordhistories.net, a Frenchman living in Lancashire, who blogs about etymology.  At first I shook my head about a Frenchie in England but it makes as much sense as a Quebecois in Ontario.  It’s 300 miles from London to Paris, and 300 miles from Toronto to Montreal.  Perhaps he’s more successful wrestling search engines than I am.  When I get back from Merriam-Webster on Wednesday, we can have a few laughs.   😆

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

If you have never remarked, at least to yourself, about the number of English words that are almost the same size and shape, have almost the same letters and meaning, and yet are different…. You’ve never done a crossword puzzle.  😳

Where to find Guinness – Any decent bar – but in the crossword, you have to work sideways.  What is the second latter?  Is it Eire or Erin?

Claim – is it aver, or avow?

Price rise – bump or jump?

Cell inhabitants – nuns or cons?

Prohibit – bar or ban?

Talk a lot – yak or gab?

Geological period – era or eon?

Sleep – nod or nap?

The top – acme or apex?

Peak – top or tip?

Not real – fake or faux?

Hand warmers – mitts or muffs?

Gourmet delicacy – snail or quail?

Hurled – flung or slung?

Comics dog – Otto or Odie?

Over – atop or upon?

The 411 – info or data?

Stop up – plug or clog?

Exploited – milked or bilked?

Wicked – evil or vile?

Senate yes – aye or yea?

Kick out – eject or evict?

Made mad – angered or enraged?

Outdo – beat or best?

Pants part – seat or seam?

Agree with – sync or side?

Father-involved – parental or paternal?….or, if mother’s involved – prenatal

Old-time actress, in five letters – starts with GA.  Ooh!  Ooh!  I got this!  Green Acres TV show – Eva Gabor.  Oops. Sorry!  Even old-timier than that – Greta Garbo!  Same five letters – different order.  Rats!

Dog food brand (in four) – Iams or Alpo

Because of the product that they provide, crossword composers are usually exacting and precise in the usage of words in both their clues, and solutions.  Sadly, illiteracy and incorrect usage creep in, even among the best.

The solution to doesn’t want to, is the six-letter word averse, not the seven-letter adverse, which means, unfavorable, contrary, opposing.

The correct response, (in four letters, second letter I), to lay low is kill.  To hide, is to lie low.

The pedant in me says that core group is not a cadre!  A cadre is a frame or border, which contains other things placed inside.  If you’re pretentious enough to use the word cadre, then your core group are the newbies.

Muss one’s hair.  Tussle means wrestle, scuffle or struggle  It’s not accurate, unless we’re talking about Amos, from the 9 Chickweed Lane comic strip – tousle comes from the Scottish touse – to handle roughly – to dishevel.

Finally, we get to related things which occur serially and sequentially, but are not identical.

Festive nights are not eves!  Eve is the short form for evening, the time when light and dark are about the same – dusk, twilight, nightfall, even gloaming – depending on the date, perhaps from Six P.M. till Nine.   ‘Nights’ continue through till sunup the next morning, but very few festive parties do.

To fill a pipe does not mean tamp.  They are two separate actions.  A pipe must first be filled, before the tobacco can be tamped down for a slow, even smoulder.  It’s why Scotty stopped smoking a pipe.  When he was smoking someone else’s tobacco, he crammed so much into the bowl that he could hardly draw.  When he was smoking his own, there was so little that it wasn’t worth it.

Ties vs. laces.  I see teenagers all the time, whose shoes have been laced, the ends of which are dragging on the ground, untied.  I often wonder why they, or someone else, don’t step on a trailing end, and produce an epic face-plant.

Unlatch a gate – open.  I can unlatch a gate, and leave it for the dog, or the cows, or even my buddy the burglar, to open when it is necessary, or convenient.

Assuming that the therapy session goes well, and the meds kick in, I’ll be back, as usual, in a couple of days.  You’ve been warned.  😉

Contrary To Popular Belief

Contrary to popular belief, the Internet doesn’t know everything.

My Mind recently went for a little walk, unaccompanied, but properly masked.  When it returned, it brought back a tiny piece of my childhood – a strange little piece called

UNEEDA LABORATORY

I know that it existed, because Mad Magazine did a send-up on it, and I once read an article saying that jokesters spoofed it with names like Igotta Laboratory, Wewanna Lab. and Theyhadda Lab.  Whether they ever heard of the Laboratory, smart marketers are still using the cutesy name to identify companies like, Uneeda Taxi, Uneeda Tire Center, and Uneeda Burger.

In my youth, I never investigated what Uneeda Laboratory researched, so I plugged it into both Bing and Google.  I got back a black hole.  😯  Nabisco made biscuits that they called Uneeda, back in the early 1900s.  There’s a coated abrasives firm which makes Uneeda wire wheels, sanding belts, and grinding wheels, but they market them as Tanis Brush.  They brag that they’ve been in business for 50 years, but my memories of Uneeda are 65 years or more old.

In the 1960s, there was a Brooklyn company that made a product called Uneeda Dolls.  The dolls are long gone, and the company was bought up by a Hong Kong firm called Tony Toys.  There’s a tiny village named Uneeda in West Virginia, about as big as a mole on a chipmunk’s nose.  It’s not large enough for another outhouse, much less a laboratory.  I’ve heard the joke that, “My home-town was so small; the McDonalds only had one arch.”  This village of 391 at a bend in a mountain road claims to have a McD’s, but there is no arch.

Dictionary sites don’t recognize the name.  It’s probably because I’m a grumpy old technological Luddite: I just don’t know what search terms to enter into search engines like Bing or Google.  When I enter meaning Uneeda, I am referred to the Nabisco biscuits, or the coated-abrasives, sites.  That’s what Uneeda is, not what the word means.

If I enter meaning name Uneeda, I am presented with 6 or 8 baby name sites which claim to know the meanings of every name, but don’t.

Meaning – baby boy name – Uneeda
Meaning – baby girl name – Uneeda

Each and every one of them is a Wiki-style site.  They all say, “We do not currently have a meaning for the name Uneeda.  If you have a meaning for the name Uneeda, please enter it.”

And so, the origin and history of the famous Uneeda Laboratory fades into the mists of time.  Have any of you ever heard of the Uneeda Laboratory?  If you know the meaning of Uneeda Laboratory, please enter it.

Book Review #26

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

Published 1853

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

The book: Bartleby the Scrivener

The author: Herman Melville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TILWROT II

Take me out of the ball game.

In the early 1960’s, before I arrived in this burgh, interest in, and support for, Junior, City-League Baseball was waning.  One local team felt that they needed $10,000, a considerable sum, to pay for a year’s uniforms, equipment and transportation costs, and no sponsors were coming forward.

One 16-year-old, baseball-crazy boy had an idea.  He would sit on a 6’ X 6’ platform on top of a 50 foot flagpole in the ball park, until the amount was raised.  He lasted three days, until unexplained stomach pains caused the same fire crew and ladder truck that put him up, to lower him down again.  His almost-feat was recently recounted in the ‘Flash From The Past’ history column in a Saturday newspaper.  His name was Ken Fryfogel.

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things – Act 2 – Fryfogel

The name Fryfogel is very uncommon.  Ancestry.com only has 298 listed in North America.  The unnumbered few in Canada are all in Ontario, and I suspect, most right here in Southwestern Ontario.  I decided to research.

Fryfogel appears to be a Germanic name, like Vogel – which is a bird, or Logel – who was a cooper.  Surname-meaning websites just shrugged.  I tried a translation website, but got nothing.  I tried changing the spelling from ‘el’ to ‘le.’  I tried pulling it apart, into Fry, and fogel – nothing.  I tried entering ‘fogel’ into a dictionary site.  I got, No listing for ‘fogel.’  Did you mean fodgel?’

I don’t know.  Do I??!  I’ve never run into the word.  What does it mean?   Yorkshire/Scottish dialect – a short, fat person-by extension, a fat hen.  So, a Fryfogel is someone who cooks up a big fat chicken.  Twenty miles from here, at the intersection of a concession road and the highway, halfway to Justin Bieber’s ex-home, stands the historic, 200-year-old Fryfogel Inn.  😎  What better name for an innkeeper than one that says that he’ll serve you up some fried chicken along with your ale?

I’ll be serving up some more interesting drivel in a couple of days.  Hope to see you then.  😀

Get A Grip

I have a gripe with English.  It is said that a man with a watch always knows what time it is.  A man with two watches is never sure.  For a word with one meaning, or even several established meanings, I know what is meant.  For words which keep adding, subtracting, and modifying meanings, I am less and less sure what is meant.

The word ‘grip’ originally meant, a grasp, a grab, a hold, by a person’s hand.  Recently, technology has included machines.  Once upon an archaic, the words ‘grip’ and ‘gripe’ meant the same thing.  (Don’t ask me why.  I can’t get a hold on it.)  Now grip can mean a small suitcase with a handle, which can be grasped and carried by one hand.  Gripe can be a nagging complaint by someone who may not have a firm grip on reality.

At one time, ‘grippe’, which is pronounced grip, but which is neither grip nor gripe, was the word to identify influenza, the ordinary, seasonal, gastro-intestinal flu,’ a kinder, gentler, distant relative to COVID.  “Grippe” could cause abdominal cramps, especially among babies and young children.

To alleviate these symptoms, “Grippe Water” was developed and marketed.  My mother dosed me with it several times.  The original formula contained alcohol and sugar in addition to sodium bicarbonate and dill oil – a couple of stomach calmers, some calories to replace what might have been lost to the illness, and a mild sedative to aid with sleeping.  It was once said that the best remedy for a colicky baby, was a good, thick, oak door.

Then the All-Or-Nothing, Save Us From Ourselves, Snowflakes got a grip on it, and removed all the “bad” ingredients, so present-day products do not contain alcohol or sugar, but may contain fennel, ginger, chamomile, cardamom, licorice, cinnamon, clove, dill, lemon balm or peppermint, depending on the formula.

Grippe’ was what caused the cramping, but ‘gripe’ is the term for the actual clutching, grasping intestinal pain.  Since the formula was changed, the name has also been changed.  ‘Grippe Water’ is no more, and the new product is ‘Gripe Water.’  That’s only one of the English terms that I have a gripe about.  😯

Proof – Of The Desperation Of Christian Apologists

You can not prove (or disprove) the existence of God through philosophy, logic, argumentation or debate.

Figures lie, and liars figure – and words, and those who wield them, are not much better.

I once had a mathematics professor who had some spare time after one lesson.  He erased two blackboards.  At the top of one, he wrote x = 1.  He then wrote a simple binomial equation beneath it. Below that, he began to add factors – multiplying, dividing, squaring, till the seventh equation was fairly complex.

At the top of the next board, he began to solve and simplify – each equation becoming less complex, until the seventh line solved, to show that x = 2.  😕  I thought that I followed the sequence, and my buddy, the numbers nerd later assured me that I did – we all did.  The teacher had just proved something that was observably false.

The Arguments For The Existence Of God

The Cosmological Argument: An argument for the existence of God based on the observation that, since every known thing in the universe has a cause, which can only be God.

The Moral Argument: An argument for the existence of God which reasons that there must be a God who is the source of man’s sense of right and wrong.

The Ontological Argument: An argument for the existence of God that begins with the idea of God as the greatest of beings that can be imagined. As such, the characteristic of existence must belong to such a being, since it is greater to exist than not to exist.

Teleological Argument: An argument for the existence of God which reasons that, since the universe exhibits evidence of order and design, there must be an intelligent and purposeful God who created it to function in this way.

The Cosmological Argument – every known thing in the universe

Mealy-mouthed, and weasel-words, which only prove a narrow mind, and a pile of assumptions and pre-suppositions.

It is possible that there are things within the Universe which have no cause.  Just because they have not been observed does not prove them impossible or nonexistent, or limit the choice to ‘only God.’  It seems likely that the Universe itself has no cause.  It floated about, apparently forever, in the timeless, spaceless Meta-verse that God is supposed to “exist” in.  But the Universe is palpable, observable, malleable, and measurable, while God cannot be proved to exist beyond the hopes and faith of religious believers.

The Moral Argument:

Reason: to think or argue in a logical manner.
to form conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.
to think through logically,
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of ‘reasoning,’ thinking,’ ‘logic,’ or ‘facts’ in this unproven claim.  It denies Atheists’ claims that they are Good Without God, and ignores the observed fact that most Atheists are ‘good’ and moral, while many God-botherers fill prisons and divorce courts.

The Ontological Argument:
Like many Christian arguments, this one starts at the desired conclusion, and works backwards to somehow justify it.  There is no suggestion, no evidence, much less Proof, that there is a “greatest being,” and even if there is, there is no indication that it is the Christian God. As the argument even says, it’s all based on imagination.

Teleological Argument:
Apophenia is the tendency to mistakenly perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things. The term was coined by psychiatrist Klaus Conrad in his 1958 publication on the beginning stages of schizophrenia. He defined it as “unmotivated seeing of connections accompanied by a specific feeling of abnormal meaningfulness”. He described the early stages of delusional thought as self-referential, over-interpretations of actual sensory perceptions, as opposed to hallucinations.  Such meanings are entirely self-referential, solipsistic, and paranoid (Emphasis mine)—”being observed, spoken about, the object of eavesdropping, followed by strangers”.  Pareidolia is a type of apophenia involving the perception of images or sounds in random stimuli..

It is considered poor form and bad manners to say that religious people are crazy, but it seems that portions of their delusional, unsupported beliefs, must fall within the parameters of the clinical definition.

 

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.” 😳

***

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

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.

’19 A To Z Challenge – G

AtoZ2019

Letter GWhere did it all start to go wrong??! I blame it on reading Mad Magazine as an impressionable youngster. Mad satirized society, politics, entertainment, and much more. While it was full of silliness, it was still thinking man’s humor. When it achieved commercial success, it was quickly imitated by the likes of Cracked, and Eh magazines. Full of Adam Sandler-like fart jokes, they didn’t last long, and folded. Mad is still publishing after almost 70 years.

One of the ongoing humor bits, was the “translation” of foreign words and phrases.

Gott mit uns – I found my winter gloves
Deutschland uber alles – Alice got run over by a Volkswagen
Mare nostrum – Mary can’t play the guitar
Ad hoc – I had to pawn some of my stuff
Honi soit qui mal y pense – Honey, why did you spank Malcolm?
Sic transit gloria mundi – Gloria threw up on the bus, early this week

This brings us to the translation of this week’s foreign word – actually, a German name, which many local people carry

Gottschalk

Gottschalk – an elementary-school teacher 😉

I ran into this name in a book about people’s delusions. He was a medieval priest who helped raise an army of 100,000 men in Germany, to go on a crusade. Through poor preparation and planning, as well as internal strife, only a handful lived to even get as far as Constantinople, leaving a trail of death and destruction through several countries, including Hungary, with at least that many ‘civilians’ dead behind them.

Always interested in name values, I plugged it into Google Translate. I regret the fact that Dictionary.com can no longer afford to maintain their translation service. It was the best translator I’ve found. When I just enter ‘Google translate’ into the computer toolbar, I always get Bing Translate at the top of the page – terrible site – couldn’t translate a wish into an action.

For those of you who have never used Google Translate – I assume, most of you – when you begin typing text in, it immediately begins translation. I knew that ‘Gott’ equals ‘God,’ so I wasn’t surprised to see that quickly pop up. I thought that the compound word was possessive – Gotts chalk = God’s ?????, but the word ‘schalk’ has a meaning of its own.

As I continued to type in the S, C, H, A, L, suddenly the translation was God scarf, showing how the Anglo-Saxon word ‘schal’ became the English word ‘shawl.’ I typed in the final K, and got knave, rogue, instigator, troublemaker. For a busybody Christian, whose religious fervor was instrumental in causing the deaths of almost a quarter million people for no benefit, I find the name’s word value of ‘God’s little shit-disturber,’ painfully appropriate.

Don’t wait to stop back, Hoss, but if you do, I’ll have something for the letter H in two weeks. 😀