’20 A To Z Challenge – X

 

How do you catch a bear??  You dig a hole in the forest, and build a big fire in it until it burns down to ashes.  Then you place frozen peas around the rim of the hole.  When the bear stops for a pea, you kick him in the ash-hole.

All of which is easier than catching a theme for the letter X.  I recently published a post with references to Utopia, Brigadoon, and Shangri-La.  Since I did not include it there, and with inspiration (and words that begin with X) so thin on the ground, I’ve decided to feature the word

XANADU

a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.

Xanadu – the movie – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanadu_(film)

Xanadu – the poem (part of it) – By Samuel Taylor Coleridge – actually titled

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

The Xanadu in the poem was inspired by Shang-tu, the summer residence of Mongolian general and statesman Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan). You might also recognize “Xanadu” as the name of the fantastic estate in Orson Welles’s 1941 film Citizen Kane.  Coleridge’s fantastic description of an exotic utopia fired public imagination and ultimately contributed to the transition of “Xanadu” from a name to a generalized term for an idyllic place.

There’s everything that you never wanted to know about Xanadu.  After (almost) completing this post, I decided on a likely suspect for next year.  After that, you’re on your own.  The alphabet will only contain 25 letters.  Any suggestions or requests will be gratefully accepted, unless you want an exciting and extended treatise on the development and use of the cedilla.   😳

’20 A To Z Challenge – T

Amplified and heterodyned gravitonic waves from a giant Black Hole, in a far-off galaxy, https://www.msn.com/en-ca/kids/science/oldest-quasar-and-supermassive-black-hole-discovered-in-the-distant-universe/ar-BB1cLUOj?li=AAggFp5  produced an inversion in space-time which resulted in a reversal of publishing my T and U blogposts.  (Definitely not my confusion and lousy memory.)  Here’s what you missed, two weeks ago.

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her

TUFFET

a low stool; footstool.
Eating her curds and whey.  Along came a spider, who sat down beside her and said, “What’s in the bowl, bitch?”

She tossed her tousled tresses, and said, “It’s getting too damned crowded in here!  I’m going outside for some fresh air.  She trekked her pert little tush outside, and plunked it down on a

TUSSOCK

a tuft or clump of growing grass or the like.

She said, “And it ain’t curds and whey!  Who the Hell eats curds and whey, anymore??  Effete vegans, and twee guys with man-buns??!  (Speaking of which – Has anyone seen that horrible Uber Eats commercial, with the male(?) gymnast??  I don’t have to ask, but I do try to tell him, to turn down the GAY a notch.)  This, and a beer, is the “Breakfast of Champions.”  This, with a beer poured over it, is the breakfast of champions.  This is my namesake cereal, the one that Quaker named after me, ‘cause I’m so cute and well-rounded – Muffets.”

So, when I say that I ate a muffet, it’s not like Little Hot Welding Rod Little Red Riding Hood.  She was on her way to Granny’s, through the deep, dark forest, when a big, bad wolf jumped out and said, “I’m going to eat you.”  Red replied, “Eat, eat, eat!  Doesn’t anybody screw anymore?”

So, don’t screw around.  Stop back in a couple of days.  If I’ve finished my cereal, there’s a good chance that I might have something almost significant to say.   🙄

WOW #68

I once knew a man named Isbister.
Thank you for your concern and condolences.

He pronounced it izz-biss-tur.  His first name was Murray – a good Scottish name.  It’s where the word ‘Mondegreen’ comes from.

They’ve killed the Earl o’ Murray,
And laid ‘im on the green.

His last name might have been Czechoslovakian for all I knew.  There was a Scottish housewife in town, with a brogue as thick as a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, married to a Polack named Mackowski.

I recently heard spoken references to another Isbister, this one clearly a Scottish citizen, referred to by another Scot.  This time, the pronunciation was eyes-biss-tur.  The family name is locational, coming from a village named Isbister.

The speaker also referred to another village named Fladdabister.  The Scots do have a way with language and pronunciation.  I kid (Sure I do) that the Irish are hard drinkers.  With names like that, maybe my lot were giving them lessons.  I mean, Scotch whiskey didn’t just happen.

Two towns with the word

BISTER

in their names – what could it mean??

Bister is a pigment obtained by burning (waste) wool.  It is/was used in paint and ink.  Apparently the simultaneous oxidation of lanolin and keratin, produced a deep, permanent black, similar to India ink.  It is no surprise that it is linked to the sheep/wool industry.  Other than growing oats, raising James Bond, and stealing magic rocks back from the British Parliament, there’s not much else to do in Scotland.

Scotland the Brae!  It’s a great place to be from.  Now, don’t get your kilts in a knot.  😉

Flash Fiction #239

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS

He tried to raise his head from the floor, but someone had turned the gravity up.  He’d just lie here and ask Whatzizname, the jock, for assistance.  Whatzizname??!  What was his name?  This was silly.  He just got a bank statement….  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday dear…. Jerry.  Yeah, that was it – Jerry.

He vaguely recalled a frat-party that included beer-pong and tequila shooters.  He also remembered some nice man…. Dad – telling him to concentrate on his university studies, and not attend such bashes.  Right, Dad – when the bleeding in his eyes cleared up.

***

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

***

I credit 1950s/60s comedian, Shelly Berman with the inspiration for this cautionary tale.  Click here if you’d like to hear some classic comedy about The Morning After The Night Before.

WOW #65

Alright all you COVID couch potatoes, what is the absolute minimum amount that you may move?
Honey??!  Make me a tuna sandwich wouldya, and change the channel to bowling when you bring it in.

According to a slimmed-down, rear-facing Scotsman, it’s a

THERBLIG

(in time and motion study) any of the basic elements involved in completing a given manual operation or task that can be subjected to analysis.
ORIGIN OF THERBLIG

1930–35, Americanism; anagram of F. B. Gilbreth (1868–1924), American engineer

Along with much of the English language, Mr. Gilbreth’s name has been on a diet, and getting leaner and cleaner over hundreds of years.  Other engineers could honor him by (almost) tuning his name around backwards, to get the term ”therblig,” but the more common spelling is Galbraith. https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Galbraith   It’s a good thing that most Scots were illiterate when they dreamed this name up.  It would take most of an afternoon, writing it all out.

What is the minimum of motion that I’ve achieved this week??  Well, I failed to move enough brain cells to produce a 100-word Flash Fiction.  I only moved a few computer keys enough to create this little stub of a WOW.  I’ll get a move on and do better next week.   😉  😯

’20 A To Z Challenge – J

Jezebel

I once had a great-aunt named Jessie – until I got old enough that my Father told me I didn’t.

Just before I turned 12, my Father informed the family that his favorite aunt had rented a tiny cottage in our tourist town, and would be vacationing for a week.  Never married – she may have been lesbian – she still gathered four small children, cared for and mostly raised them, when Dad’s mother died, giving birth to his younger sister, and his father abandoned them to go off and become a hermit.

She always treated him particularly well.  The few times I met her, she treated me particularly well.  I had (almost) reached the Age Of Reason.  With no obvious prompt, my Dad said, “Her real name isn’t Jessie, you know.”  (No, I didn’t know that.)  “What is it then?”

JEZEBEL

Dad’s paternal grandparents weren’t exceedingly Christian.  Their two boys received common, normal names.  Dad’s dad was Howard.  His aunt may have been assigned her questionable moniker, because her mother was reminded.  She was an unfortunate, female, every-third-child, who was born with a head of brilliant red hair.

She soon tired of the name Jezebel.  She was picked on, mocked, and bullied, at school and in church.  She was still young – elementary school – when she decided to do something about the despicable actions and attitudes of ‘Good Christians.’  Jezebel disappeared, never to be heard of again, and Jessie (or was it Jesse?) came into being, to take her place.

I am so glad that my mother gave me two Plain-Jane (Well…. You know what I mean) names.  I can disappear in a crowd of two.  Archon, and the Grumpy Old Dude, haven’t disappeared though.  Stop back again soon, and I’ll tell you about the fellow who appeared before a judge, requesting to legally change his name.  The judge asked, “What is your name?”  He replied, “Joe Schitts.”  “Well, I can understand why you would want to change your name.  What do you want to change it to?”  “Bob!”  😯

’20 A To Z Challenge – H

A To Z ChallengeLetter H

I never forget a face, but for you, I‘ll make an exception.
You look familiar.  Have you visited my site before?

I’ve got a word all picked out for the letter H.  It’s……. Uh…. around here somewhere.  Now where did I put it??!

Memory Loss

Ah yes, I wanted to tell you about

HYPOMNESIA

noun: Impaired memory.
Abnormally poor memory of the past. As compared to hypermnesia and amnesia. From hypo- + the Greek mneme, memory.
Excessive deposits of copper in the brain may cause neurological disorders such as Parkinson-like symptomsincluding bradykinesiatremor and dystonia, or neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as hypomnesia, dysgnosia, and personality abnormalities.

This is the ‘Learning Disorder’ that I’ve been fighting all my life, complete with essential tremor and lack of social connection.  I can forget someone’s name, while I’m still shaking hands with him.  It’s why I did not go far in school.  I’m not stupid, far from it.  I can understand complex concepts, but I just couldn’t remember them for exams.

I envy people like my son.  I have an extra 25 years of experience, but our heads are both stuffed with about the same amount of trivia.  Where he can recall an esoteric fact at the drop of a pun, I’m like Rain Man, from the movie.  Three days too late it’s, “Qantas!  Definitely Qantas!”

While good, he does not have my opposite, hypermnesia.  Some people mistakenly call that ‘Photographic Memory.’  That term only applies to things which are seen, like text, or pictures.  Eidetic Memory is a better name.  That includes sounds, physical and emotional feelings, aromas, and tastes.

It’s too late in my life to be successful, even with their help, but I adore the advent of computers.  I often use mine to be my memory for me – if I can just recall where I cached my list of passwords.  Even with their assistance, I will never have Total Recall, like the movie title.  I prefer We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, the title of Philip K. Dick’s book, that the 2 movies were named from.

Forgetful

I recently ran into a man I worked with for 15 years, up till 15 years ago.  Use It Or Lose It!  We chatted for ten minutes about the bad old days.  I knew that he was from Uganda, 30 miles north of the equator, but it wasn‘t till after he’d walked away, that I finally remembered his name – so good they named him twice – Karim Karim.

Thoughts, memories, ideas, blog themes – as fleeting and ephemeral as mayflies, or moths around a porch light, I have learned to jot them down, or enter them into an electronic file WHEN they happen – or I lose them.

I’m sure that there were a couple, or several, other points that I wished to add to this post.  They are gone like dew on the grass on a sunny morning.  I forgot them.  Please, don’t you forget to stop by again in a couple of days.  When I do finally remember to compose something, it is often interesting and informative enough to be worth reading.

’20 A To Z Challenge – G

Ham

I recently took a linguistic tour of names, from South America, to Mexico, and parts of Europe.   It was all virtual – in a book, and online.  In real life, I’m barely allowed out the front door by myself.

The hero of the book fled a refuge in the headwaters of the Amazon, high up in the Andes, where Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela all bump together.  Reaching Mexico, he found that a friend had been killed.  He discovered that a U.S. Navy Seal, who he had thought was an American named Eddie Gamble, had actually been a Mexican named Eduardo Gamboa.

Gamboa’, as a Spanish name is not common, and I thought at first that it was really Portuguese, through Brazil, so I started looking.  Maybe because Portugal is on the other side of the Pyrenees mountains from Spain, the language developed different.  They spell words and names like this, the other way.  Their version is Gambao.

It was at this point that my ever-reliable…. uh….memory – that’s it!  Memory, reminded me that, when I am playing my free online game of Solitaire, I am often cajoled to BUY the game Gambino Slots.  Gambino??!  Dear Lord – the Italian mob owns my computer games.

Too lazy to think, I began running them through a couple of translation programs.  The problem is that, because they are proper names, the computer just gives back the same spelling in either language.  Just as I clicked the button to switch from Spanish to Portuguese, for a fraction of a second, the word ‘stem’ appeared.  😳  Duh, FACEPALM!

facepalm-cat

Now, I knew where I was going.  Not stem, but LEG!  I fearlessly ventured on into French.  There, the equivalent name is Cambe, a spelling variation of the word jambe – a leg.  An uncommon English version is Camby.  The French word for ham – a pig’s leg – is jambon.

This even explained the old gangster word referring to a good-looking woman’s legs.  Back during WWII, Betty Grable, and others, had ‘great gams.’

Betty Grable

 

I would like to claim that I came up with a great idea for the letter G, in this A to Z Challenge, but I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.  It was the daughter who suggested this.  You keep coming around to read, and I’ll keep pumping out this dreck interesting trivia.

’20 A To Z Challenge – D

A To Z ChallengeLetter D

Death

I am the God of Hellfire and in this episode of the A to Z Challenge, I bring you

D’EATH

(deeth)
This little-known English word is almost as uncommon as the imported surname. The D’eath family originally lived in the town of Ath in Belgium. There it would have been rendered D’Ath, or De Ath, meaning from Ath. It was also occasionally an occupational name for a gatherer or seller of kindling. In this case, the name is derived from the Middle English word dethe, which in turn is derived from the Old English word dyth, which means fuel or tinder.

Families with the name D’eath might know where it came from and what it meant. The word’s other reference is to the rather sketchy occupation, whose bundles of firewood sticks known as faggots, have deteriorated into a modern insult for homosexuals. To the superstitious, this, and its similarity to the word ‘death,’ make them uneasy when they encounter it.

Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey DSO is the fictional protagonist in a series of detective novels and short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers (and their continuation by Jill Paton Walsh ). A dilettante who solves mysteries for his own amusement, Wimsey is an archetype for the British gentleman detective.

In one book, the hero investigates a suspicious fatality at a company doing sensitive government work. He poses as the man’s replacement, under the name Peter D’eath, telling the manager that he hopes it will startle the guilty party into somehow revealing himself. It was an amusing but needless literary device, because the author goes on to show that it was a prank of a mail-room teen with a slingshot – an English ‘catapult’ – which caused the man to fall down a flight of stairs.

’19 A To Z Challenge – W

AtoZ2019letter-w

 

 

All right everyone, put down your Magic Potions texts, grab your Butter Beer, and we’re off to visit Harry Potter’s friends

Butter Beer

Witch

a person, now especially a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice magic or sorcery; a sorceress. Compare warlock
a woman who is supposed to have evil or wicked magical powers:

Wizard

a person who practices magic; magician or sorcerer.
a conjurer or juggler.

Also whiz, wiz. a person of amazing skill or accomplishment:

Warlock

a man who professes or is supposed to practice magic or sorcery; a male witch; sorcerer.

a fortuneteller or conjurer.

Wyvern

a two-legged winged dragon having the hinder part of a serpent with a barbed tail.

It is one of the vagaries of the English language, that many of the things in Harry Potter’s world begin with the letter W. Aside from the examples above, there are also his magic Wand, his friends and support, the Weasley family – whose forebears came from the village of Westleigh – one of whom, Ginny, (Virginia) became his wife.

Want to know what I’ve dreamed up for the letter X?? You’ll have to wing back over in a couple of weeks. Don’t make me get out my Attraction Spells scroll. 😉 😀

***

Last year, for my Q for quilts challenge post, I showed a picture of the winner in the local Mennonite Relief Auction.  While complex and impressive, I much prefer the recently announced winner of this year’s contest. I like bold blues and geometric shapes, and this one has both.  It’s called Fire Island Hosta Queen.  Here’s a picture of it – do you like it too?