’19 A To Z Challenge – O

Tattooed Lady

This blog-post will be short and sweet, just like its inspiration

OLIVIA

Olivia, Olivia, have you seen Olivia,
Olivia, the tattooed lady?

Oh, wait! That should be Groucho Marx singing about Lydia, The Tattooed Lady, (Click if you’d like to hear it.) full of racy, risqué, double entendres. The song was first sung in 1939, and it’s easy to include extra little references. When Americans got off their lazy, isolationist asses, and got into WW II, Groucho included the verse, “When she stands, the world gets littler. When she sits, she sits down on Hitler.

I can’t figure out how to make any portion of this post about me, so I’ll just include a link to the one where I debated getting a tattoo myself, for any of you who didn’t see it – and are desperately bored. At least Groucho is dead, and can’t compose a derogatory song about a Grumpy Old Tattooed Dude.

Olivia, as a name, means “Peace.” It comes from ‘olive’, both the tree and the fruit, which comes from the Italian, olea, which is the oil that middle-eastern people learned early to squeeze out. Christians like to claim that the phrase ‘Extend an olive branch,’ which is an offer of peace, comes from the Bible story of the dove returning to Noah with an olive leaf, or twig. But Greeks and Egyptians were using the olive branch 500/700 years B.C.

Olivia was not a common name for centuries. William Shakespeare is often credited with inventing it, but it existed at least 300 years before he included it for a character in Twelfth Night. He only made it a little more well-known and popular. Even a century ago, it was the 2285th most (least) common girls name.

All that changed in 1986, when Disney Studio released the animated movie, The Mouse Detective, with a cute little female mouse named Olivia Flaversham, and impressionable young mothers began naming their daughters Olivia. More recently, the Disney Channel compounded the interest by offering an animated series named Elena of Avalor. It’s an historic magic story-line, with a young female named Olivia, as assistant to a wizard. As a result, in 2018, the name Olivia was the 3rd most common girls’ name in The United States, and the 2nd most popular in Australia.

I luvya Olivia. Please come back in a couple of days, for some more useless trivia. 😀

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I’ve Never Herd Of Smith

People Named Smith
H. Allen Smith once wrote a book titled People Named Smith. This was a financial move on his part, as he knew that if only five percent of the Smiths in the United States bought the book, he would be able to retire rich. Unfortunately, he discovered that “almost everyone named Smith is either (1) stingy, or (2) illiterate, or (3) both.”

He did this because Mark Twain had shown him how. Twain claimed that he had met a John Smith in every town he had ever been in, and cynically dedicated his first novel to “John Smith,” claiming that people who have a book dedicated to them, will purchase a copy of it.

Captain John Smith was an explorer of note, and an island he discovered near Cape Charles was named “Smith Island” after him. However, Captain Smith wasn’t happy with the island chosen to honor him, and he complained, “Why, I could spit across it.”

The book is mainly about names, and not all of them were of people named Smith. He once met an imposing man, when invited on a cruise on a yacht in the Caribbean. Not impressed with the commonness of his name, Smith, he declared, “A man’s name is a mere label – nothing else – and has no more meaning than the label on a can.

The gentleman disagreed, and introduced himself. He was Theron Lamar Caudle, the assistant Attorney-General of the United States. His name was all old Anglo-Saxon, and represented a complete sentence. Theron means ‘go seek.’ Lamar means ‘the sea,’ and Caudle is a ‘hot toddy.’ Translated literally, it means, “Go seek a hot toddy by the sea,” and here he was, with a drink in his hand, on a boat, in the Caribbean.

People afflicted with the last name Smith, sometimes go to lengths to have a first name of some significance which sets them apart from all the other multitudes of Smiths. Labels are important to many, although one Appalachian mother cared so little that she insisted to the interviewer, that the official names of her two kids, on the ‘Guv’mint papers, really was Shithead and Fartface Smith.’

One child was named 5/8 Smith. I don’t know if he was the runt of the litter, or maybe, just not all there. One father christened his son Smith, so that he went through life with the double-barreled name of Smith Smith. A photographer, whose work appeared in newspapers and magazines, legally changed his given name to Another, because he was tired of hearing, “Oh, another Smith.”

One day the author was speaking to a writer friend. They discussed some personal things, and then he said, “What are you working on these days?”
“I’m collaborating on a book.”
“With whom?”
“Man named Ira Smith.”
“You serious??”
“Certainly I’m serious.”
He said, “My God, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’m collaborating on a book with a man named Ira Smith.”

It was true. The other writer was working on the memoirs of Ira R. T. Smith, who for 51 years had been in charge of mail at the White House. At the same time, H. Allen Smith had been working on a book of baseball anecdotes with Ira L. Smith, a Washington journalist.

Ira wouldn’t seem to be an especially common first name, yet Ira L. had had his share of confusions. He was forever getting newspaper clippings from friends;
Ira Smith caught drunk driving in Georgia
Ira Smith an upstate New York cabbie, kidnapped, robbed, tied to a tree, and murdered
Ira L. Smith, a retired Virginia lumberman, dying at the age of 91

He even had a newspaper ad which said;

FOOL your friends. Pretend you are in San Francisco
3 postcards sent 25 cents (20-$1) You write
message, address, return. I remail in San Francisco
Letter mailed 15 cents. Your friends will think
you’re travelling. Ira Smith, 153 Liberty St., San
Francisco, Calif.

The middle name of our Ira L. Smith was Lepouce, his mother’s Belgian maiden name, meaning ‘the thumb’. He was once under consideration for a great job in Washington, but a senior executive named Smith, didn’t want him hired. There were already too many Smiths in the office, and he didn’t want another one messing up phone calls and mail.

Ira went to the man, and offered to apply his middle name to all phone calls and correspondence. The exec replied, “Anyone who would permit himself to be called I. Lepouce Smith in order to get a job must want that job pretty badly. You’re hired.”

The author mentions a situation called Ultra-Smith, where one Smith marries another. My sister did this, confusing all sorts of folks. As you climb down from the family tree, EVERYBODY is named Smith.

(* I have a framed reproduction of a Feb. 13, 1923 Saturday Evening Post cover, with a Norman Rockwell painting and an article about Wodehouse’s recent Psmith book, which refused to upload to WordPress.  It, and a mug with his name, Cyril, were all I got from the nursing home when my Father died.  I didn’t even know he had it.  Perhaps if/when I figure out the problem, I can display it in a later post.)

In England, we have the interesting case of Mr. Psmith, a dashing young character invented by P. G. Wodehouse. In the novel Leave It to Psmith, we find him engaged in a colloquy with a young woman.

“The name is Psmith, P-smith.”
“Peasmith, sir?”
“No, no. P-s-m-i-t-h. I should explain to you that I started life without the initial letter, and my father always clung ruggedly to the plain Smith. But it seemed to me that there were so many Smiths in the world that a little variety might well be introduced. Smythe I look on as a cowardly evasion, nor do I approve of the too prevalent custom of tacking on another name on the front by means of a hyphen. So I decided to adopt the Psmith. The P, I should add for your guidance, is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan. You follow me?

This Smith book was written in 1952, which explains the ancient, minuscule postage fees, and the somewhat formal construction. Aside from the P-ed off words above, the author used ‘expatiate,’ which means, to enlarge in discourse or writing; be copious in description or discussion: ramble on and on – which I’ve done magnificently with this post. Thanx for rambling along with me, and some of my questionable namesakes.

THAT GETS MY GOAT

Goat

Two guys are walking through the woods and come across this big deep hole. 

“Wow…that looks deep.” “Sure does… toss a few pebbles in there and see how deep it is.” 

They pick up a few pebbles and throw them in and wait… no noise. 

“Jeeez. That is REALLY deep… here.. throw one of these great big rocks down there. Those should make a noise.” 

They pick up a couple of football-sized rocks and toss them into the hole and wait… and wait. Nothing. 

They look at each other in amazement. One gets a determined look on his face and says, “Hey…over here in the weeds, there’s a railroad tie. Help me carry it over here. When we toss THAT sucker in, it’s GOTTA make some noise.” 

The two drag the heavy tie over to the hole and heave it in. Not a sound comes from the hole. 

Suddenly, out of the nearby woods, a goat appears, running like the wind. It rushes toward the two men, then right past them, running as fast as its legs will carry it. Suddenly it leaps in the air and into the hole. 

The two men are astonished with what they’ve just seen… 

Then, out of the woods comes a farmer who spots the men and ambles over. 

“Hey… you two guys seen my goat out here?” 

“You bet we did! Craziest thing I ever seen! It came running like crazy and just jumped into this hole!” 

“Nah”, says the farmer, “That couldn’t have been MY goat. My goat was chained to a railroad tie.”

***

Scottish Flag

A Scotsman walks into a Glasgow library and says to the chief librarian,

‘Excuse me Miss, dey ye hae ony books on suicide?’

To which she stops doing her tasks, looks at him over the top of her glasses and says, ‘Bugger off, ye’ll no bring it back!’

***

A thoughtful Scottish husband was putting his coat and hat on to make his way down to the local pub.

He turned to his wee wife before leaving and said, “Maggie — put your hat and coat on, lassie.”

She replied, “Aw, Jock, that’s nice, are you taking me tae the pub with you?”

“Nae,” Jock replied. “I’m turning the heat off while I’m out.”

***

A clearly inebriated woman, stark naked, jumped into a taxi in New York City and lay down on the back seat.

The cab driver, an old Jewish gentleman, opened his eyes wide and stared at the woman. He made no attempt to start the cab.

The woman glared back at him and said, “What’s wrong with you, honey? – Haven’t you ever seen a naked woman before?”

The old Jewish driver answered, “Let me tell you sumsing, lady. I vasn’t staring at you like you tink; det vould not be proper vair I come from.”

The drunk woman giggled and responded, “Well,if you’re not staring at my boobs or ass, sweetie, what are you doing then?”

He paused a moment, then told her…”Vell, M’am, I am looking and I am looking, and I am tinking to myself, ’Vair in da hell is dis lady keeping de money to pay for dis ride?’

***

A boy was bagging groceries at a supermarket. One day the store installed a machine for squeezing fresh orange juice. Intrigued, the young man asked if he could be allowed to work the machine, but his request was denied.

Said the store manager, “Sorry, kid, but baggers can’t be juicers.”

—–

One caller to our answering service gave me his name, number and message and then said, “You know my name. What’s yours?”

“4136,” I replied, since we were allowed only to give our operator numbers.

Sounding disappointed, he said, “May I call you by your first digit, or would that be too personal?”

—–

As we stood in formation at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, our Flight Instructor said, “All right! All you dummies fall out.”

As the rest of the squad wandered away, I remained at attention.

The Instructor walked over until he was eye-to-eye with me, and then just raised a single eyebrow.

I smiled and said, “Sure was a lot of ’em, huh sir?”

—–

The chairman of the board of our company called me into his office to tell me the good news. I was being promoted to Vice President of Corporate Research and Planning.

Of course, I was excited, but that didn’t stop me from asking for my new title to be changed to Vice President of Corporate Planning and Research.

“Why?” asked the chairman.

“Because,” I said, “our organization uses abbreviated job titles, and I don’t want be known as VP of CRAP.”

***

 

’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. 😀

Auto Prompt – Knowledge Challenge – Combermere

It all started so innocently, as most of them usually do, though this one was unusual, because it involved my often less-than-innocent Scottish ancestors.

Scottish Flag

I needed a four-letter crossword solution for ‘sea’, starting with M. Five minutes later, working sideways, I had ‘mere’? 😕 Quick Archon, to the dictionary. I soon found that the Scots, through a mouthful of oatmeal porridge, had turned the French word ‘mer’ into ‘mere.’

Through my Scottish heritage, I knew that there was a small Southern-Ontario town named Combermere, and one back in the UK. The word ‘comber’ has two pronunciations. There is the usual English Coe-mrr, which is a person or device which combs. Also, a large, long wave, which can strip (comb) things off a beach as it crashes ashore, is a comber. Then there is the Scottish Comm-Brrr, which is used for personal and place names. I once heard two women refer to a man, whose name of Comber they’d read but not heard, as Coe-mrr. As a Scot, I knew better. What did those old kilt-wearers mean when they put those two words together?

20180424_161147

I quickly learned that the mere was no vast sea. It was merely a wee mountain lake – a tarn. The ground around it was too rocky for agriculture, so sheep were raised. However pronounced, the word comber had the same meaning. Once the sheep were sheared, and before the wool was spun to thread and woven into bright Tartans, it was combed (carded), whether by hand, like the hand-carders above, from my Gadgets post, or with a hand-cranked, mechanical device.

The shearing of hundreds of sheep produces a lot of fleece. While the men were busy tending to the now-nude creatures, the women combed, and combed, and combed. Combermere became the name for a pastoral little village which grew up at the lower edge of a Scottish lake, renowned for its yarn and woven cloth.

Don’t look for it there now. Time, and society, and politics changed over the centuries. All that’s left is the Combermere Abbey, in England, near the northern border of Wales. It was named for an Earl of Combermere, which title was given to an Englishman, after James VI of Scotland became James I of England.

If you’re interested in some hand-carded fleece, or hand-spun yarn, or hand-knitted or crocheted apparel, join the daughter, Ladyryl, at her blog, or at http://www.facebook.com/frogpondcollective. She’ll show you how it was done in the Goode Olde Dayes.

’19 A To Z Challenge – B

Letter BAtoZ2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all started with a block of cheese at Costco.

Balderson

I never know when a language lesson will rear its ugly head. It was on a recent Costco run, when one leaped (or is that leapt??) out at me. The wife wanted to buy another block of Cheddar cheese, to provide dietary source of calcium for me. Instead of taking Costco’s house-brand – Kirkland – she asked me if I would take one that was on sale, named

Balderdash

senseless, stupid, or exaggerated talk or writing; nonsense.

Obsolete . a muddled mixture of liquors.

Related words; jargon, crock, claptrap, rot, bunk, tripe, rigmarole, drivel, moonshine, poppycock, bull, malarkey, fustian, trash, fudge, twaddle, flummery, bosh

For a word that means nothing, it sure has a lot of synonyms. The dictionary omitted the most recent one – Donald Trump. It’s another great old word that the hipsters don’t have time to use, IMHO. The name that she meant to use, was

Balderson

This interesting surname is of medieval English origin, and is an assimilated form of the locational name Balderston(e), which is itself derived from two places so called in Lancashire. The earliest recording in 1172 (Whitaker’s “History of Whalley”‘) appears as “Balderestone”; in the Feet of Fines as “Baldreston” in 1256; and as “Baldreston” in the Court Rolls of 1323. Balderson derives from an Olde English pre 7th Century personal name “Baldhere”, composed of the elements “beold”, brave, and “here”, army, with “tun”, a settlement. During the Middle Ages, when it was becoming more common for people to migrate from their birthplace to seek work elsewhere, they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name.

This is the kind of claptrap, drivel, trash, etc. that I serve you when I’ve been distracted, debating with Apologists, and wait till the last minute to compose an A To Z Challenge post. At least it had cheese sauce on it – tasty little morsel.  I promise that Wednesday’s offering will be a little more entertaining and informative. I hope to see you here then   😀

A To Z - Survivor

Cuz I forgot to add this image to my ‘A’ post, two weeks ago

’18 A To Z Challenge – Z

Letter ZChallenge '18

 

Zat’s it folks. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but I’m going to close out this year’s A To Z Challenge, with another word that doesn’t exist. I’m gonna call you a

Zwilnick

When a writer, particularly a science-fiction author, wishes to present a different culture, and needs words or phrases, it’s often easiest to choose and disguise one that already exists here on Earth.

In the Battlestar Galactica movie and TV series, the word for a long time period was ‘Jahren.’ In German, the word for year is jahr. Most German words which are plural, end in ‘en,’ but jahr is an exception. It means both ‘year,’ and ‘years.’ Jahren sounds German, but isn’t quite.

When E. E. (Doc) Smith wrote his Lensman series, he identified the bad guys as Zwilnicks. He even has one of the characters ask, “Why are they Zwilnicks? We call them Zwilnicks. They even call themselves Zwilnicks.” It sounds like it might be German, or Polish, but it’s just the imaginative invention of a great Sci-Fi writer.

The Star Wars universe introduced us to the planet Naboo, which may be a takeoff on Nauvoo (Illinois), one of the birthplaces of Mormon, a silly little Christian sect that promises each of its followers, an entire planet – like Naboo?? – when they die. Its original Human settlers arrived on it by accident, and it shows what a planet would look like if it were settled completely by Hindu Indians.

I am dismayed and disappointed at the number of Star Wars fanatics who refer to the ruler of the planet as ‘Padmé Amidala.’ I watched the movie (and paid attention.) She introduced herself clearly, giving both her name, and her title. She is Padmé Nabaré – Queen Amidala, – in the same way that the leader of the Catholic Church is Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis.

In the ‘60s, the Walt Disney television show expanded, what was to be a single episode, into a three-show arc, about a 20ish Mexican beggar/grown-up street urchin, named Elfego Baca. Later language study revealed that the initial V in a word like that is pronounced like a B in Spanish, so that “Baca” is actually “Vaca.” Vaca translates to ‘calf,’ and ‘elfego’ means flatulence. I believe that some of the Spanish-speaking writers slipped one over on the English-speaking producers and audience, and aired a “Disney” show about a Chicano, derisively nicknamed ‘Calf Farts.’

That’s all the alphabetic challenge for last/this year, in English, or any other language, real or imagined. Tune in again in a couple of weeks, and see me meander down some strange lanes with the 2019 version.

Ahhh, I managed to survive another year.  Here’s to the next one!  😀

A To Z - Survivor