’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.   😆

BEDA Warning

For years I have been lithely and nimbly avoiding the April A To Z Challenge trap, by spreading my weight out over the entire year.  This year I have been ensnared in the BEDABlog Every Day in April Challenge.  I have decided to – not abandon my Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting schedule – but add to it.

To my 13 regularly-scheduled April posts, I will add another 17, to sate the month, and my readers.  Many of the extra posts will be like little mental flickers from a 4th of July sparkler – like my 100-word Flash Fictions – a quick, bright idea, there and then gone.  Others may be a little wordier.  Oh good.  Thanx for the warning.

I had 45 unpublished posts in the can, in a Word file, when I found out about this, and I’ve already composed a couple of short new ones.  If any of my readers have an idea, a topic, a prompt, something they wish discussed, researched or satirized, feel free to submit your subject in the comments.

Why couldn’t I do this in February, when there’s only 28 days??!  😳

Onward and upward!  Excelsior!

Tu Quoque

A Christian Apologist walked into a bar….
No he didn’t.  Don’t be silly.  They don’t walk into bars.
He walked into a church and had some communion wine because
Jesus turned water into wine, and said alcohol is good for you.
He made some drunken accusations about a well-known Atheist.
I accused him of Tu Quoque.
(Which means Christians do the same things, but claim to be better than everybody else)
He denied it, and claimed that I was ‘projecting.’
He said – She said

The rest is THISTORY

Frustrated and angry about the ongoing actions and attitudes of Christians, Christianity, the Christian Church, and specifically the Catholic Church, P Z Meyers indulged in a little hypothetical hyperbole.  To present it as if you believed it literally, is either incredibly naïve, or an intentional lie.  Likewise, to take the angry rant of one Atheist, and present it as if it were somehow The Official Atheist Position, is also naïve or a lie.

You admit that Meyers supposedly has the same actions and attitudes that some Christians do.  To castigate the Atheist, and then even imply that Christians still hold the moral high ground is the Tu Quoque fallacy that I mentioned.  This is not projection!  This is cold, hard logic, and demonstrable fact.

You complained that Meyers advocated (he didn’t) burning down the churches of the very Indigenous People he tries to support.  These are the same churches which were thrust, unwanted, upon them – which stifled and strangled their native spirituality – and treated them like shit for centuries.  Meyers honestly believes that they would be better off without them.  Mentioning burning them down is a bit over-the-top, for effect.  I agree with Schadenfreude’s suggestion that they could be made much better use of in other, non-church ways.

As for the old Nazi-wannabe….  Meyers does not believe in Heaven or Hell.  He doesn’t think that there will ever be any final punishment for this man’s evil ways.  Even if God and Heaven were to exist, he can still sneak out through the Holy loophole by confessing his sins and asking for forgiveness.

Fair is where you take your pig to have it judged, but Meyers obviously feels that the universe would a little fairer place if this man suffered in retribution in the here and now – the only time and place that we can be sure that he will pay for his many transgressions.

Kevin, below, wants to write him a free pass because he wasn’t quite the asshole that Hitler was.  This was only through lack of ability and lack of opportunity, not through any lack of trying.  His ideology – his evil – his sin – is precisely the same.  Any difference in size is irrelevant.

In your follow-up post, you maunder on about Meyers putting someone through a wood-chipper.  He would not do such a thing!  He did not even advocate that anyone should do this!  What he PRECISELY said was, if all that Regnery did, was put one person into a wood-chipper, as horrible and gruesome as that might be, it would still be less evil and cause less pain and suffering to others, than what Regnery has achieved over many years.

Your rants might have a firmer base if you stopped assigning thoughts and claims to others, and studied and understood satire, sarcasm, and hyperbole.  But then, what’s the fun of dishing out the truth?  😯

Book Review #22

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

Mark Twain, making fun of Christians’ beliefs about heaven. 

The book: Captain Stormfield’s Visit To Heaven

The author: Mark Twain = Samuel Langhorne Clemens

The review: This is a short story written by Mark Twain, about 1868. It was not published until 1909 – 41 years later – because it was thought to insult all the Good Christians.

The story follows Captain Elias Stormfield on his decades-long cosmic journey to Heaven; his accidental misplacement after racing a comet; his short-lived interest in singing and playing the harp (generated by his preconceptions of heaven); and the general obsession of souls with the celebrities of Heaven such as Adam, Moses, and Elijah, who according to Twain become as distant to most people in Heaven as living celebrities are on Earth (an early parody of celebrity culture). Twain uses this story to show his view that the common conception of Heaven is ludicrous, and points out the incongruities of such beliefs with his characteristic adroit usage of hyperbole.

Much of the story’s description is given by the character Sandy McWilliams, a cranberry farmer who is very experienced in the ways of Heaven. Sandy gives Stormfield, a newcomer, the description in the form of a conversational question-and-answer session. The Heaven described by him is similar to the conventional Christian Heaven, but includes a larger version of all the locations on Earth, as well as of everywhere in the universe (which mention of, albeit as a backdrop, is the last science fiction element).

All sentient life-forms travel to Heaven, often through interplanetary or interstellar space, and land at a particular gate (which are without number), which is reserved for people from that originating planet. Each newcomer must then give his name and planet of origin to a gatekeeper, who sends him in to Heaven.

Once inside, the person spends eternity living as it thinks fit, usually according to its true (sometimes undiscovered) talent. According to one of the characters, a cobbler who “has the soul of a poet in him won’t have to make shoes here,” implying that he would instead turn to poetry and achieve perfection in it.

On special occasions a procession of the greatest people in history is formed; on the occasion of Stormfield’s arrival, this includes Buddha, William Shakespeare, Homer, Mohammed, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah plus several otherwise unknown people whose talents far exceeded those of the world’s pivotal figures, but who were never famous on Earth.

As Stormfield proceeds through Heaven he learns that the conventional image of angels as winged, white-robed figures bearing haloes, harps, and palm leaves is a mere illusion generated for the benefit of humans, who mistake “figurative language” for accurate description (the wings are part of their uniforms, and not functionally wings); that all of Heaven’s denizens choose their ages, thus aligning themselves with the time of life at which they were most content; that anything desired is awarded to its seeker, if it does not violate any prohibition; that the prohibitions themselves are different from those envisioned on Earth; that each of the Earth-like regions of Heaven includes every human being who has ever lived on it; that families are not always together forever, because of decisions made by those who have died first; that white-skinned people are a minority in Heaven; that kings are not kings in Heaven (Charles II is a comedian while Henry VI has a religious book-stand), etc.

Making fun of slavery was one thing, but making fun of people’s cherished Christian beliefs was something else entirely. This book never did well, and even many Twain aficionados are not aware of it.

 

My First (Imaginary) Car

Old Jalopy

Once upon a time, I owned a car – not of my dreams, but in my dreams. It had a 1-1/2 cylinder engine, and ran on Macassar Oil. Since I was much younger when I imagined it, it was a much older make. It was a Rolls-Cunardly. It Rolls real good down hills, but Cunardly make it up the other side.

It didn’t come with all the creature comforts that today’s cars possess. In fact, I don’t remember any comfort at all. It didn’t have a windshield because, even at its top, blazing speed, the breeze flow wouldn’t equal a hot-air hand dryer.

Its balky, 5-speed gearbox was shifted with a long, floor-mounted handle, in a wide W pattern. In first gear, you could have checked what was in the glove compartment, except this car only had a shelf where, until recently, a red lantern was kept, that a footman had to precede the vehicle with.

You couldn’t put it in second gear if there was a lady in the car – although my girlfriend Muriel, said she enjoyed the vibration. Putting it in third would have allowed you to tune the radio, if it had one. Even if it did, all you’d have heard were the faint beeps that Marconi got, when someone told him to go fly a kite in Newfoundland.

Fourth gear would have allowed you to check your pocket change, but there was no need, since neither toll roads nor parking meters had been invented. Fifth gear was where it began overtaking garden snails. Care had to be taken, not to hit the simple on/off switch on the steering column, and shut it down.

Keys, and locks, and security systems were dreams for the future. Who would steal this monster? I left it running in front of a store one day, and came back to find a silver dollar and a note on the seat. You poor lad, I feel so sorry for you. Buy yourself a bicycle.

Where was reverse, you ask? Toward the top of a steep hill! The brakes were mechanical, and none too reliable. Just don’t park anywhere it was necessary to back up – or convince two husky bystanders to push it back for you. I used a crank-start system to get it going. Not the bent, metal thing. I got the grouchy old guy named Archon who lived next door, to help push me and bump-start it.

Some of the above details might not be accurate. They’re just intended to remind the Millennials about how tough we old coots had to be. Actually turn on a stove and cook food??! Ewww! My condo doesn’t even have a stove. Couldn’t you just tell your smart phone to call Skip The Dishes, or DoorDash, and have your meals delivered? 🙄

2019 List Of Books Read

Take Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,, stir well, blame it on Shakespeare, and claim you read it all, last year.

In no particular order:

Abaddon's Gate

One of the big books that ‘The Expanse’ TV series is based on. They broadcast one book per year, so I have to read two, to get ahead of the story arc, and stay ahead.

 

A Brief History of Time

It’s been available for several years, so I thought that I would educate myself. It’s not Dr. Seuss level, but Hawking does a good job of making a complex theory comprehensible to non-mathematicians.

 

alien-earth

Possibly only ever published as a pulp fiction, not paperback, I didn’t have a copy of this, along with my other Hamilton books. I found this, perhaps inadvertently attached to another article that I was researching..

 

Ballistic

A men’s’ action/adventure book, good for passing time in retirement. This is the third in a series. The first was terrible. The second was so-so. The story arc is improving. If I hadn’t already bought this one, I might never have.

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

Mark Twain, making fun of Christians’ beliefs about heaven. I’ll post a book-review later.

 

Chromosome 6

Like John Grisham’s work, Robin Cook’s is also dense. I read Coma, and liked it, but this one took me a while to struggle through.

 

Cibola Burn

This is the second of the Expanse books that I read last year. The next TV series became available on December 18/19, but I’m saving it till summer.

 

Duty And Honor

Tom Clancy’s ghost keeps pumping these out, and I keep reading them.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

I’ve already done a book-review on this one. Interesting enough, but too old to be relevant.

 

Fledgling

Fun but formulaic Science Fiction. The daughter of a University professor grows up with enhanced cognitive powers.

Galileo Goes to Jail, And Other Myths

Gilileo Goes To Jail

Research into Christianity vs. Secularism.

 

Jesus Interrupted

more research into Christianity vs. Secularism. The author has more than 20 books about the New Testament. I just can’t believe that he points out all the mistakes and contradictions…. yet says that he still believes.

 

Magic Stars

One of two I that I read, that are the last in this series. Magic in Atlanta. I’ve already started on another series by the same authors, Magic in Red Deer, Texas.

 

Monster Hunter Memoirs Saints

One well-known author butted into another’s series, and wrote two books. It took the first as much time and effort to edit them, and assure that they fit in the canon, as if he’d written them himself. The other title is Sinners, which I’ll read this year.

No Middle Name

A collection of Jack Reacher short stories.

 

Origin

Dan Brown’s latest – unless he’s released another one while I was publishing this list.

 

Paradox Bound

This author likes to play with alternate timelines & realities.

 

People Named Smith

It wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped – but then, perhaps people named Smith just aren’t interesting.

 

Recruit

A story about space marines. The blurb sounded good, but the book was Young Adult – nothing wrong, just nothing right.

Redshirts

A book about how the original Star Trek was real…. or was it??!

 

Small Magics

The last in this sword and werewolves series – unless the rabid fans convince the author couple to write another. They are quite prolific, with four concurrent series, and a couple of stand-alones.

 

The Bone Labyrinth

Not “Great Literature,” but a great time passer.

The Midnight Line

I’m reading these faster than Lee Child can write them. I will regret when the series ends. There are still two more ahead of me.

 

The Psychology Of Time Travel

Science Fiction and time travel from a woman’s point of view. More suspense than action, but interesting.

 

True Faith And Allegiance

I started this in Dec. but the need to read and return that next big Expanse book to the library in Jan. means that I’m just finishing it now.

Why Are You Atheists So Angry

Yet more Christians vs. Atheists research. Christian Apologists can be so irritating – unintentionally amusing and interesting – but irritating.

Even if you don’t have the time/energy to list all the books you read last year, do you have any specials that you’d like to mention?

Flash Fiction #137

God's Dice

PHOTO PROMPT© CEAyr

CONNECT THE DOTS

Steeped in the all-permeating Christian culture of the early Twentieth Century, Albert Einstein is said to have claimed that, “God does not play dice with the Universe.”

No less religious, but perhaps more pragmatic, Stephen Hawking insists that, “Of course God plays dice with the Universe. Just sometimes He throws them where we can’t see them.”

I don’t think that I’ve found evidence of God playing dice, but this might be proof of a minor god, or a giant, playing dominoes.  (Not ordering Domino’s – all gods and giants eat at Papa John’s or Pizza Hut.)  Is that a double six?

***

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

WOW #14

Wedding Cake Figures

When a couple get married, they march down the aisle, stop at the altar, and sing a hymn – and that’s what the bride is thinking – I’ll alter him.

A woman marries a man, thinking that she will change him – and he doesn’t.
A man marries a woman thinking that she will never change – and she does.

A bigamist is a man who makes the same mistake twice. A husband is a man who only makes that mistake once – although, there are the serial optimists/masochists who keep trying.  They could marry anyone they please – only they never please anyone.

The Word Of the Week is

TROTHPLIGHT

Definitions for trothplight

engagement to be married;
betrothal. to betroth.
betrothed.

Origin of trothplight
Trothplight comes from Middle English trouth plight meaning “having plighted troth” or “having pledged one’s faithfulness to another in engagement to marry.” It entered English in the 1300s.

I’ve included trothplight, just as proof that Dictionary.com does include old and odd words as click-bait.  We have lots of words in the English language that we still use and are a thousand years old.  This one though, is archaic.  It’s not commonly used any more.  It’s the kind of word found now only in the historical romance books that the wife (and the son) read.

The rigid moral and social rules and expectations that gave rise to the action and the word, no longer exist. Today’s equivalent would be, ‘shack up’, or, ‘let’s live together.’  I find it interesting, and perhaps ironic, that the word contains ‘plight,’ which comes from the same basis as ‘pledge’, but it also means

plight
noun
1.a condition, state, or situation, especially an unfavorable or unfortunate one:
to find oneself in a sorry plight.

Since the advent of Women’s Rights, more and more women are saying that they don’t need a man.
Since the advent of online porn, more and more men are saying that they don’t need the aggravation a woman.

The above light-hearted, satirical comedy has been brought to you by a Happily Married Man, who has only made one marriage mistake in almost 50 years – unless you talk to my wife.   😯

 

Flash Fiction #117

long-road

PHOTO PROMPT © Peter Abbey

IT’S A LONG ROAD THAT HAS NO TURNING

Women were not allowed to be doctors….because we’ve never allowed women to be doctors.

Negroes were not allowed to sit at the front of the bus….because we’ve never allowed blacks to do so.

Women were not considered ‘people’ and allowed to vote….because we’ve never allowed them to.

Women were not permitted to be priests and preachers….because they were never permitted.

We won’t authorize same-sex marriage….because it’s never been authorized.

Even if we’re forced to, we won’t allow them to call it marriage because we never have before.

It could be called circular logic, if there were any logic to it.

***

Today’s more-flat-fact than Flash Fiction Rant has been brought to you by:

FREETHINKERS ANONYMOUS

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And also by:

YOUR LOCAL PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION

Having trouble getting that giant EGO through the door? Does your neck hurt from constantly looking over your shoulder?  Come and see us, and in only 40 or 50 outrageously expensive visits, we’ll have that EGO and paranoia pared down, and prove to you that you’re nowhere near as important as you’d like other people to think you are.  Ossified opinions not included.  See your priest, preacher, or politician for details.

***

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

What’s Weird About English?

 

 

Grammar Nazi

 

 

 

 

 

You say Grammar Nazi like it’s a bad thing.  Weird Al Yancovic has just released his most recent album.  To promote it, he has also released 8 music videos of the new songs in 8 days, including one sung to the tune of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.  Not a parody of that song, it’s named Word Crimes, and contains lots of examples of what OCD word-nerds like me, rail about.

Weird Al

 

 

 

 

And so, I almost swooned when I read a recent post about it.  Written by a female English teacher, from south-east England, she had all kinds of strange questions and objections.  With regards to the English language: Why are there rules?  Why is one way correct, and all the other ways wrong?  Why is the pronunciation and usage of the south-east area of England the accepted norm?  That’s Classist!  We all manage to communicate.  English is an evolving language.

Where to start?  Where to start??!  If there are no rules, then in that direction lies anarchy and Babel.  Nowhere, in English, is there the equivalent of L’Office de la Langue Francaise, which insists on what is and is not allowed within the language.  However, like a newspaper style guide, there is an informal association of rather learned scholars, who have decided on the clearest and most accurate constructions and usages.

The speech of south-east England is the norm, because that’s where the Queen lives.  If we’re going to speak the Queen’s English, then we should speak it as she does.  We don’t need to use precisioneer grade language in all situations.  It is often best to speak or write for the level of the audience, but in general, we should aspire to better usage, not be content to roll around in the gutter of the likes of exclusionary Cockney rhyming slang.

We don’t “all communicate.”  We often barely manage to communicate.  Many attempts are laughable, tear-inducing or just eye-rolling.  English is indeed, an evolving language, but I would like the changes driven and guided more by intelligent scholars who have studied it, than by some pot-smoking dude with his name on his shirt – by those who know where it’s been, and where it should go.  We’ve seen some examples from Bob the burger-flipper, and they are not for the better.

She complained that Weird Al’s humorous little rant was too “Prescriptive,” that is, insisting that one way was correct and all others were different levels of wrong.  She felt that we should concentrate on “Descriptive” language, which allows people to be creative.  We had Hippies.  They didn’t work out.

Creative people are really not all that common.  They are the occasional goat among a fieldful of sheep, some of who think they’re creative, when really, they are all baa-ing, just in different accents.  You can be creative within the rules.  Often, the rules show where creativity starts, but a bottle full of urine, with the Pope’s picture in it, isn’t creative “Art,” that’s adolescent scatology.

Would you like some “Descriptive” descriptions of most of these “creative” people??!  Try Lazy, Iconoclastic, Inattentive, Incompetent, Uncaring, Rebellious, Entitled, Incomprehensible, and far too often, (Reverse) Classist.

They look down on education and proper usage, and insist that “they are as good as anybody else.”  Maybe in providing lube jobs, or French nails, but Bubba, there are people who can use words as effectively as you can use a torque-wrench or a nail-buffer.  These are the Bart Simpsons – underachievers, and proud of it.

Jeff Foxworthy admits the Southern U.S. accent is not the most sophisticated in the world, and you may be surprised when you get to Heaven, and St. Peter says, “Y’all git in the truck.  We’s goin’ up the big house.”  Maybe, but I’m betting against it.  If you don’t get out much, and are satisfied with sounding like the rest of the redneck yokels in “yer holler”, or the “known to Police” denizens of your urban slum – that’s okay.  I want to be able to efficiently and accurately communicate with English-speakers all over the country and around the world.

If this is the best that Our Miss Brooks offers to the formative and impressionable minds of her young students, then I truly worry for the future of our language, and our society.  Drop your socks and grab your….dictionaries.  Sound off – comprehensibly.