WOW #61

Syzygy

The planets have aligned, so it’s a propitious time for me to tell you that we Virgos are very skeptical, and don’t believe in all that Astrology BS.  Rochelle’s weekly FF picture didn’t provide me with any inspiration or creativity, but she did donate a lovely word for a WOW post.

SYZYGY

an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet:

A, I, and O (like O Canada, or O beautiful for spacious skies, in America The Beautiful – not Oh!), are the only words in the English language with no consonants in them – although U, in text-speak seems to be coming on strong.

SYZYGY is the longest word with no true vowels.  It is followed by slyly, and the kids, shy, sly, spy, sty, sky, try, fly, fry, why, cry, by, archaic thy, nymph, and lymph, as well as the crafty lynx. (Have I forgotten any?)  For many years, I thought – and I still wish – that it was pronounced sigh-zih-gee, so that it would demonstrate all three possible sound options for the almost-vowel, Y.  Sadly, it utters the more prosaic, sih-zih-gee.

It has a couple of other, even less common meanings:
Classical Prosody. a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds.
any two related things, either alike or opposite.

Does this mean that an ash tray, and a frying pan, somehow have a SYZYGY, because they are both objects in my house that people put something into??!  😯

Ahh, English; that beautiful, yet bizarre language.  You don’t have to be crazy to want to try to learn how to speak/write it.  We will train you.  😳  I am also trying to train you to stop back again next week.  Whoever finds and drags back Erato, my muse, before I need her for next week’s Flash Fiction, receives a complementary serving of French toast.  😀

Have You Ever Called The Police?

BC Mountie

In the wake of the George Floyd, Black Man Death By Minnesota Cop fiasco, MSN’s daily poll asked
Have you ever called the police?

Usually, they show up just when you don’t want them.  When it happens to someone else, we revel in the schadenfreude.  I was recently held up at a major intersection by a driver who – finally – made an illegal left turn…. right in front of a cop car.

The only time I ever called the police was the night that I was a little late for my Security Guard shift at a downtown hotel.  I was allowed to park free in the hotel’s parking garage, and keeping an eye on its contents was part of my job.

Around 2 AM, I noticed a teenage boy wandering among the cars, and went out to accost him.  He quickly disappeared.  I went to my car to get my lunch and found that, in my haste, I was the only one who forgot to lock my car.  In a garage full of a hundred Cadillacs, BMWs, and Mercedes, he got into my little Volkswagen and lifted a cheap backpack, a towel, my lunch, two pocket books and a bag of hard candies.

With no hope of getting them back, I called the station to give a description and incident report.  Two hours later, a him-and-her cruiser team showed up to take a statement, and I was offered a beer from a six-pack they had on the front floor with them.

How comfortable do you feel when in the presence of police officers?
Very comfortable
Somewhat comfortable
Somewhat uncomfortable
Very uncomfortable
I don’t know

Somewhere between Somewhat, and Very Comfortable.  I begin with ‘White Man’s Privilege’.  I am far less likely to have a bad interaction, than members of many other groups.  I have been exposed to members of police forces at various levels, all my life.  I have seen them perform stupid, questionable, dangerous, and illegal acts (see six-pack, above).  I am not impressed.  They put on their egotistic persona one leg at a time, the same as I do.

My own self-confidence borders on arrogance, but that is a fine line that should not be crossed.  Police forces, and most individual officers – including the females – run on testosterone.  They like to feel that they are the alpha, but are realistic enough to accept that there are those above and outside them.  I can dismiss or discount them, but I’d better not disrespect.

It is best to sternly treat them as a schoolmarm would deal with a ten-year-old bully.  EVERYTHING is illegal.  If they think that they have been insulted, they have ways to make even an innocent man guilty.

When I worked as a Security Guard, I was accepted as one of the pack – a wolf cub – but one of them, someone in a uniform, trying to keep order.  Police don’t necessarily want to enforce the law.  They just want social peace and quiet.

Have you ever been stopped by the police?
Yes
No
I don’t know

I would be interested to meet the hermit who has never been stopped by the police, at least once in their life.  Just before I turned 13, a group of us yobs were returning from the beach bowling alley, down at the south edge of town, after it closed at 1 AM on a warm August night.  A half-block from the main street, there was a lane – an alley – which ran behind the stores, for deliveries.  The group had come to a stop while we discussed something.  I noticed headlights coming up the street behind us.  They got brighter, but they didn’t pass.

I turned, to see the local police cruiser nestling up to the group.  I threw a startled look, and took off running full-tilt up the alley.  Wellll….  Barney lit ‘em up – lights and siren, in hot pursuit.  If I had wanted to ‘escape,’ there were walkways.  I gave him room on one side and continued up the lane.  The cruiser screamed past, he cut me off…. and I calmly walked over to the car.

He tumbled out, and immediately demanded;
Why did you run??!
Because I can.
Where are you coming from?
The bowling alley.
What were you doing?
I just stared at him – fast food, girls, entertainment, swimming.
Well, why did you run??!
Exercise?  Youthful exuberance?
Where are you going?
Home.
Well, you make sure that you go straight home, (which he can’t legally demand) and don’t let me catch you (doing what?) again!

I have been waved over into several RIDE Program checkpoints, both in a car, and on my motorcycle, during the Oktoberfest drunken craziness week.
I was stopped while driving the daughter back from a dog breeder, because she was cuddling her adopted puppy on her chest/shoulder.  The patrolman marched up to the car, realized that she was holding a dog, and waved us on.  If you’re in an accident, it’s acceptable to kill a pet – but children must be restrained in approved car seats.  My Weekend Weak-End

I was stopped at 1:30 AM – in August – for going too fast in a school zone.  He was right, but he was also bored, and wanted to flex his legal muscle.  I didn’t get a speeding ticket, but a $30 fine for not having the most recent proof of insurance in the car.

I was stopped, driving three co-workers home after a 4PM to 1:30 AM shift at a railway warehouse on the edge of town.  We just reached the end of the driveway, when a cruiser went past to the right.  I turned left – in-town – but soon had flashing lights behind me.
What are you guys doing?
Going home after work at XXX Transport.
I didn’t know anybody worked out here on Saturday.
(Then you don’t know your patrol area well)
But officer, this is the end of a Friday night shift.
Oh…. yeah.  Okay, away you go.

The site manager, and the shipper, both drove past while we were detained, after stopping to lock the gate, and wanted to know what and why on Monday.

I am bewildered by the existence of an “I Don’t Know” option at the end of the second and third questions.  If you’ve been pulled over, or had to call the police, wouldn’t you know??  Wouldn’t it be exciting enough to be memorable??!

Martha, that time we had a home invasion, and those three guys with guns broke into the house, what did we do?  Did we go on the Dr. Phil Show?   🙄

’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.

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.

 

’20 A To Z Challenge – E

A To Z ChallengeLetter E

 

EEK and EGAD!! 24 hours before my self-imposed scheduled time to publish this E-post for the A To Z Challenge – I’m simultaneously composing three posts – and not one of them is this one. 😛 Unless I talked the son into mowing the lawn Sunday afternoon, you discovered a non-specific post on Monday morning, and this one moved to Wednesday.

I guess that I’ll make it about a mnemonic.
‘What’s a mnemonic, Johnny?’
A 1995, Keanu Reeves movie.

Actually, a mnemonic is something intended to assist the memory, as a verse or formula. One of the dumbest and most useless mnemonics that I’ve ever found, is

EUOUAE

Euouae definition

A type of cadence in medieval music. Origin: Taken from the vowels in the hymn Gloria Patri doxology: “seculorum Amen“. Euouae is a mnemonic which was used in medieval music to denote the sequence of tones in the “seculorum Amen” passage of the lesser doxology, Gloria Patri, which ends with the phrase In saecula saeculorum, Amen.

If you could/can write the Latin phrase, seculorum Amen, why would you need a reminder of the sequence of the vowels? Both the phrase, and the mnemonic, have been in use for over 500years. Only in the last 50/60 years has anyone felt the need to make it a word, and learn to pronounce it. It is the longest word in the English language with no consonants, an honor similar to being the greatest dogcatcher in Enid, Oklahoma.

Sadly, it is not an only child. Its bigger brother is

QUOMODOCUNQUIZE

A psalm or hymn cadence.

Is there something about Catholic Christianity, or religious music, which requires such ridiculous reminders??

The word is almost never used today, and definitely not outside the sphere of Church music. Somehow over the years, it acquired a secondary meaning of, to make money any way you can. The OED has no entry for quomodocunquize – to make money any way you can – but it does have one for quomodocunquizing, with a citation from Sir Thomas Urquhart in 1652: “Those quomodocunquizing clusterfists and rapacious varlets.” — The Orthoepist. September 16, 2010 – which is a book about the pronunciation of words.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect that the original hymns and psalms were mendicant – concerning begging, alms, financial support and donations – ergo; making money any way they could. Folks in ‘The Good Old Days’ sure had a lot more time, to say a whole lot less. I can not imagine expending the time and energy to even remember this word, much less enunciate it.

All hail technology!  My favorite mnemonics are manufactured by Acer, Dell, or even Apple.  😀

***

Yes!! I did it. I added the last words to this post, just as the sun was rising. That means that I’ll have to leap out of bed at the crack of noon, and mow that lawn myself. I’ll see you here tomorrow…. or is that today already?? 😕

’20 A To Z Challenge – C

A To Z ChallengeLetter C

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technological obsolescence! It’s a term to describe things that we no longer do or own, because our rapidly accelerating science-driven lifestyle has replaced them with something newer, although not always better. (Remember Windows Vista?) 😯 We’re on generation 12 of Smart phones, and the Chinese are providing the 5G cell phone system to run them on, as well as COVID19.

The telephone operator lost her job when dial phones came into existence. The dials turned into push-buttons, and the push-buttons morphed into touch screens. The poor English language is having trouble keeping up with it all.

Let me introduce you, and then say good bye, to

CHIROSPASM

Spasm of the muscles of the hand, as in writers’ cramp.

Now there’s an expression that you don’t hear any more. It was common for hundreds of years, from religious monks inscribing Bibles, up to school children frantically composing essays for English class all desperately, tightly, clutching quills, pens and pencils, till their hands cramped.

Then, along came the electronic age, with its word-processors and keyboards. Archaic old chirospasm and writer’s cramp have been replaced by hunched-over-the-keyboard data-entry shoulders, and your cell-phone-toting grandson’s texters’ thumb.

Fortunately, I have never sprained or strained either of my middle fingers, the ones so necessary to communicate with taxi drivers and politicians. That would be the only physical disability which might affect my capacity to express myself, although I am just an amateur, compared to some of the old masters.

Salmon Arm Salute IISalmon Arm Salute

From his seat inside a private rail car during a vacation in Salmon Arm, BC with his children on August 8, 1982, Pierre Trudeau, then the Prime Minister of Canada, gave the finger to protesters in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, earning the incident the nickname the “Salmon Arm salute”. The gesture itself has also been nicknamed the “Trudeau salute.”

Trudeau

Our young drama teacher ski instructor Prime Minister learned at the knee of one of the (self-described) greatest.

Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky

In my Poetry In Motion post, I groused that the poetry of some WordPress authors didn’t make a lot of sense. YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!! There is a small group of posters who don’t write poetry…. but what they do write can’t be classed as prose, either. I think a couple of them have swallowed random word generators – or non-prescription medication. They may be the authors of some of those strangely-worded spam comments that you get. Here are some examples.

I was heard the sea and are like unto the leopard and made the great favour with his neck and said Figold was handsome.

At a little finger is the sky where she had given to divert the latest news who have his dead and cried but Horn stayed at sunrise.

That would not recognising him to seawhere may be preserved from his real name and as he heard a band of brotherhood we will give birth and he heard these saw her! Better thou wilt hear the guardians of some evil would sooner be the offing.

HUH?? That was actually one of the more comprehensible. Here’s another.

We have the hand when I shall rather live, we are unconscious life of April last are enigmas.

To us that I will superintend their Circulating and in a square hole in the mischief-makers in reforming and in the funny books too large results given by Christian name, which they cover.

The responsibility of Socrates.

It exploded in us.

They are the country as the medium of independence, of taking the mature age of that things unto this particular I lifted my mind.

Notwithstanding, we might after the mental, moral wound within him.

Perhaps he has furnished great degree, and cutting off his wide from her own personality, however great.

Even the tanks, you that for we read in the seen within it, the Patriarch Nerses to accomplish some old as sensibly alters their planes and artists, leisured people, whilst it can solve some observations on Allison’s Fort and butchered before we got another example of dealing out a chapter of Nerves preserve their fatherland.

Is this some kind of code?? Are we supposed to read every fourth word?? Who spends the time and effort to type out and post this kind of thing – and why?? There seems to be a group of about 6 authors, who each can publish 2 or 3 posts every day of this kind of nonsense gobbledygook. I am at a loss to find any meaning or justification. Are they Pentecostals, “Speaking In Tongues??” Anybody got any idea…. or a translation?

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 #54

Boustrophedon

Here’s another in a long line of words that you’ll never use in polite company – or in any company, I would imagine.

BOUSTROPHÉDON

Languages that are written in the Greek, Cyrillic, or Latin alphabets, are written from left to right. It only makes sense. 90% of people are right-handed, and the right arm moves away from what is being written. Asian languages like Chinese and Japanese are written from the top down, vertically. At least they’re getting out of their own way.

Forgive me for being un-PC, but languages like Hebrew and Arabic are just stupid. Both cultures – Arabs worse than Jews – make a big deal about being left-handed. Somehow it’s evil, allied to Shaitan, The Devil. Yet these languages are written from right to left. It’s only in the last 75 years that technology has partly rescued them, with instant-drying ballpoint ink, and word processors. Before that, writers’ arms covered what had just been written, smudging or smearing the pen or quill ink.

Cuneiform

Boustrophedon is a Greek name for some of the much earlier Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform type of ‘writing.’   This was just wedge-shaped marks, pushed into soft clay tablets. Back and forth – to and fro. Since there was no ink to smudge, a line would be entered from left to right. Then the writer would just drop down a line, and enter the next one from right to left.

The word originally just referred to that form of writing, but the meaning, in Greek, is “oxen turning.” Nowadays, the very few times that it is used, (always by a licensed professional) it can refer to things like the back-and-forth pattern of tweed, or the appearance of an agricultural field which has been plowed – fortunately, with tractors, not oxen – back and forth, up and down, leaving a visual difference between alternating rows or strips.

Flash Fiction #221

Corona

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

FEAR SELLS

Danger! Danger, all about
Run in circles! Scream and shout!

Dig a hole, and pull it in after you.

‘Dog bites man’ doesn’t sell.
‘Man bites dog’ sells.

A man shoots up a brewery. Five are killed. Eight are wounded. What’s on the news?
One person in the US died of the corona virus.”

A man in Philadelphia is found with three assault rifles, a sniper rifle, three handguns, and 20,000 rounds of ammunition – and a cruise ship is refused docking in three countries because one crewman has the sniffles.

Stock up two weeks’ worth, and don’t leave the house.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site – apply hand sanitizer when you arrive, and again when you leave – and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Sorry! Once again, this is not so much Fiction, as sad reality – a truncated rant about how we are distracted, and distract ourselves, from far more important things. (Has Khloe Kardashian released a new makeup line?) Even firearms fatalities, as unfortunate and heart-wrenching as they may be, are massaged and manipulated. Ten times as many people are killed in traffic accidents, as in gun deaths, yet we hear no hue and cry to ban automobiles, outlaw Hummers, or confiscate pickup trucks.

Eh?? Did you have a comment? I wasn’t paying attention. ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes died when his steam rocket crashed.