Saturday, June 30, 2007

100 Werds You Should Know

Houghton Mifflin, which is a publisher of books, has published a book. See the picture there on the left. They've also published a press release about this book which you can see here.

"The words we suggest," says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, "are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language."

Now, I don't know about you, but for me, benchmarks are an iffy thing. I got a detention in grade 7 for making a benchmark. It (the benchmark, not grade 7) looked something like this:

(Come to think of it, grade 7 did look quite a bit like that.)

Sometimes I get so annoyed by my keepers here at the Yoni School, the so-called arbiters of the King's English, that I'd like to bite them. However, you need a good set of teeth to chew into such hide-bound arses. So, instead, I decided to take the 100-Werd challenge cuz I know these werds as good as any old high-school student. And I might incidentally ingratiate myself with somebody higher up in the school's ivory tower by demonstrating that I'm trying to be a good little pote and deserve time off for good behaviour.

So here are my offerings for the 100 Werd Challenge and, as Ringo Starr says, "I hope we passed the audition."
  1. abjure (Are you jure you wahd do do dis? Yes, I ab jure. I ab gombletely jure.)

  2. abrogate (Canada could have had a major aerospace industry, but it was Avrogated.)

  3. abstemious (The room was so abstemious it was like being in a sauna.)

  4. acumen (The upscale model of Honda.)

  5. antebellum (The cose akeep gittin lost. Uncle Sam sez to Aunt Jemima: Auntie! Bell 'em!)

  6. auspicious (Mergatroyd always gets auspicious when everything seems to be going right.)

  7. belie (The Belie Massacre during the Viet Nam War was a most shame-faced incident, not least because they tried to say it never happened.) (Small aside: didn't I just read somewhere that the Vietnamese people call that war, the Murrican War?)

  8. bellicose (Aunt Jemima sez: Bell who? Uncle Sam sez: Air ya deef? Bellicose!)

  9. bowdlerize (Historically speaking, because of their characteristic headgear, you might say that many British civil servants have been bowdlerized.)

  10. chicanery (Juan Valdez likes to use chicanery as a coffee substitute.)

  11. chromosome (Eddie loved his '53 Cadillac because it had so much chromosome.)

  12. churlish (Don't ever call me that!)

  13. circumlocution (This is a painful medical condition also known as 'forked tongue'. It occurs frequently among Jewish parents when they have to explain circumnavigation to their sons...See next werd.)

  14. circumnavigate (Ancient Jewish law requires parents to circumnavigate their male children.

  15. deciduous (I am quite deciduous in my quest for the truth.)

  16. deleterious (A Jewish cafeterious.)

  17. diffident (And now for something completely diffident...)

  18. enervate (Have you heard of the process of enervating foods to kill harmful bacteria?)

  19. enfranchise (Herve Tattoo is thinking about opening up a Dunkin' Donut enfranchise. De plain! De plane!)

  20. epiphany (I've always considered Beethoven's Fifth Epiphany to be his best.)

  21. equinox (This is simple. "Equi" comes from the Latin word meaning "horse". "Nox" is obviously related to "noxious". So, "equinox" means horse fart.

  22. euro (I'd say euro about five foot nine.)

  23. evanescent (Emmy is smart but Evan escent.)

  24. expurgate (Is it true James Joyce suffered from premature expurgation?)

  25. facetious (Perkins, there are so many facetious errors in this report that it's really no laughing matter!)

  26. fatuous (I didn't like that pork chop. It was way too fatuous.)

  27. feckless (Steve careened down the slope with feckless abandon.)

  28. fiduciary (Many neo-cons find it hard to trust our fiduciary.)

  29. filibuster (A filibuster is a hard nut to crack.)

  30. gamete (Some people don't like caviar because it tastes rather gamete.)

  31. gauche (Who is more gauche than a Bolivian cowboy?)

  32. gerrymander (The First-year Med students studied gerrymanders in anatomy class.)

  33. hegemony (Conrad called the bank to find out the exchange rate for hegemony.)

  34. hemoglobin (A new model of Chrysler automobile: the Hemo Goblin.)

  35. homogeneous (The first guy to call gays "gay" was a homo genius.)

  36. hubris (Caesar's chef garnished the salad with fresh sprigs of hubris.)

  37. hypotenuse (The hypotenuse spends most of its time in hot water.)

  38. impeach (Congress decided to impeach Clinton to prevent him from picking all the ripe cherries in the Rose Garden.)

  39. incognito (The Ambassador's personal mechanic told me my incognito was blown.)

  40. incontrovertible (A different new model of Chrysler automobile: the Incontrovertible.)

  41. inculcate (Inculcate...that's a brand of toothpaste that comes from China which has been in the news lately because apparently it contains some foreign substance. Of course it does, if it comes from China, which is a foreign country. Unless, of course, you're Chinese. This substance, however, is supposed to be bad because it absorbs into your blood without your knowledge and after a while you hardly notice the difference.)(Sorry for the long explanation, but I wanted to make sure you had the idea firmly planted.)

  42. infrastructure (I'm infrastructure, peace, order and good government. How about you?)

  43. interpolate (The international police agency.)

  44. irony (What you make fences out of: rotten irony.)

  45. jejune (Farhad was so nervous at his immigration hearing that, when asked his date of birth, all he could think of to say was, "Jejune?")

  46. kinetic (The Kinetic Indians were a restless, nomadic tribe of the Great Plains.)

  47. kowtow (It's almost embarrassing to have to say this. This is obviously what Aunt Jemima does with the kows when she takes em to market. First she bells em then she tows em.

  48. laissez faire (I went to the Laissez Fair last week because I decided, for once I'd do whatever I felt like.)

  49. lexicon (The upscale model of Toyota.)

  50. loquacious (The number one rule that every real estate agent knows: Loquacious, loquacious, loquacious!)

  51. lugubrious (I took my car in for oil and lugubrious.)

  52. metamorphosis (The butterfly begins life as a lowly metamorphosis.)

  53. mitosis (Mytosis broken!)

  54. moiety (This half of the pot is moiety, and that half is yourety. Lemon or milk?)

  55. nanotechnology (Something found in Canajun 25-cent pieces. Shhh! It's a secret! Don't tell anybody!)

  56. nihilism (As soon as it becomes an "ism" you're dead wrong.)

  57. nomenclature (I think it's about time the Speaker of the House introduced some decorum into the nomenclature.)

  58. nonsectarian (Teresa's mother agreed to visit the biology class only because it promised to be nonsectarian. She was morbidly afraid of creepy-crawlies.)

  59. notarize (I liked borrowing Jane's textbooks in university because they were all fully notarized in the margins.)

  60. obsequious (Just prior to his premature expurgation, Joyce's book was banned by the US under the Obsequious Laws.) ( I even managed to use two of the words in one sentence!)

  61. oligarchy (The pedanticist subscribed inserts for my shoes because I had fallen oligarchies.)

  62. omnipotent (Don Juan's appetite for women was insatiable. Luckily, he was omnipotent.)

  63. orthography (Orthography. O-R-G-O-P-H-R-A-P-H-Y. Orthogrpahy.)

  64. oxidize (Mickey polishes his Corvette with oxidize every week. He says it helps to keep it from rusting.)

  65. parabola (They say there are often live parabolas in the crates of fresh bananas.)

  66. paradigm (Two paradigms are not enough to buy a cup of coffee.)

  67. parameter (Two parameters are enough to make a respectable instrument panel.)

  68. pecuniary (Your concerns are much too pecuniary for a man of my station. In fact, they are so insignificant they hardly make cents at all.)

  69. photosynthesis (Photosynthesis is what occurs as a result of using Photoshop.)

  70. plagiarize (Before the computer, before the scanner, before the Xerox, before the Gestetner, before the printing press...if you wanted a copy you had to plagiarize it.

  71. plasma (It's either Elsie Dee or Plas Ma that makes TV go. Plas Ma also makes spaceships go. I think Plas Ma is Japanese.)

  72. polymer (Polymer want a cracker?)

  73. precipitous (The weatherman is calling for sudden downpours and heavy precipitous today.)

  74. quasar (An old brand of TV. Before Plas Ma made it go.)

  75. quotidian (You could look it up in Bartlett's Book of Famous Daily Quotidians.)

  76. recapitulate (The reporters were late for the signing of the Armistice, so the Generals were forced to recapitulate for the TV cameras.)

  77. reciprocal (I love the way that reciprocal saw goes back and forth, back and forth. Would you like to take turns watching it with me?)

  78. reparation (They'll never be able to fix that reparation in the Berlin Wall.)

  79. respiration (Check the respiration date on that oxygen tank, would you?)

  80. sanguine (I've heard that the Dagwood was invented when the Earl of Sanguine put blood sausage between two slices of bread. Since there was no refrigeration at the time, it was a little sour, dough.)

  81. soliloquy (William was able to sneak in through the back door of the theatre by using the soliloquy he had stolen from a locksmith.)

  82. subjugate (In Latin class I wrestled with subjugating verbs until, finally, I conquered them.)

  83. suffragist (John L. Lewis and Jack Dempsey were both highly renounced suffragists at the Market of Queens Borough.)

  84. supercilious (Augustus attached his diploma to the wall with supercilious and it has never failed him yet.)

  85. tautology (I think Martin Luther taught Ology at the University of Wittgenstein, before he decided to deface the pope and become a Protestant.)

  86. taxonomy (The federal government charges outrageous income taxonomy!)

  87. tectonic (Isn't the term "Prairie Oyster" just a euphonium for bull tectonics?)

  88. tempestuous (If I didn't know better, I'd say there was something tempestuous about the way that brother and sister act toward each other.)

  89. thermodynamics (Thermodynamics is that branch of science which studies the movement of thermo underwear.)

  90. totalitarian (After Adolph took Neville's Queen with his Teutonic Knight, he became so absorbed in the chess game that he achieved a totalitarian state.)

  91. unctuous (The doctor said I should use unctuous for my sore muscles, but I didn't like it. It was too greasy.)

  92. usurp (People know you are ill-mannered if usurp your soup.)

  93. vacuous (I believe it was Herbert Hoover who invented the vacuous cleaner.)

  94. vehement (When I was a kid I always wanted to drive a vehement mixer. Either that or the fire truck.)

  95. vortex (I always said I wished I were the inventor of Vortex. Then I'd be a rich man now, instead of being left out in the cold.)

  96. winnow (Buster bought a pail of winnows to use as fish bait.)

  97. wrought (Behold what man hath wrought. Irony.)

  98. xenophobe (I've heard that the use of xenophobes at rock concerts can sometimes induce apoplectic fits.)

  99. yeoman (Yo! Man!)

  100. ziggurat (Where's yer ziggur at me son?)(Commonly heard in Newfoundland where they also say, "Don't stay where you're to. Come where we're at.)

How about you? Think you can pass the audition? If you would like to try your hand at using each one of the 100 Werds in a sentence, you can go to the press release and copy them (or copy them from here.) All I ask is that you leave a comment for me with a link so I can go to your site and check out your handiwork.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Instant Zen #2

That which shrinks
Must first expand
Beware lest you lose the substance
By grasping at the shadow

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Tending Memory" Book Launch

The Dove Tale Writers collective has another fledgling just out of the nest. Marianne's book launch took place on the 21st at her daughter's dance studio. Well attended by lots of friends and well-wishers. Here are a few photos of the evening's events.

Marianne read passages from Tending Memory and thanked everyone. HWSRN took his accordeen for a walk, and Samantha danced a gypsy dance.

The song is Brahms' Hungarian Dance #4 played by HWSRN on accordeen and Voin on guitar. (When I uploaded it to DivShare and tried to play it back it was very slow loading. I don't know if it will be slow here...until I publish the post...but if it is, please be patient.) All the photos were taken by Leslie Bamford, except the one she's in which was taken by her husband, Bob.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Hank Medress, The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Hank Medress died today in Manhattan at the age of 68. For those of you who don't know, Hank was the owner of that amazing falsetto on The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

That song is so old, recorded in 1961, and we've heard it so often, that we tend to dismiss it the moment it shows up on our radio. But listen to it again now. Sure, the production's dated. (So am I.) But voices like that never really go out of style.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight was first popularized in the 50s by the Weavers, and I know it's sort of politically correct and nostalgic to wax poetic about the Weavers and their folky sound, but really, the version by The Tokens is it. No others need apply. No Lion King. No Three Dog Night even. No Beach Boys or whoever.

The song is based on a Zulu melody. Before the phrase "cultural appropriation" was invented. Elvis appropriated the Hound Dog. The Weavers went even further...all the way to Africa. Johnny Mathis brought ska to an admiring Murrican audience with Hold Me Tight. Did somebody mention Paul Simon?

Is/was it exploitation? My own view is that it's a symbiosis. Each learns and benefits from the other. As long as we're all approaching it with a degree of honesty and compassion...

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Book Launch Reminder

Come and celebrate with me the launch of my new novel!

Tending Memory
BookLand Press

Thursday June 21st from 7 - 9 p.m.

Reading at 7:45 p.m.

Sam’s Steps Dance Centre
1252 King St. E., Kitchener
Corner of Sheldon & King St. (above Scotiabank)
Entrance & parking off Sheldon

Enjoy the accordion music of HWSRN and a gypsy dance by Samantha Paul

Light refreshments
Books available at a special book launch price

RSVP appreciated at mariannepaul(at)

Hope to see you there!
~ Marianne Paul

Monday, June 18, 2007

Evil Blog Contest

I'm not ordinarily quite so mercenary, but hey! For a chance at a 24" monitor, I think I can do this. Enter a contest. Especially one that's not too technically demanding. (I am, however, a little lazy. I just copied the text that John provided in his rules for the contest. Here it is:

John Chow dot Com, a blog that helps you make money is giving away a 24″ wide screen LCD monitor! To enter, you just have to write about it. This is my entry. Now give me the monitor! The contest is sponsored by BluFur, who wants to let you know that they’re hosting Canada and the rest of the world.

OK, that's a lot of links (advertising) for one short paragraph. How you think he makes money, eh? Anyway, I like John, even tho he's evil. He's also Canajun, which must count for something. And he has way cool cars on his masthead. He always has some sort of buzz happening, and lots of advice about how to make money blogging. What I say is, if you want to learn about promoting yourself & your blog, read John Chow dot Com.

By the way, deadline for the contest is July 31/07.

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Mid-year Update on Santa Baby

Thanks to DivShare, I've just been able to add music to my post from Nov/06 on Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt. Go have a listen here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Drag Racing Deaths

Death toll now 7 in drag-racing crash at Tennessee charity parade

Sun Jun 17, 12:02 PM

SELMER, Tenn. (AP) - Officials in Tennessee say three more people have died after a drag-racing car lost control and careened into a crowd of spectators, raising the death toll to seven.

The crash last night occurred during an "exhibition burnout" - when a driver spins his tires to make them heat up and smoke - at the Cars for Kids charity event in Selmer, located about 130 kilometres east of Memphis.

Several more people were injured.

The identities of the victims and the driver were not immediately known.

(From Yahoo!News via CP)

(I was a little skeptical of the "parade" reference in the headline, so I checked for another story. Here's a quote from an earlier article by CBC: "A drag-racing vehicle went out of control during a parade and spun into a crowd of bystanders in Selmer, Tenn., on Saturday, killing four people and injuring up to 15, authorities said." So, my question is, "This is, like, on the street? In a parade? With people standing at the curb?)

For those of you who don't know what a burnout looks like, here's a photo:

The purpose of a burnout at the dragstrip is to heat up the tires so that they provide better traction off the start line.

Now I want to show you another photo taken, like the previous one, at a dragstrip, but with a wider view:

What do you notice about this? See how far away the stands are? See the barriers? That's because the behaviour of dragsters under pressure can sometimes be unpredictable. They call these barriers a safety measure.

Now let me show you another photo:

Take a look where the arrow's pointing. That's what they call a barrier. They call it something else in Spanish, but what they mean is, it's a barrier. Notice the bullfighter behind the barrier. Notice how the people are sitting up in the stands? Why do they have these stands, separated from the bullring by barriers? I think the organizers think it's a safety measure. Because bulls under pressure can be unpredictable.

In the west, maybe especially in North America, (unbridled individualists and pursuit of happiness fanatics that we are,) we sometimes chafe at the idea that we can't go anywhere we want and do anything we want however we want. I know I do.

And then, sometimes we're just plain stupid.

Update 17/06/07 11:30 pm: Here's a link with more information and reaction to this event. What can you say except, "Duh!!"

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

13 Random Childhood Facts

Camille Crawford tagged me to participate in this meme started by John Gillespie.

Hmmm....13 facts about my childhood?
  1. My experience in public, in performance, began in Grade 2. I sang a song at a school event, like a Christmas concert or something. The first time I sang over a microphone. I knew even then there was something special about that. I literally felt the electricity. No, it wasn't a shock from the mic.
  2. I've said this before. I read War & Peace at the age of 12. It's where I first heard of Freemasonry.
  3. I remember the pedal car I got for my fifth birthday. It was like a fancy Oldsmobile, hot pink and black.
  4. I'm a lousy swimmer because I took swimming lessons when I was a kid and ended up in the middle of the pool one day when we were practising drown-proofing. You're not supposed to really travel when you're doing that "raise your head and breathe" thing, but somehow I did. I got very tired and had a lot of trouble making it back to the side of the pool. I nearly drowned doing drown-proofing. Never been much of a swimmer since.
  5. I got the strap unjustly in Grade 5. Maybe that was the beginning of a certain disrespect for authority.
  6. I remember the fireflies in Mansfield Ohio where we used to visit relatives. My grandfather would pack us in the old Chrysler at 4 am or so and drive straight through. Fireflies were a delight, and unknown to me in Lunchbucket. The streets in Mansfield also had something I'd never seen...some of them were paved with bricks.
  7. One night at a wedding, a hochzeit at the German club, I stood in front of the bandstand all night, pretending I was playing the trumpet.
  8. Same German club. Christmas was a mixed blessing, because Santa Claus, the German version, carried a BIG staff. You never knew whether he was going to give you candy or a smack on the butt.
  9. I remember the sense of freedom and joy I had when one day my grandfather (who, along with my grandmother, took care of me during summers cuz my parents both worked) gave me permission to ride my bike anywhere I wanted in the whole city!
  10. It took me a long time to learn how to ride a bike. (And then, the first time I rode around the block without the training wheels, I hit an old lady.)
  11. Catlic spool boy: I trained hard and earnestly to be an altar boy. This was in the days when you still had to do the stuff in Latin. The very first day I was to assist at Mass, 7 o'clock in the bloody morning (!) I was excited and nervous. I was also all alone. The experienced kid who was supposed to be my partner never showed up. It was not a happy first Mass.
  12. Catlic spool boy 2: I have a cousin who as a youngster was so obsessed with becoming a priest that he in fact had his own chapel (this is like at age 10-12) with an altar and all the trappings and he would say Mass (and take up the collection.) He turned out to be rather unstable and was turned down for the seminary. Not much of a surprise there, I guess.
  13. I loved to read (and still do)...anything I could get my hands on. From classics to comics. I even read the articles in Playboy.
That's it! That was fun. And isn't it amazing how a few random facts can practically sum up parts of your life, eh?

Now I suppose I must tag somebody.'re it: Awannabe, Anna at Box1715, and Christy at Hint of Poetry. OK?

Book Launch Announcement

My good friend Marianne Paul is having her second novel published.This has been a work in progress for several years. I had the pleasure and privilege of reading early drafts while attending the Dove Tale Writers editing circle.

Marianne is a fabulous writer. Her style is spare but always evocative. I always like to think I can take credit for encouraging her to write poetry, at which she also excels, because much of her prose is really poetry. You can check out some of her writing at the Dove Tale Writers website and her own website.

And if you are in or near the Kitchener area on June 21, make sure you stop by for the book launch. All the local glitterati will be there (except me...Nurse Ratchet demands a foot massage that night...)

Come and celebrate with me the launch of my new novel!

Tending Memory
BookLand Press

Thursday June 21st from 7 - 9 p.m.

Reading at 7:45 p.m.

Sam’s Steps Dance Centre
1252 King St. E., Kitchener
Corner of Sheldon & King St. (above Scotiabank)
Entrance & parking off Sheldon

Enjoy the accordion music of HWSRN and a gypsy dance by Samantha Paul

Light refreshments
Books available at a special book launch price

RSVP appreciated at mariannepaul(at)

Hope to see you there!
~ Marianne Paul

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Song of the Day Revisited

Camille Crawford has become Mental Blog's music faerie. She expressed a desire to be able to hear the Song of the Day, and I agreed that would be nice. Especially a song like Dégénérations, which is not instantly recognizable.

Well, she found a service (and very kindly let me know about it) that provides exactly that, called DivShare, where you can upload files (free!) and embed them in your site. So I'm doing that with Breakout by Soulive now, and over time I'll fill in all the Songs of the Day that I can. I must say that I desperately tried to get Dégénérations on here, but for some reason I couldn't get it to work. I've tried about six different versions of it and only one of them even Chipmunk speed. I have no idea why that particular song refuses to let itself be heard. Other uploads have worked fine.

So no Dégénérations. For now anyway. Soulive instead. Over the next few days check out other Songs of the Day...if you don't already know them...or if you just wanna hear them again.

Thanks to Camille...and DivShare. Enjoy.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

A Hole in Mars

The Hole in Mars

Credit: NASA, JPL, U. Arizona

There's a hole in Mars the size of your eye
A hole in Mars and we don't know why
A big black hole where the rules don't apply
There's a hole in Mars at the bottom of the sky

There's a hole in Mars where the sun don't shine
A hole in Mars that looks anything but fine
A deep black hole like a drilled out mine
There's a hole in Mars and could be a sign

There's a hole in Mars that's a hiding place
A hole in Mars for the Martian race
A long black hole out in outer space
There's a hole in Mars we're afraid to face

There's a hole in Mars that goes down to the core
A hole in Mars with its silent roar
A wide black hole that has no floor
And not just one hole in Mars but many more

(It's only doggerel but it insists on barking.)

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Mental Blog Repair 1

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