Monday, September 22, 2014

Word of the Day: Do you know what "chaussure" means?

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

chaussure [sho-SUR] noun (TWITO, page 32)

Foot gear, shoes

"'I delight in Hessian boots,' said Rebecca. Jos Sedley, who admired his own legs prodigiously, and always wore this ornamental chaussure, was extremely pleased at this remark...."
--William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848)

(photo by me)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Flickers and Feathers

Did you know there are owls in Jersey City? Even in the daytime? I didn't, but now I do, thanks to an excellent short film I saw today, Winter Bird Watching in Jersey City -- part of the Golden Door International Film Festival. This is a film that should be shown to millions on PBS. There's something about seeing these wild birds in a wintry urban setting -- perching, flapping, and flying around the untamed edges of the city with the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center in the background -- that makes you think about the city, or cities, in a very different way. Director and cinematographer John Dunstan narrates in a soothing New Zealand accent, explaining what kinds of birds these are: hawks, ravens, geese, and of course the eerily sagacious owls. The images, editing, and music all work together beautifully enough to make one wish this film could be experienced in IMAX format. But the historic, large-screen venue where it was screened -- the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre -- definitely did it justice.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

Last weekend I bought a 35mm Canon SLR camera for five bucks at a local flea market. Why was it so cheap? It's a film camera. Nobody, except some high-end professional and art photographers, shoots film today, and I certainly don't. I bought the thing, which was sitting in a cardboard box along with an 8mm movie camera and some other obsolete photographic equipment, as a prop. It will be part of my Halloween costume this year, if I decide to dress up as a tourist again (complete with Hawaiian shirt and other tacky accessories). I was pleased to find it at such a reasonable price, but it does make me sad to see such a fine instrument sitting on a shelf, completely unusable, like some precious antique. I like photography, and I have some slight talent in that direction I think, but I would never have the patience for film. Not in this era of digital instantaneous... eurekas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Random Sequence: "Quail" Without Feathers

"She had a strong, and to me incomprehensible dread of the sea, a terror as unconquerable as it was irrational. The everlasting thunder of its waves awed and oppressed her with a sense of overwhelming power; its eternal silence, its empty vastness of uninhabitable brine, chilled and repelled her; all that was weak and untrue in her nature quailed before its stern, solemn grandeur."
--Margaret Hunter Grant, "Unto the End", in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, June 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

quailed or "quail" = to cower in fear. It has nothing to do with birds, although I'm sure a quail would quail if you got too close.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Link Mania: Cromulent Eponyms

15 Words You Didn't Realize Were Named After People
Guess what eponym we can thank Amelia Bloomer for?


10 Words The Simpsons Made Famous
Including "cromulent" (TWITO, page 36). Springfield's "cromulent" motto: "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man."


27 Phrases Only Spies Will Understand
Maybe I'm your "rabbit".


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Word of the Day: Do you know what "conglobate" means?

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

conglobate [KONG-lo-bate] verb (TWITO, page 33)

To form into a globe or ball

"He decided to conglobate all of his string into a weird planetesimal."

And a "planetesimal" is a small celestial body (used here metaphorically).

(photo by me)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Photo of the Week: Reflection (by me)


Real or surreal? Click the pic for a closer view, if that floats your boat.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

Walking through the park with three ears of corn in my shopping bag, I stopped to listen to an accordion band.

It didn't occur to me that there was anything punny (let alone funny) about this, until later someone remarked, "Wow, five ears listening to 'Lady of Spain'!"

To which I replied, "It really wasn't that corny."

Amaizeing, huh?

(photo by me)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Random Sequence: ormolu

"His rich surroundings, though conjured by himself (or rather by his cash-books), had assumed the nature of a Frankenstein monster that awed and possessed him. He would no more have dreamt of really enjoying himself, than he would of reading any of the gilded books upon his marble and ormolu center table."
--"A Few Friends" by Korma Lynn in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, May 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

ormolu = an alloy of zinc and copper used to imitate gold, or gold powder used for gilding

All that glitters is not ormolu.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Link Mania: Unabashed, Indefatigable Martinets

10 Words with Difficult-to-Remember Meanings
Are you nonplussed by unabashed, indefatigable martinets who lack panache?


Word in the news: facekini
A ski mask for all seasons. Bank robbers, take note.


Forest for the Trees: codde, whiffletree, arboreal, sapling, bonsai, maquis, tannin, thicket...
Here are two related words, not on the (great) list above: "bosk" (TWITO, page 23), a noun meaning a small wooded area, and "sylvestral" (TWITO, page 144), an adjective pertaining to trees.

fall tree
(photo by me)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Word of the Day: Do you know what "luciferous" means?

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

luciferous [loo-SIF-er-us] adjective (TWITO, page 85)

1. Bringing or providing light
2. Providing insight or enlightenment

"I therefore take the liberty to say, that I do not regard meteoric light as due to the presence of a luciferous atmosphere belonging to the meteorite itself...."
--Daniel Vaughan, "A Catalogue of Observations of Luminous Meteors" (1858)

And yes, the name Lucifer ("light bringer") is related.

(photo by me)