Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Word of the Day: exflunctify

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

exfluncticate / exflunctify [eks-FLUNK-ti-kayt] (verb) [TWITO, page 50]

To destroy completely

"Interrupted again! my blood boiled, and I resolved that I would do my best to 'exflunctify' the animal at once."
---"Extract from the Journal of an Odd Fellow," in The Parterre (1834)

(photo by me)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Story Cubes 12: Coffee Calamity (fiction)

All I wanted was a steamy cup of wicked black java, something to perk me up and obliterate the sleepy funk I was in. I needed that fix so bad that I felt like a dying fish, a falling star, a bee without a buzz.

Turtle-slow, I shuffled toward the local caffeine emporium, a scruffy establishment that nevertheless ground a good bean. My feet were tied to bricks -- or so it seemed -- and for the first time in my life, I wished I had a cane. The door of the shop was loath to open, and for a panicky moment, I thought it might be locked, that this temple of caffeination might be drained for the day.

Inside was a skinny, acne-scarred teenager behind the counter, munching on an apple and waiting on a gray-haired man in a wrinkled business suit. "I'll have a mocha coconut Frappuccino", the man said. The counter-boy turned away to mix it, which I knew would take until the heat-death of the universe, since he seemed to be the only barista on duty. I rolled my eyes, and they landed on a hipster slumped in a corner armchair, snoring softly. I knew I'd be similarly narcoleptic if I wasn't sipping a mean grind soon.

Finally, it was my turn at the counter. I handed my debit card to the teen and barked that I wanted "a large black". "A large, black what?" he said, smirking. A rhetorical question. I said nothing. "Anything else?" he said. "No!" I retorted, with what I realized was too much insistence. His expression soured, and he proceeded to pour with the speed of an arthritic glacier. "Here," he said as he set the dark remedy before me at last. "Sugar?" "No, no thanks," I growled.

The paper cup was so hot that my fingers throbbed as I found a seat at a table. The first sips scorched by lips and tongue, but I didn't care. I needed jolt therapy to slam me back into radiant consciousness. I imbibed half the cup within two minutes, but the thunderbolt didn't come. In another minute I knew I'd been subjected to perfidy. I stared up at the ceiling and hissed a curse-word at the wagon-wheel chandelier: "decaf!"


(The bold-faced words are interpreted from the images on Rory's Story Cubes)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Random Sequence: horologe

"'Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep.
He'll watch the horologe a double set
If drink rock not his cradle."
--William Shakespeare, Othello, Act 2, Scene 7

horologe (noun) = a clock

My alarm horologe goes off at 6:30 AM. I'm tempted to call it a horrorloge.

museum of london clock

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Link Mania: The Taming of the Xanthippe?

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is... emoji pictograph. Hmmph. Even "they" or (haha) "lumbersexual" would be a better choice.


Big Words Can Come in Small Packages
Including "benthic" (adjective form of "benthos", TWITO page 20) and "preterist" (TWITO, page 115).


40 Xcellent X-Words
Shakespeare could have written "The Taming of the Xanthippe". I'm kind of glad he didn't.


9 words to use instead of ‘toilet’
No, not that one you're thinking of.... Et tu, Shakespeare?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Photo of the Week: Looking Down (by me)

At the One World Trade Center Observatory
This is me and my son at New York City's One World Trade Center Observatory, standing 102 stories above street level and looking down (at a high-definition video screen, silly!). Click the pic for a scarier close-up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Word of the Day: fissiparous

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

fissiparous [fih-SIP-er-us] (adjective) [TWITO, page 54]

Tending to break apart

"This endless multiplication of somatic cells has been going on under the eyes of numerous observers for forty years. What observer has watched for forty years to see whether the fissiparous multiplication of Protozoa does not cease? What observer has watched for one year, or one month or one week?"
--Herbert Spencer, "Professor Weismann's Theories", in Popular Science (1893)

Cactus wound (fissiparous):
cactus wound
(photo by me)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Story Cubes 11: To the Rescue (fiction)

I couldn't sleep again, so I got up, took a pill, and let the cat out. Then I stood on the back porch, puffing a cigarette and gazing up at the star-spangled sky. The bulb in the porch light had fizzed out, so I had my flashlight with me. I dropped the butt, stamped it out, and was about to go back in the cabin, when I heard on odd sound off in the woods. It was a faint "ahhhh" sound, and for a crazy moment, I thought it sounded like the bleating of a sheep. Then I realized it seemed human, someone wailing weakly off in the trees. Somebody in trouble.

I have a hero complex, so I set off in the direction of the moaning, if that's what it was. I crossed the rickety footbridge over the stream and trotted into the woods. My flashlight made eerie shadows as I hurried down a path, and I started to worry about bears. I kept hearing that disturbing "ahhh" sound, louder and closer. It seemed to emanate from above, not just ahead. Finally it seemed to be coming from directly overhead. I stopped at the trunk of an enormous tree and pointed my flashlight up.

There was a man there, suspended by cords and fabric from the branches. What the hell, I thought, and then realized he was a parachutist. The missing pilot -- the one they couldn't find after the plane crash. But that was on the news a week ago. "You okay?" I yelled. No answer to my question, just another "ahhh." I didn't know what to do. He was way up there, higher than I could climb. I pulled out my phone, thinking I'd call 911, but there was no signal.

I lit a cigarette, closed my eyes, and tried to think. But then -- it was very odd. When I opened my eyes, I was back on the porch, without knowing how I'd gotten back there. The cat was in the yard, coughing up a hair ball and making "ahhh" sounds. I really, really have to stop taking Ambien.


(The bold-faced words are interpreted from the images on Rory's Story Cubes)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Random Sequence: oppugnancy

"Take but degree away, untune that string,
And hark what discord follows! Each thing melts
In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,
And make a sop of all this solid globe...."
--William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act 1, Scene 3

oppugnancy (noun) = opposition; resistance

I just can't "oppug" (?) a word like this.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Link Mania: Jam or Jelly?

Joanna Newsom Vocabulary List: A Guide to All Her $10 Words
My kind of singer/songwriter/harpsichordist.


12 Exceptionally Long or Extremely Special Words
If you've been searching for a word that means "a fricassee comprised of rotted dogfish head, wrasse, wood pigeon, and the roasted head of a dabchick, among other culinary morsels", you'll find it here.


The Weird Words You Learn From Video Games
Have you ever added crenels to a previously unbroken parapet?


18 awesome ways to say awesome
Jam or jelly?

Monday, November 02, 2015

FREE Kindles

Got a Kindle (or the FREE Kindle app on your phone/computer)? Two of my 4-star books on Amazon will be available as FREE Kindle downloads starting Wednesday, November 4, and extending through Sunday, November 8. Tell your friends -- especially if they are logophiles or would like to read a short story about "oddness in the Adirondacks".

The Word I'm Thinking Of

The Iron Box