Sunday, May 30, 2010

More Tom Swifties

"You just don't turn me on," Tom said limply.

"You just think I'm a cow or something?" she asked moodily.

"No, I just don't much care for small, sharp breasts," Tom said pointedly.

"Maybe I should wear falsies," she said flatly.

"Here, put on this mink bra," Tom said furtively.

"OK. Well, my lovely, that seems to have done the trick," she said gruesomely.

"I think you're right," Tom said firmly.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


French novelist Honore de Balzac was born on this day in 1799.

Here is how a contemporary decribed him:

"A fat little flabby person with the face of a baker, the clothes of a cobbler, the size of a barrelmaker, the manners of a stocking salesman, and the dress of an innkeeper."

Balzac coined the word bricabracologie, meaning the hobby or practice of collecting knickknacks, or bric-a-bracs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not for all the tea in China can anyone prove...

Philosopher Bertrand Russell was born on this day in 1872.

Russell coined an analogy about a Celestial Teapot. It was in answer to those who said that the burden of proof lies upon the sceptic to disprove unfalsifiable claims of religions.

Russell wrote:

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes.

"But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

"If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."

Today's ghost word: crackteapot, n. One who believes steadfastly in the existence of something despite evidence that is flimsy as a teabag.

For more about Russell, visit Today in Cynic's Almanac

Friday, May 14, 2010

A be-night-ed expression

Having seen the annoying "at the end of the day..." already attain the status of a cliche in its relatively short existence, we were wondering: Why its popularity?

We're guessing it's because it sounds metaphorical and lends a touch of color to an otherwise drab pronouncement ("At the end of the day, I had to think about what's right for my family and I.").

But as poetry we feel it lacks that certain je ne sais quoi. In the first place, what does it mean, exactly? Is the end of the day at nightfall? Then what about the night? Or is the end of the day when one goes to bed?

And what about the next day? Do you have to reassess the previous day's events and come to a conclusion again at the end of that day?

All in all, it's pretty unsatisfactory, as sayings go.

What was wrong with "When all is said and done," or even "All things considered?" These are perfectly serviceable expressions and not ones that someone reaches for to make himself sound eloquent, as if he'd just invented a novel turn of phrase.

These are my thoughts on the matter -- at the end of the day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tom Swifties, part 1

"That big fat baseball player died," she said ruthlessly.

"Well, he did like his hotdogs," Tom said frankly.

"He must have loved his desserts, too," she said piously.

"They're burying him tomorrow," Tom said gravely.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Borne back into the present

May 5 is a palindromic date (5.05) -- one that is the same backward as forward.

There is no tome
That's a palindrome,
Nor scarcely a paragraph, I believe;
The form is plain,
As: when the first swain
Said "MADAM, I'M ADAM" to EVE.

Monday, May 3, 2010

If you frankly give a damn

On this day in 1937, Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone With the Wind won the Pulitzer Prize.

"Gone with the wind" is a phrase synonymous with one of the most beautiful of words, ephemeral (from the Greek epi, meaning around or about, and hemera, "a day"), and one of the ugliest, fugacious (derived from the Latin fugax, meaning ready to flee or fly).

For more about Gone With the Wind, Go here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nessie was tartled

On this day in 1933, the first rumor of the Loch Ness Monster went abroad. (For more information, Go here.)

Today's Word of the Day:

Tartle, (Scottish; verb): to hesitate in recognizing a person or thing.