August 08, 2008

Lisa: Red Dawn

Sarah: Ohmygosh.
Sarah: They're remaking it?!
Lisa: A remake. Yes. I was seeing what movies were scheduled for 2010, in case it brought up any awesome costume ideas.
Lisa: Blake is going to plotz.
Sarah: Plotz?
Lisa: It's a real word!
Sarah: I don't doubt that, i suppose, I just don't know its meaning?
Lisa: PLOTZ: To burst, to explode, "I can't laugh anymore or I'll "plotz." To be aggravated beyond bearing.
Sarah: Hee. Awesome. Thank you.
Lisa: Thank the Dictionary of Yiddish Phrases.
Sarah: I wish I knew more Yiddish.
Lisa: plotz (pläts) intransitive verb
INFORMAL to be overcome with emotion; give way to excitement, anger, delight, etc. Etymology: < E Yiddish platsn, lit., to burst, explode < MHG platzen

Lisa: Are you going to plotz?
Blake: Absolutely.

June 12, 2008

Lisa: how about I make you a nice sandwich, and we'll forget this ever happened?

I was innocently enjoying this unspeakably nerdy article on retconning in comic books when I stumbled across the words, "they like the taste of your sandwich."

I think it was lunchtime. "Mmm, sandwich," I must have thought. I made an immediate mental note to add this turn of phrase to my everyday speech. To my lexicon, if you will. I tried it out in several contexts:

1. In place of "I like the way you think"
2. In an "I find you adorable" sort of situation
3. As an "I'm picking up what you're putting down" substitute
4. As my Facebook status

I am saddened to report that I had a 0% success rate. People did not like the taste of my sandwich, if you know what I mean. I know, I know, you don't--that's the problem. It either came off as nonsensical or vaguely dirty, depending on the audience and the topic at hand. I'm afraid "I like the taste of your sandwich" will have to be retired (along with such gems as the exclamation, "that's over the COUNTER!").

Now, more importantly: ham and cheese or peanut butter?

March 08, 2008

Lisa: Kudos on your correct usage of "amongst." Ugh.

I use plenty of long and arguably obscure words in conversation, so I'm not sure why I got irritated the other day when someone I was talking to used "amongst." I was all ready to find out he was using the word incorrectly, but a little research turned this up instead.

among vs. amongst

Dr. Grammar: "Both are correct and mean the same, but among is more common."
Columbia Guide to Standard American English: a few minor but confusingly-worded differences, such as "amongst has a rather dusty-genteel quality...among is often followed by a singular collective."
Blurtit: "the word "among" should be applied to contexts when people, or things are stationary (they remain in one place), while "amongst" is used more frequently for people or things that are in a state of motion."

Consensus: Among is more modern and colloquial, where amongst is more formal and British. Other than that, they're pretty much interchangeable. So...if you use amongst in regular conversation, you will be correct. Pretentious, but correct.

I was similarly foiled when I tried to find justification for my smirk at the large "KUDO" hand-written on a printout of an email posted in the back room at work. Although I did find kudos in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as expected ("praise given for achievement"), there was also an entry for kudo. To wit:

Some commentators hold that since kudos is a singular word it cannot be used as a plural and that the word kudo is impossible. But kudo does exist; it is simply one of the most recent words created by back-formation from another word misunderstood as a plural. Kudos was introduced into English in the 19th century; it was used in contexts where a reader unfamiliar with Greek could not be sure whether it was singular or plural. By the 1920s it began to appear as a plural, and about 25 years later kudo began to appear. It may have begun as a misunderstanding, but then so did cherry and pea.

So, there you go. Dumb people are allowed to just make their own words. And that is why you'll find me watching Cops in the evenings, pencil in hand, taking notes ON OUR FUTURE.

January 23, 2008

Lisa: fiat


From the Latin fieri, "let it be done."

1 : a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort
2 : an authoritative determination : DICTATE "a fiat of conscience"
3 : an authoritative or arbitrary order : DECREE "government by fiat"

(via Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)


Tiny italian car.

January 09, 2008

Lisa: In case you were wondering...

Despite being married to a high school football-playing jock, I have no interest in football--I didn't in high school, and I don't now. And forget watching football on TV; on Superbowl Sunday, I only watch the halftime show. That said, I have fallen in love with Friday Night Lights.

As a relative newcomer to high school football culture (and certainly to the all-encompassing version that surrounds Texas high school football), I suddenly found myself needing to know the difference between a cheerleader and a rally girl--and whichLyla Garrity is.

Exhibit A: In FNL's first episode, Lyla says she has to go to "rally rehearsal," so I figured she was a rally girl.
Exhibit B: At the end of episode 2, the Dillon rally girls are shown delivering baked goods to their Panthers in a sequence that ends with Lyla bringing Jason a cookie in the hospital. Is this because she's his rally girl, or does she do it (and does he forego the services of a rally girl) because she's his girlfriend? Incidentally, (just like Wallace's spirit boxes on Veronica Mars) treat-bearing rally girls apparently do exist in real life.
Exhibit C: The show definitely considers cheerleaders and rally girls to be two separate things. Lyla notes their uncharacteristic alliance (and by implication, their accustomed rivalry) in making Jason's banner. The casting calls for extras support this, noting that 'cheerleader' is a specialty role, while rally girls (though required to be "super cute") receive standard pay.
Exhibit D: The Wikipedia entry on cheerleading doesn't mention rally girls at all, but I love that the neutrality of the article is in dispute.
Exhibit E: TWoP forum participants know all. BananasFoster explains that being a cheerleader is more prestigious and exclusive, while anyone can be a rally girl. TexasTumbleweed agrees, adding that the rally girls are indeed the providers of spirit boxes and banners. It sounds like rally girls are a lot like what we called "pep club" at my school.

Verdict 1: I think Lyla must be a cheerleader. She's often shown on the sidelines of the game, cheering in the uniform and with pom-poms, just like my school's cheerleaders. Plus, she was dating the star quarterback--clearly a role only a cheerleader can fill. "Rally rehearsal" must have meant practicing for a rally, not practicing with her fellow rally girls.
Verdict 2: I have spent too much time thinking about this.
Verdict 3: I love the internet.

December 22, 2007

Lisa: Muffuletta

This year, the girls exchanged gifts at Jason's Deli, a chain that prominently features the muffaletta on its menu. No one in our group wanted to order the muffaletta, because we didn't know what it was (and no one wanted to ask what it was, for fear of looking dumb). Also, we couldn't bear to involve ourselves in a dialogue including the words "whole, half, or quarter muff."

Thanks to Wikipedia, I can now report that the muffaletta is a huge sandwich defined by its bread (a round, foccacia-type bread, not a muffin or English muffin as some of us guessed) and by the presence of a spread made of olives.

In other Jason's menu news, a Po'Boy is a sub sandwich made on a baguette, and "Spud au Broc" joins "Moons Over My Hammy" and its compatriots in the category of "menu items too embarassing to order by name."

December 20, 2007

Lisa: Free Rice

If you enjoy...

a) Word games
b) The self-satisfaction that comes with having a higher vocabulary level than other people
c) Wasting time at work
d) Ending world hunger
e) Flashbacks to the ever-increasing-difficulty structure of the GRE exam
f) All of the above

...then you should go play FreeRice. They give 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program for every word you get right.

(Thanks, Shifted Librarian!)

December 15, 2007

Lisa: A Satisfied Ewe

1) I hate the word 'ewe.' I don't know why, exactly. I think it's picturing the spelling of the word while I say it, since I don't have an aversion to saying 'you.' It's just so completely NOT spelled phonetically. It is saying, "Just try to sound me out, young reader! I am ready to trick you, HAHAHAHA!"

Whatever, shut up. It's distracting.

2) I appreciate a good pun as much as the next person. Puns in product and/or business names can be clever, incorporating multiple relevant meanings. But a pun for no reason is just using the WRONG WORD.

Case in point:

Mutton is not on the menu, and this restaurant's clientele does not include sheep. So...why? And this is just gratuitous:

That said, their Navajo Tacos are tasty.

December 06, 2007

Sarah: A Message from Finals Week

Here's a good, underused word for you:
inure: to accustom to accept something undesirable
I am currently inured to my unkempt apartment.

My friends must inure my appearance this week.

Yeesh. Please take a moment to enjoy my headband that I believe I bought in the 7th grade, my PowerPuff Girls t-shirt from the 12th grade, and the makeup that is most obviously not on my face. This is the look of self-imposed exile as I study for my final. On the positive side, my dad painted that painting behind me. Those are rows of crop in a field. The painting has warm happy colors and I love it as the focal point of my living room.

I just noticed that my dry winter hands bled on my laptop keyboard. It's all class and grace around these parts. My beloved computer, pre-carnage:

Ah, G4. No one can display villanelles quite like you.

At least I have my Christmas tree to keep me company.

Most of the ornaments are hand-me-downs from my grandma. The gifts each proudly bear tags crafted by Marta.

Now it's back to the grindstone for me. I'm currently writing an essay about this poem:

Villanelle by William Empson

It is the pain, it is the pain, endures.
Your chemic beauty burned my muscles through.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

What later purge from this deep toxin cures?
What kindness now could the old salve renew?
It is the pain, it is the pain, endures.

The infection slept (custom or change inures)
And when pain's secondary phase was due
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

How safe I felt, whom memory assures,
Rich that your grace safely by heart I knew.
It is the pain, it is the pain, endures.

My stare drank deep beauty that still allures
My heart pumps yet the poison draught of you.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

You are still kind whom the same shape immures
Kind and beyond adieu. We miss our cue.
It is the pain, it is the pain, edures.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

November 01, 2007

Sarah: Words of the Day

Good word:
1: a vaporous exhalation formerly believed to cause disease, a heavy vaporous emanation or atmosphere
2: an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt

Bad word:
moist, because, just listen to it. Moist. Ew. Also, damp. Neither of those are good.

May 03, 2007

Lisa: voila

In our fabulous language, there is sometimes a gap between a written word and its spoken equivalent. Spanish doesn't have this problem--each vowel is said the same way, every time. Their rules of pronunciation are simple and finite. Not so with English. English is full of EXCEPTIONS to the rules. Some of the rules even have exceptions built right in: "I before E except after C or when sounding like "ey" as in neighbor and weigh." What kind of rule is that?

This gap presents a problem for readers and non-readers alike. People who have read the word but not used it in conversation often betray their ignorance with an incorrect pronunciation, while people who have heard the word used out loud might stumble when it comes time to write the word down--and no amount of dictionary searching will help BECAUSE THE SPELLING DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. See "segue." I think the French are usually to be blamed for this.

Imagine my embarassment when I read Imogene's Antlers out loud to my mom as a child, and in the crucial scene where the fancy (French) milliner reveals a new hat he has created to hide Imogene's offending appendages, I confidently exclaimed "VIOLA!" Like the string instrument. I'm sure Mom was very nice about it, all "Heeee. Oh, sweetie, it's pronounced WA-LA!" I could have shrugged it off, or nodded in comprehension. I chose to be mortified.

Now. Let's all learn from my childhood mistake, shall we? When you look at the words "wa la" on the screen after typing them, your instinct tells you that these are not real words. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCT. Type "voila" instead. Use italics to indicate a foreign language. Smirk to yourself about how smart you are.

March 28, 2007

Lisa: dental hygiene is so hot right now

Sometimes the Fergie-bot says some stuff that the kids out in the suburbs can't understand. This time, the confusion-causing lyric was found in Glamorous:

Livin' my life
In the fast lane
And I wont change
By the Glamorous, oh the flossy flossy

Investigation was obviously called for. After verifying that the lyric is indeed "flossy flossy," I checked the sometimes helpful (but always offensive!) Urban Dictionary. There were two helpful definitions that actually predated the song:

1. Extremely flashy or showy.
2. Someone who is hot, sexy, or banging.

Yahoo! Answers also chipped in with:

3. Ornate or showy in a flashy, often almost vulgar way.

Now I'm wondering if Jennifer Lopez wasn't just talking about dental floss when she said "if I wanna floss I got my own." Thoughts?

On an eerily related note, Sarah bought me a toothbrush that plays Let's Get it Started by broadcasting sound waves through my teeth and directly INTO MY BRAIN. That's what the package says, anyway. It's awesome--now I in the mornings I shake my thang AND brush for a full two minutes!

February 08, 2007

Sarah: And now I can't stop.

You asked me to blog, and see what you've created? See?? A MONSTER.

I wish I'd come up with vocabulary homework this stellar. Mine was usually about how much I loved school, my teacher, our latest reading assignment, or some combination of the three. Or I tried to compose one super sentence that used all ten or so vocabulary words, just to show my teacher that words? They were my playthings. Like putty in my hands.

October 30, 2006

Lisa: Rack

Last week, Mallory asked me if the expression was "rack your brain" or "wrack your brain," and I was forced to admit that I didn't know.

A ridiculously small amount of research turned up this excellent answer by Joann Hill at Random House. The whole thing is quite interesting if you like that kind of thing (which I do), but here's the relevant paragraph:

The word rack in racking (one's) brain is thus spelled. That is because it derives from the rack, the medieval instrument of torture on which a victim was slowly stretched. (This stems from the familiar rack 'a framework'.) This rack was used as a verb meaning 'to torture on the rack', and hence in the transferred sense 'to torture', and then figuratively 'to stretch or strain', which is the sense in rack (one's) brain.

Fortuitously, 'rack' is also my favorite euphemism for breasts.

October 22, 2006

Sarah: Word of the Day

A friend looked at me like I was insane when I described an undomesticated cat. Thus, I defend my vocabulary to her and the internet at large.


not domesticated or cultivated, wild
having escaped from domestication and become wild

As in: After spending time on the island in Cast Away, Tom Hanks became feral until reintroduced to civilization.

September 15, 2006

Lisa: Hashed

It is always a bit disturbing to discover you've been using a phrase incorrectly for decades. The phrase I have in mind today describes the little parallel counting marks one writes, usually in groups of five with the fifth mark crossing over the other four and sort of grouping them into a pleasing, easily counted bundle. What have I been calling these marks?

Hatch marks.

"Hatch marks" does not exist as a phrase at all. I don't know if I just made that up, or if it's related to "hatching" (the use of fine, parallel lines drawn closely together to create the illusion of shade or texture in a drawing), or what. The phrase I was probably originally going for was "hash marks," but both the sports meaning and the mathematical one ( though both dealing with parallel lines) are a bit of a stretch. It looks like the phrase I should have been using all along is "tally marks" (there's even a little picture there to seal the deal). I guess that does make sense, what with "tallying" meaning "counting" and all. And the term "tallywhacker" is suddenly more clear.

For extra learning power, "little counting marks" are actually called a "unary numeral system," and the five-mark bundles are referred to as a "five-bar gate." Try whipping those bad boys out at your next cocktail party.

August 10, 2006

Sarah: The Battle of the Pronunciations

Just to clear up any debate: Zenith can be pronounced "zE-nith" or "zen-ith."

See the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam Webster Online.

January 31, 2006

Lisa: A Dukedom Large Enough

It is hard for me to talk about the serious stuff unless I surround it with a sort of superficial duck blind. Nothing to see here!


There is a girl in her early 20s at the library dressed completely in pink. Baby pink shearling coat over a hot pink cowl neck sweater; baby pink belt; baby pink jeans tucked into hot pink knee-high ruched stilletto boots. I think she is channeling Madonna? Otherwise I have no explanation for that kind of behavior.


Instead of going to work last Saturday, I got to attend a children's literature conference at BYU. Authors Katherine Paterson and Kimberly Heuston and illustrator Eric Rohmann gave really excellent presentations. Admittedly I was a bit emotional that day (Possibly overtired? Sorry if your teacher thinks I'm a freak now, Jeff.), but several of the things they said rang true for me. I even took notes! Here's what I wrote down:

Eric Rohman:

  • "Kids aren't stupid, they're just short." --Mo Willems
  • Kimberly Heuston:

  • Ambition, passion, talent, and the ability to work hard are four independent realities that seldom coincide.
  • Katherine Paterson:

  • when asked what he had learned in Sunday School that day, one child responded "I learned to love Jesus...and sit down, sit down, SIT DOWN!"

  • When a new theory is presented, physicists ask: "Is it beautiful?" Beauty is truth. The components of beauty are simplicity (completeness and economy), harmony (the perfect conformity of parts to the whole), and brilliance (does it have clarity within itself AND shed light on other theories).

  • It is our job simply to put the best books in the hands of children; we can't make someone love a book. If a story speaks to someone it is because of the influence of the Holy Ghost.

  • The bible is not a story of immortal life. It is a story of Earth. It is a story of humanity on earth, which is even more brief. This is the foundation of all great stories.

  • "Truth unadorned, unsentimentalized, is beauty." --Elizabeth Borton de Trevino, I, Juan de Pareja

  • Art is supposed to help us experience the spectrum of human emotion and somehow make us richer and more compassionate, wiser human beings--but the reader gets to choose what to take away from the experience.

  • The terebinth tree mentioned in the bible is a likely etymologic progenitor of the island of Terebinthia in C.S. Lewis's Narnia, which was unconsciously transmuted to Terabithia for Paterson's Newbery-winning novel.


    Two Saturdays ago I was assigned to help out at the KUED Super Reader Party. The library's booth had a Texas theme, and I spent most of my time there folding these "cowboy" hats. I'm thinking of using the extras in a "pimp" storytime.

    P.S. Extra credit to anyone who gets my incredibly obscure title reference.

  • January 17, 2006

    Lisa: miscible

    In fifth grade I was a spelling machine. Our teacher held a class spelling bee to determine who would participate in the school's competition. She even promised to take the top two spellers in the class out for ice cream at the local Leatherby's. Now, I was not my teacher's favorite student. In fact, for some strange reason she hated me. This may have had to do with the fact that she hated my mom. ANYWAY. One of my good friends was my teacher's favorite student, and I think she offered the ice cream prize with that particular student specifically in mind. Imagine her chagrin when a male classmate and I earned the top two spots! Her favored pupil was number three, so the ice cream party was expanded to include her as well. But I digress.

    I held my own at the school-wide spelling bee (against sixth-graders!), but stumbled on the word miscible:

    Pronunciation: (mis'u-bul)
    --adj. Chem., Physics.
    capable of being mixed: miscible ingredients.

    Ironically, I spelled a homonym, missable.

    I redeemed myself somewhat in seventh grade, at my junior high spelling bee. I took second place after losing to my crush, who couldn't understand how I could not know the word nemesis.

    December 31, 2005

    Lisa: forte

    The other day someone whose intelligence I respect insisted that the preferred pronunciation of the non-musical forte is "fort." I had never heard this before, and frankly thought it sounded wack, but I figured I should do her the courtesy of at least looking it up. It turns out we were both sort of right.

    From Merriam-Webster online:


    2 : one's strong point
    usage In forte we have a word derived from French that in its "strong point" sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation. Usage writers have denigrated \'for-"tA\ and \'for-tE\ because they reflect the influence of the Italian-derived forte. Their recommended pronunciation \'fort\, however, does not exactly reflect French either: the French would write the word le fort and would rhyme it with English for. So you can take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will dislike whichever variant you choose. All are standard, however. In British English \'fo-"tA\ and \'fot\ predominate; \'for-"tA\ and \for-'tA\ are probably the most frequent pronunciations in American English.

    Far be it from me to suggest that because something is common it is correct, but I think I will be sticking with the majority of my American compatriots and pronouncing the E. Anyway, "fort" just SOUNDS wrong.

    October 31, 2005

    Lisa: Bildungsroman

    Since we have about a thousand books in the library system under this subject heading, I thought I'd better find out what it means.


    a novel which traces the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the main character from (usually) childhood to maturity.

    Thank you, Wikipedia. The world is a smarter place today because of you. Here are some alternate (but very similar) definitions via OneLook.

    [slight tangent]
    You know, you have to quit using the words segue and eschew. All right? They sound French.
    --Seeley Booth
    [/slight tangent]

    June 02, 2005

    Lisa: Crunk

    This t-shirt made me laugh, but I thought I'd better find out exactly what it means before endorsing it wholeheartedly.


    1. To have a good time. Long as everybody get crunk in the drop -- Lil Bow Wow (Bounce with me [2000]). (Rap Dictionary)

    2. To get crazy drunk. Originally, this term comes from the words crazy and funk. As opposed to popular opinion, crunk has had no relation to being coked up and drunk until recently. Because if its similarity of terminal sound with the word drunk many rappers have used it in reference with being crazy and under the influence. This and the intrinsical association with hard partying has brought about its association with alcohol. (Rap Dictionary)

    3. A specific type of hip hop music, based out of the southern United States. The sound itself is a mix of repetitive chants and drum machine rhythms. Lil' Jon & the East Side Boyz often claim to be the "Kings of Crunk." Lil' Scrappy is referred to as the "Prince of Crunk" whereas Ciara has been referred to as the "Princess of Crunk" and Chyna White is sometimes known as the "Queen of Crunk." While these artists have embodied the term crunk in the hip-hop industry, the term was more widely exposed to the non hip-hop community during a broadcast of the hit Fox show "American Idol", when a particular contestant repeatedly used variations of the phrase "Get crunk!" during his audition. Also, beware the profane version which starts with a K. (Wikipedia)

    4. To cry like a crane. [Obs.] "The crane crunketh.'' --Withals (1608). (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary)

    January 30, 2005

    Lisa: segue

    From MSN Encarta Dictionary:


    "3. smooth transition: the act of making a smooth transition from one state or situation to another"

    If you don't click through and listen to the pronunciation guide, at least know this - it's pronounced seg-way, not seg-you. Seriously.

    April 19, 2004

    Lisa: Great, now I'm hungry.

    Blake said he would like these Snacks panties even more if they came with a matching bra labeled "dinners." I think you have to have read Raney (or be married to someone who has read Raney) to get that reference.

    On a related note:
    Until today, I thought that "dinners" was a fairly commonly used euphemism for "breasts" in the South, but searching online has proved otherwise. And let me tell you, a Google search involving the word "breasts" is not to be undertaken lightly.

    March 17, 2004

    Lisa: wack

    Question: is it "wack" or "whack" that Angel was seen getting a spray-on tan at a strip mall on L.A.'s Sunset Boulevard?


    NOUN: Slang A person regarded as eccentric.
    ADJECTIVE: Inflected forms: wack·er, wack·est
    Very bad: walked out of a really wack movie.
    ETYMOLOGY: Back-formation from wacky.

    (Courtesy The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Check out the pronunciation guide recording of the extreme white girl.)

    Answer: "Wack" seems to be the generally accepted spelling. However, "wacky" is probably derived from the phrase "out of whack", so there's a case for "whack" being an alternate spelling of "wack." Since it's a slang term, I think the spelling is probably pretty flexible, but when writing a note to my peeps in the hizzouse, I for one will eschew the 'H'.

    November 18, 2003

    Lisa: adumbrate

    Today I encountered a word that was completely new to me. To commemorate this momentous occasion, I started a new category, "Word of the Day." I'm not sure why I called it that--a lack of creativity, maybe? I don't anticipate posting a new word every day, but I promise that when I DO post a word, it will be on a day.

    Anyway, here's the word:


    1. to foreshadow vaguely
    2. a. to give a sketchy representation or outline of
    b. to suggest or disclose partially
    3. overshadow, obscure

    (courtesy Merriam-Webster OnLine)

    For the five-year-old inside all of us (everyone else has one too, right?), I would like to point out that "adumbrate" contains the word "dumb."

    September 08, 2003

    Lisa: Vocabulary Lesson

    Lately I have heard several people use the words genre and oeuvre almost interchangeably. We must put a stop to this outrage!

    Here's what Merriam-Webster's online dictionary has to say:

    genre: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content

    oeuvre: a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer

    Ringwald movie watchers and sci-fi readers take note!