Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Unremembered Greatness of A-Rod

Maybe it's just me. I don't consume a lot of baseball media, but it doesn't seem like he enters conversations about great home run hitters very often. This impression of mine might also result from the fact I'm not a fan of his. I have called him Pay-Rod and Pay-Roid. I've booed him in Seattle and NY. I wouldn't vote for him to be in the Hall of Fame because of the PED mess he was caught up in though I've mellowed over time about him abandoning Seattle for a divisional rival and an enormous paycheck.

But what can get lost in all the weirdness and oddity that was his career, including a girlish slap at a glove attempting to avoid being tagged out, shouting to distract infielders going after a pop-up while running the bases, and ending his career feuding with the team that employed him and the MLB, is how insanely he could mash a baseball.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Words of power

Interesting that this and abracadabra both have uncertain origins. This word seems to have more of a faux-Arabic sound to my ear, as if the original coinage was attempting to play upon the mysterious and mystic perception of the Middle East. The tendency to have people vary the end of the word while retaining the beginning also seems to argue in support of such an idea.

alakazam, int.

Used as an exclamation imparting supposed magical power, as when performing a trick. Hence in extended use, connoting any sudden transformation or happening. Cf. ABRACADABRA int.

In quot. 1902   as part of an extended magical formula.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Measured stone

Who knew it was also a unit of measure? The only citation for sense 3 of the noun form is... another dictionary. Also, I own a (much more recent) copy of this dictionary. Old dictionaries tend to be veritable fonts of old and interesting, though not always useful, information. One of my favorite things.

alabaster, n. and adj.

A. n.

1. An ornamental stone consisting of a fine-grained, compact, translucent form of gypsum or (esp. with reference to ancient artefacts) calcite, typically white or tinted or clouded with yellow, red, and other colours, and suitable for carving into vases, figures, etc.

In modern use the term alabaster generally refers to a form of gypsum, but ancient alabaster statuary is often calcitic.

burnt, oriental alabaster: see the first element.

2. Ancient History. A vessel for holding perfume, unguents, or ointments; = ALABASTRUM n. 1, ALABASTRON n.

3. A unit of capacity for liquids equal to half a sextary (approx. 0.6 pint, 0.3 litre). Obsolete. rare.

B. adj.

1. Made out of alabaster.

2. fig. Esp. of skin: like alabaster in whiteness or smoothness.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #26

wrapping dumplings
with one hand brushing back
her bangs

chimaki ya
katate ni hasamu
hitai gami


Translated by Jane Reichhold

Friday, June 22, 2018

Tikki Tikki Tembo

It has a clear enough meaning and the history of the word goes back nearly 600 years with little change, yet the etymology is uncertain. The OED has several guesses listed, but none is quite satisfactory. Delightfully, the original word appears to have been used in conjunction with the word "in" or "on" preceding it and only gradually shifted into the attached prefix "a-".

Well, I think it's delightful.

akimbo, adv. and adj.

A. adv.


a. With hands on hips and elbows turned outwards.

b. With reference to (other) limbs, esp. the legs: spread or flung out widely or haphazardly.

2. More generally: askew, awry; in disorder.

B. adj.

Crooked, bent, or askew; that is in disorder, awry.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Roll those bones

There's a bizarre range of meanings for this word. According to the etymology it apparently started with a Sanskrit word for a place to play dice (and, as we all know, the, *ahem*, ladies love Sanskrit). The only consistent part of the meaning appears to be the fact that it is for a place where people gather.

akhara, n.

1. In India: a wrestling ring or pit; a gymnasium or outdoor exercise area.

2. Also with capital initial. In India: a convent or monastery, esp. of ascetics. Also: an order of ascetics or monks; spec. such a group forming a militant or armed regiment (now chiefly hist.).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #25

falling to the ground
a flower closer to the root
bidding farewell

chi ni taore
ne ni yori hana no
wakare kana


Translated by Jane Reichhold

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Stream? More like a trickle.

Sometimes people say to me, "Bob". "Bob", they say to me. "Bob, why do you get DVDs from Netflix instead of streaming movies?" The short and simple answer is that Netflix doesn't, by and large, stream the movies I want to see. My DVD queue tends to hover around the maximum number of 500, and rarely does it have more than a handful which are marked as being able to stream as well. In fact, at the moment, it has none. Zero of 492 movies available to stream. Hit the jump for the longer answer.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Master of the Tupperware

My wife would probably want to employ one of these people each time there's a potluck at church. Not a household office about which one hears often, but undoubtedly useful.

aker, n.

hist. Obsoleterare

A servant responsible for receiving and looking after vessels from the kitchen.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Will Ferrell is Strange

Will Ferrell is a very funny man. I've not seen the entirety of his oeuvre, but I've watched a few movies and seen number of his comedy sketches from SNL and other places. As humorous as Anchorman is, it's not his best work.

Comedies can be great movies, though they're not very often any longer. The Thin Man and It Happened One Night are a lot better as movies than a lot of comedies are today. On the other hand, you do sometimes see movies get made that have a comedic tone to them, but also deal with the serious side of things and are actually really good movies. Comic actors do their best work in these movies and can shock us when they get the chance to show the full range of their abilities.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #24

in a stork's nest
untouched by a storm
of cherry blossoms

ko no su ni
arashi no hoka no
sakura kana


Translated by Jane Reichhold

Monday, June 04, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #23

butterflies and birds
restlessly they rise up
a cloud of flowers

cho tori no
uwatsuki tatsu ya
hana no kumo


Translated by Jane Reichhold