Tag Archives: language


The prompt the otter day was carousel, a lovely word, but I had nothing. Twice before I poasted pomes with carousel and I was tapped out. Years ago I took relevant pics, but I had no time to hunt them down. For whatever reason, the word bounced around in my brainpain throughout the day. Maybe it was the associated music, plus the colorful horsies. Idk. I couldn’t stop thinking about carousels… then I remembered an old Mad Men episode where Don Draper was demonstrating a photo carousel. That was a very moving ep, as I recall. I loved that show until it JTS’d, which for me was around the time he left his wife and she married that creepy politician. Things just got too crazy after that. Plus didn’t it take them over a year to come up with a new season at some point? I lost interest.

Anyway. Thinking about Don Draper naturally led me to the word carouse, which I decided must be related to carousel. Well, isn’t it obvious? But that isn’t the case at all! In fact, I had totally the wrong idea about carouse, which is shocking after all my years of romance novel reading. I assumed it meant a wild night of partying and causing trouble in the streets, being loud, probably making obscene suggestions to women, etc. But no. It basically means a drinking spree. You can be doing the partying, but that’s secondary to the drinking.

1550s, from Middle French carousser “drink, quaff, swill,” from German gar aus “quite out,” from gar austrinken ; trink garaus “to drink up entirely.” Frequently also as an adverb in early English usage ( to drink carouse).

Huh. Well, anyway. I looked up carousel too, which was as expected. I didn’t know the origin though, which is interesting.

“merry-go-round,” 1670s, earlier “playful tournament of knights in chariots or on horseback” (1640s), from French carrousel “a tilting match,” from Italian carusiello, possibly from carro “chariot,” from Latin carrus (see car ).

These quotes are from dictionary-dot-com.

Carousel cake


The Search for Nuance

The search for nuance
Came up nil–
Not a single folder spilled
Out a poem or post
In all these years,
Not even a ghost;
No evidence I ever
Used a subtle, filmy
Delicate negligee
Of a word,
A mysterious trail of lace,
Leaving a coy, flirtatious trace,
Instead of my usual
Bludgeons of bluntness.

But it is this, dammit, I scream:
Can’t you see?
My shrieks echo ’round the mountain,
But Narcissus long ago
Fell into the stream,
And everyone else has
Packed up their picnics
And gone home…
It looks like rain.

It’s time to stop yelling, Paula;
Whisper your pain
To the slowly swirling clouds.


The Daily Prompt: Nuance

The Vice Principle

Isn’t that a great title?

It’s actually available, not that you couldn’t use a title that’s out there (sort of ~ you probably wouldn’t want to reuse The Maltese Falcon unless you were doing something funny like The Mall Tease Falcon, which, surprisingly, is also available).

Whenever I see/hear the “vice-principal” or the “vice-president” I automagically put the emphasis on the first syllable because I’m just wired that way, wired to be weird, I guess. Although I prefer to think of it as wired to be hilarious. YMMV.

Maybe that’s why Breaking Bad really kicked in for me with the introduction of Saul Goodman, the guy to call when you need a criminal lawyer. Loved that so much.

But they’re entirely different things, vice and vice. 🙂

I don’t know how anyone learns English. How is it possible for someone to learn it as an adult? I can’t even. It’s such a disorganized, horrible mishmash. Where would you even begin? Why do I speak such a messy language, argh?!?

No wonder there are so many misunderstandings.

According to the dico, vice means moral depravity or corruption; a moral fault or failing; or a habitually and usually trivial defect or shortcoming. So, it’s anything from kidnapping children into a sex slavery ring to popping your gum all day at the office cube farm.

Clearly we don’t need the word “vice” for any of the things along the spectrum from trivial to hideous because we have much more specific words for all of them. Vice is useless as a noun and should be used only as a preposition or prefix.

However! The Vice Principle is still a great title and I give it to you because I’m all bogged down in otter things right now. Plus it sounds like it’d be a title for either a detective story (or a story in a series of detective stories) or some sort of self-help woo book, and neither of those would be the sort of book I’d write.

I almost wrote a mystery/suspense novel once, but it didn’t work out. And when I say almost wrote, I mean I wrote about 50 pages, which is what my friend AH once said we all can do. What really separates the writers from the wannabes is what happens after 50 pages.

I’m not a mystery writer.


Via The Daily Prompt: Vice

The Radical Radish

I was thinking about the word radical the otter day for some reason, and I looked it up. Most of us think of it as extreme, right? Well, that’s the second (and third) part of the definition. The first is more interesting:

of or going to the root or origin; fundamental

When I saw that I thought of radish ~and indeed further down you can see that they mention radish as they discuss the word origin and history of radical:

late 14c., in a medieval philosophical sense, from Late Latin radicalis “of or having roots,” from Latin radix (genitive radicis) “root” (see radish ). Meaning “going to the origin, essential” is from 1650s. Radical sign in mathematics is from 1680s.

Regarding math, we have… “pertaining to or forming a root.” Radix is the base of a number system.

Radical… radish… radix. Roots. Very cool.  Is it radical to get back to your roots? One wouldn’t think so, but… 😀



I picked up Jewel by Bret Lott at the HB public library sale the other month. Began reading it last week. Today I decided I’m not going to finish it. While the story itself is mildly interesting,  I just can’t stand the constant use of the n-word.

I know that might sound strange coming from a person who is OK with every swear word under the sun, and then some. But I was brought up by parents who never EVER used ethnic slurs, and these words all make me super-uncomfy,  especially the n-word. So much so for that one I can’t even bring myself to spell it out. I think I said it once in my life as an experiment… and felt awful for a long time afterward.

There is no rational basis for my feeling, just as there’s no rational basis for the idea that swear words are the worst thing imaginable. Both are silly notions, imo. Yet the fact remains that the n-word is such a huge turn-off for me I will abandon a book rather than see it on every page.

As a corollary,  I completely understand when someone irrationally hates swear words, and I will make a reasonable effort to be accommodating when on their turf.

That said, there is one sentence early on in Jewel, page 5, that I find totes cool and discussion-worthy.

“But it’s history that matters, what keeps you together in the tight ball of nerves and flesh you are and makes you you and not someone else.”

Agree? Is it history that makes you who you are, the collective memory of stories you’ve been told, whether true or false or warped out of original shape… or something else entirely?

Fruit & Nuts

On the recommendation of a friend I bought and read Pears and Perils by Drew Hayes. What a fun book! The plot was zany and unpredictable; the characters fresh and humorous. The story veers from philosophical to just plain wacky. While the protag was great, I totes loved “Thunder,” a hybrid hipster/surfer kinda dude who had his own language.

The best part was of course that a kitty had a starring role in the book.

Here are some cool quotes to possibly get a few of you interested in reading further:

Cats are already experts in freeing themselves, and ones with a bit of divine blood move into the realm of supernatural. For an instant Clint felt like he was trying to keep his grip on a shadow dunked in mercury; then it was over and the cat was racing across the field away from him. [P&P]

April might not be as good at reading people as she was at reading books, but even she could tell that beneath this peace and love mentality there was a basement of something more complex: a place that was shut away from the world, where armor and axes were carefully stowed and just beginning to rust. [P&P]

OooOOOoo. Read the book. 🙂

A Whore’s Breakfast

My new band name.

The first time I remember reading the phrase “a whore’s breakfast” was in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Are you old enough to remember when that book was a thing? Good. As I vaguely recall, some mean bastard husband (are there any other kind?) said that to his wife when she and the kids were having birthday cake for breakfast.

I loved the phrase, especially because I’ve been eating cake for breakfast ever since I learned to count calories. Instead of smashing all my calories into an enormous dinner, I often save the dessert for the next day. I don’t like feeling full at bedtime, and it’s fun to look forward to cake (or pie, if you’re one of the weirdos who prefer pie to cake) in the AM.

(Sometimes I have dessert instead of dinner just to mix it up. Yes, I am a wild and crazy chick.)

Urban Dico says that a whore’s breakfast is coffee and a cigarette though. Or possibly a Coke. Hmm. Those just sound like high school breakfasts to me. Not that being in HS and being a whore have to be mutually exclusive.

I prefer to think of cake, especially birthday cake, as the true whore’s breakfast. It’s just so decadent and anti-traditional. Goes against everything your mom told you was Right & Good.

My bosses bought a delicious red velvet cake for my birthday Wednesday and I had a leftover piece for breakfast. Soooo good!


I hope my pairing of whore and cake in the same poast generates a whole bunch of new bloghits and readers!

On Round Flat Objects

Roy asks a very important question regarding Oreos… do we call the crispy cookies “disks” or “discs.” (I called them “discs” in my poastie here.)

I pondered this question mightily for a few seconds and then realized… I haz no fucking clue. So, off to Google I went. Apparently this is an eternal question that has been boggling the brains of peeps for years.

The Grammarist says they’re interchangeable, except for puter stuffs, though his examples lead me to believe that the cookie object should probably be a disk. His commenters, who all sound smart, both agree and disagree. OK.

Wikipedia has an interesting entry on the origin and evolution of the words, mostly focusing on technology. Plus it says that disc is more popular in the UK. Perhaps I was channeling a Brit, hopefully Hugh Grant.

Grammar Girl only talks about the words in puter and medical usage, not the cookie world. Hmm.

Oxford Dictionary backs up Wiki with respect to English-English vs. American.

Overall? I kinda think I should have spelled it “disk,” since I’m American. RAH RAH!

Thanks Roy ~ this was fun! 🙂

(And yes, I use a tilde instead of a dash in informal writing because I’m cool like that.)

Let’s Get Physical

Gekko asked, regarding a romance novel we’re both reading…

I do wonder if it’s standard and required for nipples to be dusky pink? Also, must the guy be “handsome” and “hard bodied” all the time, or are there romance novels where the guy is a bit pudgy and squishy? Not that I find “Mike” off-putting (yet)! I mean, I’m all for good looking, hard bodied males, lord knows! I just wondered if there was a standard.

I think that in novels where the heroines are Caucasian, the nipples are pretty much universally described as some shade of pink, though not necessarily “dusky.” I’ve just glanced through a few books on my shelves and found these descriptions: “rosy peaks” and plain “pink” … that’s it from a cursory check. Frankly I was surprised I didn’t find more flowery phrases, but then again, most sex scenes are written from the female POV, so the reader is given her feelings and descriptions of the hero, not the other way around. The scenes that are from the hero’s POV are more likely to be ones where he has to chase some bad guy who’s abducted her.

All romance novel heroes are handsome and fit, though it is acceptable to have a war injury, not that this can ever affect performance in bed obviously. A hero is not “squishy,” physically or morally. Speaking of that, James Bond would not be a true RN hero because he has sex with women already in relationships. Idk what made me think of James Bond. Weird! 🙂

Heroines, though, can be all different. Some are  young and slim; others are older and curvier. Jennifer Crusie writes overweight heroines and makes them super-sexy. They can be anywhere from petite (short) to supermodel height, and don’t always fit the established standard of beauty, while the male lead in general must be classically good-looking and over six feet tall.

Isn’t that interesting? Don’t we always assume that romance novels give unfair stereotypes of women, but maybe we’re looking at it the wrong way around. Remember that women are largely writing these novels, as fantasies for other women.

Oh, the novel that Gekko and I are reading is called Fiona’s Fling ~ you should buy a copy for yourself!

Sex and Chocolate

I can’t overemphasize the importance of titles. Well, actually I can ~ and I will. Titles have become more important than covers in the digital age. You clicked on this, right? 🙂

Here’s a good example in the current Atlantic Monthly of two articles, one with a dead boring title and another with something that sounds so weird you just have to check it out. I give you…

Court Torpedoes Recess Appointments With the Word “The”

Wtf does that even mean? And who cares? Despite the nice use of an action verb, this title is a huge snorefest. “The word the” ~ my god, let’s sound more awkward next time, OK? Here’s a sample gibberishy sentence from the article:

That’s particularly unfortunate because the theory of judicial originalism centers on an indefensible intellectual claim — that one judge, or a multi-judge panel, can somehow know the “real meaning” of a provision enacted centuries ago, in a world as alien to ours as Narnia or Barsoom.

With a good editor, the whole thing could be much more exciting and also incite fun comments like the next article does.

The Problem of DIY Penis Implants

Normally I wouldn’t care about penis implants, but DIY penis implants? Now that’s just damn intriguing. I mean… what? How? I just have to read that.

Like most exotic sexual practices, penile implants date back to the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the first written evidence that stimulating objects were inserted by “perforating” the penis or the glans, was found in the ancient sex manual. In Thailand, a bronze dog statue with a penile bearing could be proof that the procedure existed in the fourth century.

And I’m not disappointed. The article mentions dominoes. Would I lie? Well, OK. But I’m not lying! And don’t forget the comments ~ fun stuff there. I heart commenters. Hint, hint. [Fucking Firefox, stop underlining everything! I spell how I want to!]

I come up with good titles, if I do say so myself. Monday at crit group I said I might not have The Crunchy Snake ready by next meeting and they were all, wow, that’s a great title. Yep. Actually I stole it from a long-ago poast on our Fruitcake froup, but the story itself is my very own.

Names are almost as important as titles, as discussed elsewhere. In a romance novel, I’ll give my female lead a pretty, slightly unusual name, such as Fiona, and my male lead a normal guy’s name like Mike. Those are actually the characters’ names in the novel that’s allegedly being considered for publication ~ I didn’t realize there’s a TV show with protags having those names. My bad. Not that it matters. Minor characters either have dull names to fade into the background, or weird ones, depending on their purpose. If I give a character a stereotyped name, it’ll be either to exploit that stereotype or explode it.


Diane Cupcake