Thursday, December 6, 2007

Parvum Opus 255 ~ Confabulogistic


Number 255

December 6, 2007



Listening to songs on YouTube the other night, I remembered several songs that referred to the way we listen to recorded music. Technological change makes the songs a bit quaint (not to mention the prices):

I wanna hear it again, I wanna hear it again,

The Old Piano Roll Blues.

Put another nickel in,

In the nickelodeon.

Put another dime in the jukebox.

Put another record on the record machine.

Will anyone write YouTube, iPod, or MP3 player into a song?


Dave DaBee has been as busy as one this week and sent all kinds of stuff.

Confabulogistic Bananagram

First, he asked what these words have in common:








Ooooo, a new one! Is there a name like palindrome for one of these? If not, let's ask El Ricardo!

Did you figure it out? I didn’t. If you move one end letter to the other end (in this list, the first letter), the word spelled backward is the same as the original word. I queried El Ricardo, Verbivore maven Richard Lederer, and of course he knew the name: embedded palindrome. He said the longest one in English is sensuousness ~ move the last letter to the front, and the word spelled backward is the original word. Dave wanted to suggest some less scholarly words, such as decapitated palindrome, one-headed or one-tailed palindrome, or palindro. Finally, combining two of the words on the list, Dave came up with Bananagram, which he calls a confabulogism. Word up.

Prosaic Depiction

Then he sent a link to a blog from Paul Levy with this sentence in it:

[In an Armenian grocery] First, though, she offered us a prosaic depiction of spices, explaining that each particular mix of spices in the world's cooking provides an arrow in the atlas in terms of the food's location and culture.

Of course prosaic is related to the word prose, as opposed to poetic, but prosaic has taken on the denotation of dull (same as prosy), which the Armenian grocery was not. The writer himself questioned his word, and Dave and others suggested substitutes for prosaic on the blog, so I won’t. But I also question depiction. Notice its relation to picture, pictorial, etc. Levy wanted to contrast the verbal description with the actual tasting of herbs that followed.


Dr. Levy has another post about his family’s invented word, lactard, for lactose intolerant people. He feels like it’s vaguely politically incorrect, I guess because of the intolerance issue? (Also, there’s a funny link to the Boston French Toast Alert site.)

The Tyranny of Structurelessness

My Sojourner story from last week’s PO prompted this memory from Dave:

While working on the school paper summer production staff, summer of '72, BiIl R and I worked on an outside production job for one of the social experiment feminist groups of the era. The article we remember best was titled "The Tyranny of Structurelessness," about what happens when you try to start a social group that has a mission, without having any structure to the enterprise. Kinda weird, but I must acknowledge the kids of the era for being bold enough to follow their ideals.

Guess what, I found the article, by Jo Freeman aka Joreen. (I too followed my unstructured ideals ~ very unstructured, no social groups or missions involved ~ and got whacked for it from time to time. But there’s no other way.)

The Dickens

Finally, Dave asked where “full of the dickens” comes from, and said he couldn’t get no sadistfaction from Google. Both and give it as an old British variant of the devil, possibly a diminutive of devilkins.

Brit., Slang devil; deuce: used, with the, only in interjectional phrases, as a mild oath or exclamation of annoyance, surprise, or frustration: What the dickens is that about?

Not a moment too soon, Dave is starting a new blog of his own.

IF IT LOOKS LIKE A TENNIS BALL... lists “dirty tennis ball” as an urban (i.e. black) expression for that very short hairstyle. So I feel vindicated in saying the chartreuse-haired woman was very like a tennis ball. Dea R. wrote:

Do the multi-colored tennis balls around Boston appear in several other hues besides greenish-yellow? One of them (I refer to them as "its") with reddish-orange fuzz gave me such a tongue lashing once that I felt just this side of a domestic violence episode. It was angry because I couldn't recognize it was being "gender none specific." I asked it, "How am I suppose to know the rules unless I look?" Angrily it reiterated that I shouldn't make assumptions, which is normally good advice except, the subject was specific about gender.

If someone camouflages the usual gender clues and then gets mad when you don’t guess right, he or she or it is just setting you up. Sounds like that tennis ball resented having a sex at all. Of course, some people get mad when you can’t tell if their baby is male or female. I can’t tell for sure what sex our current cat is.


The Lakota high school kids are going ahead with the production of And Then There Were None, but not on school grounds. The community has rallied against this ridiculous censorship of something that doesn’t even exist.

Harry H. wrote of another increasingly familiar instance of word fear:

I took an EEO class at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute about 10 years ago and they instructed us during the course of the class, attended by at least one newly appointed Ambassador, that it was o.k. for an overseas U.S. Embassy to have a party at Christmas (local national dignitaries are usually invited to these functions), as long as they didn't call it a "Christmas Party." Seems sort of like having a remembrance for the Martin Luther King official national holiday and not being authorized to mention the name “Martin Luther King," to me. Or President's Day, and not being able to mention the names of George Washington, Abe Lincoln, or Ronald Reagan.


You probably heard about Gillian Gibbons, the English woman teaching in Sudan who let the schoolchildren name a teddy bear Mohammed. She was, of course, imprisoned, and faced a whipping, plus thousands of Muslims demonstrated, calling for her death for the blasphemy, though Mohammed was a man, not a god, and oddly enough, Mohammed is a very popular name for men. (Has anyone noticed the word “ham” right in the middle of that illustrious name? Will we have to expunge that word from English?) Gibbons got sprung and she’s back in England, promoting tourism to Sudan. The teddy bear incident seems to be more of a public relations black eye for Sudan than the years of mass murder.

Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane threatened to name one of her children god (lower case), but thought perhaps it would be too great a burden, and changed the name to China ~ big, but not infinite. And of course vast numbers of Hispanics are named Jesus, pronounced Hay-soos, not Jee-zus. For some reason, while an English pronunciation would sound shocking, though it wouldn’t provoke imprisonment or death threats.


Harry H. likes the Po’ Folks restaurant menus, which use spellings that approximate southern or Appalachian pronunciations such as:

yore (your) sweet tooth

the dropped G in –ing words, such as diet-killin’ and cookin’

niller = vanilla

ya = you

ta = to

jest rite = just right (pronunciation plus spelling riffs)

li’l = little

onion rangs = rings

fried green t-maters = tomatoes

Po’ Folks = Poor Folks

I have a Kentucky cookbook, Out of Kentucky Kitchens (first printing in the 1940s), that distinguishes between grub, vittles (victuals), and repasts as an ascending order of quality or at least expense of menus.


Mike Sykes knew I meant “Inuit” not “Intuit”. Mike suggested if you’re going to rest in peas, make them frozen peas if you have a muscle spasm. He also said he knew someone who used to say “hit the nail on the thumb”, which any way you look at it is painful; try frozen peas.


Link here to look for books on!

Or click on underlined book links.

NEW SHOP: Scot Tartans. NEW STUFF AT Parvum Opus CafePress shop:

"Flash in the Pants"

"If you're so smart why aren't you me?"

"If you build it they won't come"

Rage Boy/Bat Boy: Can you spot the difference?

Akron U. Alma Mater: The Lost Verse

PWE (Protestant Work Ethic) tote bag

"I am here" T-shirt

"Someone went to Heaven and all I got was this lousy T-shirt"

"I eat dead things" doggy shirt and BBQ apron

Plus new kids’ things, mouse pad, teddy bear, stein, and more!


Parvum Opus now appears It is also carried by the Hur Herald, a web newspaper from Calhoun County, West Virginia. See Editor Bob Weaver's interview with me (February 10, 2007 entry), and the PO every week in Columns.

WHEN SONNY GETS BLUE! Check out the video clips of Sonny Robertson and the Howard Street Blues Band at and, with his new original song, "A Different Shade of Blue".

SEARCH IT OUT ON AMAZON : "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2; "Get wisdom! Even if it costs you everything, get understanding!" Proverbs 4:7:

The poet Muriel Rukeyser said the universe is not composed of atoms, but stories. The physicist Werner Heisenberg said the universe is not made of matter, but music.


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