Thursday, December 20, 2007

Parvum Opus 257 ~ Bon Bon Mots

Number 257
December 20, 2007



Here is a silly Christmas greeting to all of you from me, Fred, and the cat (if you want to see what we look like): (For those of you who got the beta version, this is somewhat improved; Fred’s face isn’t so red.)

Merry Christmas to all, and merry non-Christmas too.


Frankee sent a “nice image”:

One of the people in my class was complaining about how the postal service never seems to be willing to do the hard things necessary to deal with poor performers. In his words, "we always deal with them with kitten gloves".

Yes, I prefer the period outside the quote.

I want kitten gloves for Christmas!


Jim Simmons sent me the 12/16/07 Opus cartoon strip (which I was already planning to use; coincidence? ... perhaps....). Opus the penguin is making up words that he calls little bon bon mots:

giving up all hope for a flat stomach = abdicate

rescue vehicle for carrying squashed folks to the hospital = flatulance


An Australian Santa provider has asked its Santas not to say “Ho Ho Ho!” because it might frighten the children or insult hos, I mean women. Santas can frighten children no matter what they say or how they laugh, but as for the insult potential ~ this is a case of bad words driving out good. If we stopped using every word that has been used to insult someone, we’d be reduced to a vocabulary of about ten words, all articles and conjunctions probably.

Here at home, some people are calling for Santas to be thin from now on, as examples for children. One guy calls it “updating Santa’s brand”. Santa is a brand?


Regarding "generously tipped the entire staff after his 50th birthday party at the restaurant", which I thought should be “tipped the entire staff generously”: Mike Sykes wrote, “It suggests to me that he was generous to tip everybody, rather than only those who served his party.” That’s a good possibility, probably more likely than my interpretation. You’d have to read it with the emphasis on “entire”.


||| Church sign: “Download your worries. Get online with God.” Shouldn’t that be “Upload your worries”? Sounds like God is sending the worries ~ of course, that’s why we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”

||| Cooking program: “We certainly do like to imbibe in sugar.” First, “imbibe” means drink and is not followed by “in”, although you can drink in something, like a beautiful sunset. Second, we don’t imbibe sugar. Sugary drinks, yes, but I think the cook meant something like indulge in sugar, consume sugar, scarf down sugar.

||| On Oprah: “If it doesn’t hurt other people, quantification has to be added.” This was a show about polygamy (or “plural marriage”). I don’t understand that sentence.

||| From somewhere: “In ten years India’s going to transcend China in terms of population.” It’s surpass, not transcend. Transcend means to rise above qualitatively, perhaps into another plane of existence altogether, while surpass just means to pass quantitatively. And why is it so hard to construct a sentence without “in terms of”? “In ten years India’s population will be bigger than China’s.” Might India transcend China in terms of, say, spiritual enlightenment?

||| Library counter sign by piles of books and tapes: “Please feel free to Check-Out one.” First, “check-out” with a hyphen is a noun; the verb does not take the hyphen. Second, why capitalize it? Third, I’d say “check one out” (but, “check out a book”). Fourth, shouldn’t a librarian know these things? Fifth, don’t I need a drink?


Dave DaBee hipped me to Novels in Three Lines, a book of three-line novels written by Felix Feneon. They read more like police report summaries, intriguing but lacking character development and denouement. Here’s an original by me, inspired by Feneon:

The cat sharpened its claws on the corner of the expensive new leather couch. After that, it was forced to eat its meals on the porch, despite the cold weather.

Dave also sent this item from The Onion:

According to a groundbreaking new study by the Department of Labor, working ~ the physical act of engaging in a productive job-related activity ~ may greatly increase the amount of work accomplished during the workday, especially when compared with the more common practices of wasting time and not working.

This reminds me of a typical word puzzle that translates a common saying into ponderous language: “A manually-restrained denizen of the avian world is more valuable than two specimens in the foliage.” But I like The Onion’s style of humor better, stating the obvious in journalese or academese.


My mom used to say someone or something was frozen into a cocked hat. Why a cocked hat? I couldn’t Google up the phrase, although I learned that “knocked into a cocked hat” means to get beaten soundly.


When did the makeup that makes your cheeks red change from rouge to blush (both of which can be nouns or verbs)? Rouge is French for red; blush is English and comes from a root that’s more about shining or blazing (as Romeo said, “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!”). My theory is that the word rouge became too closely associated with the artificiality of makeup, while blush was something that girls used to do naturally and implies innocence. But I think women use the color to look healthier, brighter, more vivid, not necessarily more innocent. A better name might be glow, or for the Anglophile, plain old red. It’s all about blood in the face; no one blushes any other color, although we do have bronze makeup for the summer look.


David Hazinski, an associate professor of journalism, thinks there should be some sort of certification for “citizen journalists”. In other words, if you want to post a story or your opinion on your blog, someone official ~ such as him, presumably ~ should train you and give you the OK. Even if you’re not getting paid. He compares the “citizen journalist” to a “citizen surgeon” or a “citizen lawyer”. Bad analogies, and I won’t even bother to explain why, except to say that it doesn’t require all that much skill to get a job as a journalist (and none to make bad analogies) ~ and certainly very little to get a journalism degree these days. And no amount of training will make an ethical journalist.


Herb H. is pressing all his nieces and nephews (and me) to take this test ~ at you can test your knowledge of U.S. history. I did better than the Harvard students’ mean score, but not as well as Herb’s 90%. Must study.


The New York Post’s headline on the death of Ike Turner: “Ike ‘Beats’ Tina to Death”. I saw Ike and Tina perform together years ago at the Ohio State Fair. They never did it nice and easy. Rest in peace, please.


Reader Ezra Sykes is running the Boston Marathon and raising money for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, offering as an incentive for donation a CD of original songs for children, Juvenile by Design, by himself and David Brodie. Go to to make a contribution. If you'd rather donate by mail, make your check out to "MSPCC" and send it to his home address, 44 Nonantum Street, Brighton, MA 02135.


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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