Friday, August 28, 2009

Parvum Opus 336 ~ Truth-Shaped Tattoo

Watch Those Acronyms

Our little surburban town is offering training for volunteers to assist in case of an outbreak of epidemic. These volunteers are called Point of Dispensing Core Volunteers. In other words, POD people. I won’t be volunteering.

Who gets the job of naming? Is that a political patronage job for one’s political enemies?

Foreign Accent Syndrome

Interesting story about a radio announcer who had a stroke, lost her voice, and resumed speaking with what sounds like some sort of British accent. I don’t think the narrator should have said she was “afflicted” with an English accent but her friends did tend to think she was faking it. Some of my adult ESL students must feel they are afflicted with English, and that if they develop a convincing American accent, they are being unfaithful to themselves.

The switch in accent makes sense when you consider that sounds are produced by the shapes our tongues and lips make, and if brain or nerve damage changes one’s control over the mouth, the sounds naturally might be different.

I had some sort of tiny episode about ten years ago that left me unable to speak quite as quickly as I used to, but I only noticed it had happened when I couldn’t say one particular phrase as quickly as before: “That’s a good idea.” I stumbled before the word “good”. I must have used that phrase quite a bit. Better than saying “That’s a bad idea.” My speed has improved somewhat over the years.

Worst Stadium Name

I thought Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland) was the worst new stadium I’d ever heard of until I heard the corporate name of the new stadium at my alma mater, The University of Akron: InfoCision Stadium. Akron U., which is in the center of town, was due a new stadium. For decades they’d used the Rubber Bowl, which was a few miles out on the outskirts of town, next to Soap Box Derby Downs. Akron thrived for a long time as Rubber City when the big rubber companies set up shop there. The Rubber Bowl sounded good and paid homage to a whole industry and region. But InfoCision? What is it and how long will it last?

Akron’s school team is the Zips and the mascot is Zippy the Kangaroo. Someone has suggested “The Pouch” as a nickname for the new stadium. Beats InfoCision, which sounds like a surgical procedure.

Speaking of my alma mater, as fond as I am of Akron U., I can’t think of it as my soul mother. Maybe my soul aunt: alma amita?

Spinner, Necker, Suicide

After I broke my right arm in July, it took longer than it might have to resume driving because I have a stick shift, so I thought it might be helpful and fun to put a knob on my steering wheel to allow me to turn it more easily with just my left hand. And it would look cool. I’m driving that stick shift now with approximately 1-1/2 hands.

Fred said when he was a teen they called the steering wheel attachment a “necker knob”. You could use one hand to steer and one hand to hold your honey. (Do kids still use the term “neck” or “necking” to refer to whatever, or do they just go immediately from physical proximity to intercourse with no stops along the way?)

Anyway, Fred had a job done on his truck and when he asked the man at the auto shop about necker knobs, the guy said they called them “suicide knobs” because they can break off when you’re driving. So I didn’t get one. (Actual name: spinner knobs.)

A Little Proofreading

I’m reading Lie Down With the Devil by Linda Barnes, whose mysteries I enjoy because they’re set in and around Boston, and she writes a good story. But she could use a bit of editorial help.

For instance here: “I sat in the car, the feeble heater eking out a stream of warm air…” Eke is an old Anglo-Saxon word that is used wrongly most of the time. People have heard the old expression “to eke out a living” which they understand means to make a paltry living. What it means literally is to add to a small living with something else. You can, for instance, eke out your pension with a little moonshining on the side. People seem to have the idea that it means squeeze out a living or produce something with difficulty, but eke is really like add or augment. When I read “eking out a stream of warm air” I pictured the heater adding a bit of warmth to some other heat source, but that didn’t make sense. It made more sense to think that Barnes misused the word the way so many others do, professional writer though she is.

Barnes also wrote that someone had a “rose-shaped tattoo”. Shaped is extraneous and in fact misleading. A rose-colored tattoo would be pinkish but might not really be a picture of a rose. Something could be shaped like a rose yet be intended for something else, like a fluffy pink cloud (in the case of a sloppy tattoo artist). You might as well say an anchor-shaped tattoo, a cross-shaped tattoo, a tiger-shaped tattoo, or a hula-girl shaped tattoo.

Creative Nonfiction

I know a grad student who’s taking a class in Creative Nonfiction. I jokingly asked (on Facebook) if that meant lying. She said “, not really...falsification is certainly frowned upon, though truth will more than likely be revealed as subjective...”

To which I added, “Oh, that kind of ‘truth’. There's yours, mine, ours, theirs, and some in unclaimed freight.”

I never took writing classes in college, neither fiction nor nonfiction and certainly not creative. Not even journalism. It must be since I graduated that truth began to be subjective, and no one sent me the memo. Nevertheless, so often I’ve noticed that when I voice or write an unpopular opinion, there is no cheerful chorus approving “my” truth.


Bob O. wondered if I was reading Saul Alinsky just to put Obama in a bad light. I’m reading Alinsky to understand the source material first hand, and fortunately the books are very short. From all I’ve read, Obama was much influenced by Alinsky, and it’s up to the reader — up to you — to decide if this is good or bad. Last week I mentioned the restaurant scam anecdote last week. I don’t fault a person for stealing if he’s starving, and the Depression was a tough time. But people handled it in very different ways.

Now I’ve bought Rules for Radicals, originally published in 1971; my edition is copyright 1989. The dedication to Lucifer remains in this edition. Whether or not you think this reflects poorly on Obama perhaps depends on how you think about Lucifer, the most beautiful of the angels. Or maybe this is a part that O skipped, like some details he missed in 20 years of Jeremiah Wright sermons.

I’m still reading the prologue. He refers to the revolutions in Russia and China as the “panaceas of the past”. Depends on who you talk to. Any kulaks remaining to ask about the Russian panacea? Alinsky writes that “all values and factors are relative, fluid, and changing” (that truth thing again) so the kulaks’ truth will be different from his.

My Week on

CIA may undergo further investigation

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Will Obama once again stop his people from investigating CIA interrogation techniques,

The resume of a czar

Monday, August 24th, 2009

The biggest problems that we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power...
Fear of death not a NOW story

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Fathima Rifqa Bary is a 17-year-old girl who ran away to Florida from Ohio because she converted from Islam to...
Mass murderer goes home a hero

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Who is surprised that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was received as a hero in Libya after ...



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Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at; 2009 issues are at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2009. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

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