Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere
You knew Ogden Nash! Can I touch you?
Anne DeBronkart wrote about the pelican limerick*:
I am so excited to learn that Anne DaBee actually met the great Ogden Nash. His were some of the bits of humorous verse I memorized as a young lass, including the turtle quatrain. Anne continued:
I agree about good puns. Actually, any sort of humor in literature is seldom given the same respect as drama, romance, or tragedy, though it may cover the same subjects, just as intelligently or more so. Even humorous mystery novelists are less respected than the others, as I once heard Joan Hess complain. (I met Hess at a writer’s conference and later walked her through an AOL chat room I’d set up for Sisters in Crime, its first online presence, I believe.)
When I was in school I loved humor writers too, but they were seldom in the syllabus. I often hid a library book behind my textbook in some classes, and the humorists were dangerous because I’d be snickering in history class or something and trying to hide it, and besides that, I really didn’t know any other kids with the same sense of literary humor. Dorkorama. Nerdinator. So Nash, Don Marquis, S. J. Perelman, and other funny guys (along with Nancy Drew) got me through my teens, God rest them. (Rich Lederer wasn’t extant as a writer till later in my life.)
* I first typed “limberick” which ought to be a word. Limericks do limber you up.
** I first heard “schnockered” from a college BF who got drunk a lot.
As for knowing famous poets, here’s Robert Browning’s comment:
“Mr. Fix It”
A rare instance of someone who understands the misuse of quotation marks. “Mr. Fix It” drives a kluged-up truck. To fully appreciate this bit of punctuation, look at the picture of the truck then think of MR. FIX IT without quotation marks. Then try these:
“Mr.” Fix It (handyman in drag?)
Mr. “Fix” it (like our recent computer repairman)
Mr. Fix “It” (something will get fixed but maybe not what you planned)
Overheard, Overheard in New York, New York
Cashier with cookbook: It's got a table of continents so you can see what's in it!
— Department Store, 225th St
Coworker: UPS didn't have the tracking information at first, but then they found it... Good thing, because I was about to blow a casket.
— Fordham University
From former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey (does he have a first name?):
“Bemoaned” is always a transitive verb, as far as I know. Carey can bemoan name-calling, name-calling being the object of the transitive verb. Or he can just moan.
“Prefixes that changed meaning instead of grammatic tense were always attached to the word they modified.” So says the everything2.com web site, which looks interesting and peculiar, if you have time for everything2. (I haven’t had time for everything1 or even everything yet.) In this case, however, “be” does not change the meaning of “moan” or the tense, but does change it from intransitive to transitive, which is not tense, that is, not about time.
In Wikipedia, the prefix “be” is explained to indicate:
But the Wiki entry confusingly defines adjectives while mixing verbs and adjectives as examples. We don’t use devil as a verb anymore, except with boiled eggs, but to bedevil is familiar as a verb as bedeviled is as an adjective. We don’t use witch much as a verb either. Maybe deviling and witching are less in our consciousness. But we still know the feeling, thus bedevil and bewitch. In becalm and bedazzle, “be” seems to be an intensifier. In none of these four examples does the meaning seem to be changed pejoratively or facetiously. You can’t say bedevil and bewitch are pejorative compared to their root words. Bewitching is even complimentary.
Is it still possible to prefix “be” to a word where it hasn’t been done before? How about … weed. I am going to weed the garden. If I said “I beweeded” the garden”, would it mean I really cleaned out the weeds, or I added weeds? “The garden was beweeded.” Sounds weedy to me. But the verb “weed” is a little dicey anyway. If I seed the garden, I plant seeds. If I weed the garden, I remove weeds. Beseeded, beweeded, let’s call the whole thing off. BUT … The garden is beseeded with morning glories. The garden is beweeded with bindweed.
Anent the imperfection of crossword puzzle magazines, this letter from a puzzled reader appeared in the March 2010 Dell Official Variety Puzzles:
The guy who wrote the letter is probably slapping his head over this one, but these tricky definitions are part of the game. They’re also the reason you can’t rely on a thesaurus for interesting variations in your vocabulary. But this is not the same as my complaint about defining “neutrality” as “peace” which is a philosophical or political assumption and not a definition.
Last week I meant that John McCarthy recommended The Anthologist (not George).
The Weekly Gizzard: Moi on Examiner.com
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A Norwegian priest, Fr. Reidar Voith of the Diocese of Oslo, on EWTN's program The Journey Home has an interest...
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The disaster in Haiti is causing all sorts of people to question why evil exists in the world, as if this is the...
Thursday, January 14, 2010
In the Cincinnati Enquirer today, two crime stories appear on page B2. Convicted murder Jerome Dennis turned...
I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and now also on Lulu.com for download to computer and for printing. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Amazon.com Kindle store and Lulu.com.
A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. (Lulu.com only.)
The Wish Book is fantasy-suspense-romance featuring the old Sears Roebuck catalogues. Novella.
Carl Kriegbaum Sleeps with the Corn is about a young gambler who finds himself upright in a cornfield in Kansas with his feet encased in a tub of concrete; how would you get out of a spot like that? Short story.
Still Ridge is about a young woman who moves from Boston to Appalachia and finds there are two kinds of moonshine, the good kind and the kind that can kill you. Short story.
Whither Spooning? asks whether synchronized spooning can be admitted to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Humorous sports article.
Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Cats: One woman's tale of menopause, in which I learn that the body is predictive; I perceive that I am like my cat; and I find love. Autobiographical essay.
Parvum Opus Volume I. The first year (December 2002 through 2003). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get PO’ed. Collection of columns.
10% discount on my Lulu publications:
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Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).
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. 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 2010. 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.