Thursday, May 27, 2010

Parvum Opus 370: POCast

Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere


’Tude Dude

Recent license plate spotting:


Eggplants and Cliff Apes

Here are two insults new to me.

  • From Will Smith in the movie Enemy of the State: “Eggplant”. I though it was a variant on Oreo – black on the outside, white on the inside. Except that eggplants are deep purple. I’m no doctor, but that would suggest a health problem to me. Anyway, Will Smith was talking to an Italian, and Fred says he learned from an Army buddy that this is an Italian word for Negro: mulignana.
  • From a railroad security officer who recounted the story of a horrific murder to Fred. The crime took place in Kentucky, and in court the officer heard someone call the killers, “Damn hillbillies!” He answered, “I’m a hillbilly. Those are cliff apes.”


Referring to an unwelcome transmittal of revealing photos via phone, web, or something: “He posted graphic images.” Are there images that are not graphic? I don’t know when this happened, but “graphic” has taken on the sense of revealing or extreme or even obscene, but of course the original sense has to do with writing or pictures or graphs. The word has lost precision.


A good little selection of bad poetry is to be found on Seamus Cooney’s web site. I favor “Nature’s Cook” by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. We studied her in a graduate class on 17th century British women writers. Nature’s Cook, by the way, is Death. The poem is not for the squeamish.


Charlie Farrow, another Brit with access to the great Oxford English Dictionary (she sent links but not being a subscriber I can’t log in), quoted a lot of OED material about “drummers”, but there’s still no indication that salesmen ever really used drums. Charlie says army recruiters used drums and the term was then applied to salesmen.

The drummers were scary kind of guys; not only did they rouse the sensibilities of the young and impressionable to patriotism via drum (and fife) and blood curdling tales or heroism, (in the Navy this task was performed by the press gangs), but they also applied the cat-o-nine tails.

Interestingly, a reference from the 1883 Fisheries Exhib. Catal. (ed. 4) 160 tells us that fish too can be drummed up:

The fish are drummed up by striking two shells...together.


Dave DaBee was of the same opinion as Fred about the gym trainer saying “no problem” about the … problem.

Re "no problem" -- my guess is she was saying "You don't need to apologize for pointing it out." I'm not interested in commenting more on the warped state of mind that would lead to that, but I bet it's right.

Dave also wrote about “alleged”:

Re alleged: Another fuzzy thinking thing -- when a person is murdered, there's no "alleged" about the event. An individual might be called alleged until convicted, but our dopey editors seem to think they have to say alleged about the event itself.

Good distinction. And he correctly predicted that his mom would respond to CMPN.

Anne DaBee wrote:

Rhonda -- have you noticed that I usually respond to your less intellectual postings? Here I go again.

Actually Anne always has a lot of pertinent and worthwhile stuff to add when I complain about the state of education. Anyway, she sent these:

Re Redneck's Readin' Test: Many, many years ago there was a similar "exercise", as follows.

AB, C D Goldfish?

L, M N O Goldfish


Perhaps there was more -- my aging mind has forgotten things far more important!

And re Job Titles:

A woman, renewing her driver's license, was asked by the clerk behind the counter to state her occupation. After a moment's hesitation, the busy mother of 4, who was tired of having to enter "housewife" on such forms, told the clerk she was a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations.

Obviously impressed by such a grand title, the clerk asked, "Just what do you do in your field of work?"

The applicant replied, "I do continuing research, in the laboratory and in the field. I'm working for my Masters and already have 4 credits. Of course, the job is the most demanding in the Humanities, and I often work 14 hours a day, but the job is more challenging than most and the rewards are more about satisfaction than money."

Long story shorter, her Child Development Program staff consisted of:

Lab assistants, ages 13, 7, and 3, and an experimental model, 6 months old.

This obviously makes Grandmothers Senior Research Associates, Great Grandmothers Executive Senior Research Associates, Aunts Assistant Research Associates, etc.

And for all those years, I thought I was "just" a Mom.

I love the “experimental model”!

I would have enjoyed growing up in the DaBee household.

(Note: Fred adds: O G I C U R P N. Y R U P N 2?)


The language school I work for requires instructors to fill out daily reports called something like “pedagogical forms” on all classes. One day I sent mine in and called it a “pedcast” and my supervisor was so taken with the word, he has been using it ever since. I feel that I’ve contributed something to the world. But only people who know both “pedagogical” and “podcast” will be amused. It’s not quite logical, anyway. “Podcast” has to do with broadcasting, which originally meant sowing (casting) seeds broadly over a field. The pod is the I-Pod, which allows you to load all kinds of music and audio onto your tiny pod. All that history behind pedcast! Anyway, the pedcast does not strew information widely, it funnels information narrowly to the company.

Caveman Scrabble

Dennis Miller said he and his son play Caveman Scrabble, wherein they make nonsense words like “bumshee” but the kick is in making up the definitions, like “that’s the cudgel you use to gouge out the T-rex’s eyes to make a nice pumice cream”. Sounds like a good game.

Facebook Plant

From someone’s Facebook post:

[She] is a bit squicked by mosquito trying to bite her while mating. Call her a prude, she was never much into mixing food and sex.

Never heard of “squicked” but maybe it’s a combination of icky and squeamish? And who’s mating here, the mosquito or the squicked?


Fred said after seeing a TV personality in person:

When you see them on TV they look more famous than they do in real life.”

The Weekly Gizzard: Moi on

I don’t know if I will switch to a bi-weekly (every other week, not twice a week) PO schedule this summer or not. I’m not any busier than before but my writing energy is perhaps slightly drained by too much Facebook time. A Facebook friend of a friend of a friend wrote:

I like you Rhonda, but don't RUIN things. If someone has a helpful piece of advice for someone else, don't downgrade generosity. Don't EVER do that Rhonda. You tend to be the ANTI-magician- you want to take the magic out of everything. i have been posting some really helpful tips for people, and you vist my wall just to downgrade them to mundanity when they are actually good tips. that PIS*ES me off. Do not steal my fire because life is stealing enough of it. JUST BE SUPPORTIVE AND downgrade them to mundanity when they are actually good tips. that PISSES me off. Do not steal my fire because life is stealing enough of it. JUST BE SUPPORTIVE AND PROMOTING.t to downgrade them to mundanity when they are actually good tips. that PISSES me off. Do not steal my fire because life is stealing enough of it. JUST BE SUPPORTIVE AND PROMOTING.

(Sic, except asterisk added as a spam filter evader.) What did I write to trigger this anguished response? The guy posted some clever and useful tech advice about a Facebook bug. I added my own solution, which was simpler, with no comment favorable or otherwise about his, which was more ingenious but more complex. Thus the anti-magic. I guess. I thought it was just an info exchange. (And I didn’t visit his wall -- if you know how Facebook works -- people’s messages just appear on your own page and you can respond or not.)

Then there’s the troll who entered comments on “Working America” below. A troll is such a ubiquitous Web creature that Wikipedia has a lengthy history and explanation of the type, among others. This particular troll, who calls himself Meatbrain (the “brain” part is hyperbole), pops up here and there on the Web and accuses people of willfully lying. I only respond to him for the sake of the other readers.

The Dalai Lama says he's a marxist

Monday, May 24, 2010

As much as one hates to use political labels, one knows how to complete this sentence: "A ------- is...

Working America wants your signature

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Working America is sending people door to door in Cincinnati, handing out literature and asking people to sign up....



I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and on for download to computer and for printing. Amazon now has a downloadable Kindle reader so you don’t have to spend hundreds on the little handheld device. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Kindle store and

* The Man from Scratch is about cloning, escort services, murder, and restaurants in Akron, Ohio, featuring Roxy Barbarino, writer for Adventuress Magazine. Novel.

* A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. ( 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.

NEW PRODUCTS in CafePress:

Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).

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NEW: Click to Embiggen boxer shorts

Eschew Obfuscation bumper sticker


Graphic covers of my books

Dulce, Utile, et Decorum (Sweet, Useful, and Proper), title of new collection of Parvum Opus, Volume I

BUMPER STICKER: Dulce, Utile, et Decorum

No Pain, No Pain

Star o’ the Bar

Veritas Vincit (Truth Conquers) with Keith clan Catti insignia

Flash in the Pants

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

PWE (Protestant Work Ethic)

I am here maternity tops

I eat dead things (doggy shirt, pet dishes, and BBQ apron)

If you don’t see exactly what you want — a particular design or text on a particular item — let me know and I’ll customize products for you.


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.

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Parvum Opus now appears at 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 and music clips of great blues man Sonny Robertson and the Howard Street Blues Band at and, with his new original song, "A Different Shade of Blue". And listen to Judy Joy Jones’s interview with Sonny.

PEACE MISSION INDIA blogs the progress of Pastor Roy Jacob’s mission to build churches in India. Now 79, Pastor Roy (who is an Indian) has built 10 churches, and has a girls’ school to rescue girls from the mountains and jungles who otherwise might be married off as children or perhaps sold.

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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