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AWADmail Issue 784

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Laugh and the World Laughs With You. Type “Ha”, Not So Much
The New York Times

Five Things You May Not Know About the Canadian ‘Eh’
Metro News

Why We Should Learn German
The Guardian

From: Kate Galloway (mplskate gmail.com)
Subject: grimthorpe

Perhaps the memey-ist grimthorpe of all? Jesus painting restoration.

Kate Galloway, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From: David Ornick (david.ornick ymail.com)
Subject: Grimthorpe

This Old House magazine used to have a page of once-fine houses that had been grimthorped, which they called “remuddled”.

David Ornick, Morgantown, West Virginia

From: Naomi Tuttle (nvtuttle gmail.com)
Subject: Grimthorpe

We should not let Trump grimthorpe the office of the presidency any longer. He is certainly remodeling the character of the office.

Naomi Tuttle, Charlottesville, Virginia

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: Mithridatize

A lovely example of the word mithridatize can be found in my favorite film, The Princess Bride. The hero, Westley, disguised as the Man in Black, engages in a battle of wits with the villain, Vizzini. He has placed the poisonous iocaine powder in one of two goblets of wine and tells his foe to choose which glass he wants before they both drink. After much convoluted reasoning, Vizzini selects, and they drink. Westley informs him that both cups were poisoned, but over the years he had acquired an immunity to iocaine by ingesting small amounts. Vizzini dies, and Westley continues his quest to rescue his love, Buttercup. (video, 4 min.)

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

From: Tabitha Korol (unsospiro sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mithridatize

There was a story (“Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne) about a father who made his daughter able to live among poisonous plants.

Tabitha Korol, Beachwood, Ohio

From: Larry Ray (callball bellsouth.net)
Subject: mithridatize

Are Americans, besieged with increasing doses of toxic politics, undergoing an inadvertent form of mithridatism?

Larry Ray, Gulfport, Mississippi

From: Frog Price (nickelfrog aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mithridatize

As a child I would drink the oil of the poison ivy plant in ever-increasing drops per glass of water to develop an immunity to its horrible blisters. It worked. We were in the woods camping most of the summer back then with friends and family.

Frog Price, Leeds, Alabama

From: Tony Pivetta (apivetta aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mithridatize

The etymology to today’s word brought to mind A. E. Housman’s delightful “Terence, this is Stupid Stuff”. The protagonist of Housman’s poem is a poet himself. He offers his art to his drinking buddies who, hell-bent on escapism, call him a wet blanket.

Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can’t be much amiss, ‘tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.

Art offers catharsis for the soul, Terence counters. It helps us deal with life’s inevitable struggles and disappointments.

Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ‘tis pleasant till ‘tis past:
The mischief is that ‘twill not last.

Art exposes us to trials and tribulations in small doses. It builds our psychic immunity, much as Mithridates’ increasing doses of poison built his physical immunity.

There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
-- I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

Tony Pivetta, Royal Oak, Michigan

From: Joel Athey (sparsit aol.com)
Subject: penelopize

To accept this as a verb is ridiculous, but -- let’s be generous -- it’s healthy summertime comic relief after grimthorpe and mithridatize. A unifying face for the week’s words so far: it is indeed a grim thorpe, and even though I’ve been mithridatizing ever since Shakespeare was argued as a verb or something, I feel its toxicity. It’s Greek to me, anyway.

Joel Athey, West Hollywood, California

From: Susan Gawarecki (llamaladysg yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: penelopize

I participate in llama rescue. One memorable girl dug in her toes and refused to move when I attempted to lead her, collapsing to the ground if I pulled harder. I named her Penelope because of her passive resistance. All she did was delay the inevitable, which was to be confined in a fenced area (my garden was the closest option). I later taught her to lead with little effort, and she found a good home.

Susan Gawarecki, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Robinson Crusoe

In our family (that could scarcely be likened to The Swiss Family Robinson, a sort of encyclopaedia of nostrums and outlandish species by a pious pedagogue in the Montessori mould) the apportioning of Daniel Defoe’s opus took the following form: the children were given the book to read about Robinson Crusoe stranded on an unknown island (ooh!), while the adults indulged themselves in the adventures of an another eponymous Defoe character, one Moll Flanders, a real moll (ooooh!!!). Versatile genius.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Tony De Meur (tonydemeur blueyonder.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Robinson Crusoe

Man Friday, verb tr.: to subjugate and patronise people of colour.

Tony De Meur, London, UK

From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: Hamlet’s advice to players (Re: out-Herod)

Before the players perform at Elsinore, Hamlet warns them of the perils of overacting. His advice is still sound for any aspiring thespian. We shouldn’t forget that Shakespeare was not only a playwright but also an actor. He knew all facets of the dramatic process, even the business side: he owned part of the Globe Theatre. Says Hamlet to the players:

O it offends me to the soul, to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings... it out-Herods Herod.
Hamlet, Act III, Scene ii (video)

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by One Up! -- A can of perfect summer funshine.

From: Darren Nash (dnash peeknservices.com.au)
Subject: Bradbury

In our land Downunder, a common term used is to do a Bradbury or “to pull a Bradbury” with the meaning being that someone has come from last to first due to the efforts (or lack) of others.

Coined after Steven Bradbury’s gold medal performance at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, it is not used as an insult, more so as a humorous acknowledgment of a gain won by default. (video, 3 min.)

Darren Nash, Heathcote, Australia

From: Mary Ann Kull (makull2 icloud.com)
Subject: Movies to Verbs

My husband created a verb based on the 1994 movie Shawshank Redemption, where the main character, Andy Dufresne, uses a letter-writing campaign to improve the prison library. Using the same technique to get the attention of health insurance providers, he termed it “Shawshanking”. However, Andy’s efforts were more successful than my husband’s. But that’s fiction for you.

Mary Ann Kull, East Aurora, New York

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Mithridatize and Robinson Crusoe

Socrates was dispatched from this mortal coil by giving him a brew of hemlock. My referencing the “Socratic method” in my frog’s aside is a play on his pedagogic dynamic of back-and-forth inquiry and dialogue which he devised and championed. But in this cartoon scenario, the “Socratic method” is referring to his mithridatory regimen... clearly gone awry.

I dare say, author Daniel Defoe could well have spun in his grave if he’d witnessed my alternative take on his beloved character’s dire predicament. In my stranded Crusoe cartoon, pretty much every day would be “casual Friday”, for him and his chatty parrot companion.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

The text in each box is an anagram of the text in the other box.
1. grimthorpe
2. mithridatize
3. penelopize
4. Robinson Crusoe
5. out-Herod
= 1. poor rebuilder
2. immunize
3. postpone
4. to ditch on high sea
5. terrorize
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: limericks

Cried the wannabe architect, “Crime?
Your spirally old Guggenheim
wasn’t straight. It was warped,
so I simply grimthorped
it a bit!” (Now the guy’s doing time.)
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Donald fancies himself a Jim Thorpe,
Though he lives in a dated time warp.
This inept Head of State
Makes us all quite irate,
As he maddeningly tries to grimthorpe.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

An architect who was quite grim
Had a verb that was named after him.
St. Albans he’d warp,
That Baron Grimthorpe.
Said he, “I did it on a whim.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“The facts here at Fox we will grimthorpe,”
Said Murdoch, the Chairman of News Corp.
“Come join the insanity,
Follow Sean Hannity.
Here, have a torch and a pitchfork.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Mithridatized I have become
By exposure to Donald the dumb.
Because I abhor him
I try to ignore him,
But, instead, I’m immunized and numb.
-Judith S. Fox, Teaneck, New Jersey (Jsfoxrk aol.com)

Her lover she romanticized
and fell hard with soupirs and sighs!
To assuage her deep woe
when tomcatting he’d go,
his deceits she’d soon mithridatize.
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

The two sisters were a disgrace.
Just see “Arsenic and Old Lace”.
It would have been wise
To mithridatize
Anyone visiting their place.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (loscamil aol.com)

Minorities, poor people, gay guys;
With Trump, many live under grey skies.
We can’t yet get rid
Of that orange-haired lid
But to tweets we can all mithridatize.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It’s easy to tell yourself lies
To avoid facing truths you despise.
But it’s courage you need.
If you want to be freed
From the habit you have to penelopize.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpower wowway.com)

They all did their best to recruit her,
But none of the suitors would suit her.
To avoid compromise,
She’d penelopize,
‘Cause she thought Ulysses was cuter.
-Phyllis Morrow, Fairbanks, Alaska (pmorrow alaska.edu)

Penelopize no more, my son,
Your years under our roof are done.
But, mom, please not yet.
I’ve still student debt,
And my pension’s too scanty for fun.
-Anna C. Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

As appointments like Gorsuch metastasize,
With liberal ancients I empathize.
Says Ginsburg to Breyer,
“We mustn’t retire.
Till Trump is impeached, let’s penelopize.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

If someone would Robinson Crusoe
him, his power he couldn’t abuse so.
No more chance to do harm;
no more cause for alarm.
Gee, if I had the chance I would do so!
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

If I could Robinson Crusoe,
And to a remote island go,
It’d be fun for a week,
After that, I would seek
To get back to the status quo.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

If Robinson Crusoed I’d bawl.
I’m not self-reliant at all.
I travel first class,
Give camping a pass --
So the Coast Guard I’d have to call.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

After years as a Robinson Crusoe,
The widow acquired a new beau.
“But marriage was boring,”
She said, “Now I’m soaring.
It’s boy toys for me, screw the trousseau!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It’s a truth that’s come down through the ages
that the victor writes history’s pages.
Though he’d out-Herod Herod,
his crimes are all buried,
or so say the scholars and sages.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

She learned from her father, a preacher,
ideas he’d not meant to teach ‘er:
“My daddy out-Herods
your dad; aren’t you scare-ed?”
(She ran before daddy could reach ‘er.)
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

As the glacial ice comes menacingly closer,
Humanity seems to be the primary loser.
With carbon’s footprints
obliterating the greens and the tints,
The third world out-heroding the first is no longer kosher.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Plainville, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“I was born with the face of a cherub,”
Said young Donald, “And Dad I’ll out-Herod.”
My brain’s off the chart.
Just to show you how smart,
I’m so brilliant my wealth I’ll inherit.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Epunymous verbs

Imagine how grimthorpe was after being stripped of his Olympic medals.

“Hey, mithridatize on dis rack are ugly. Where’s da nice ones at?”

The chocolate and penelopize at Pictor’s cafe are pery delicious.

They were shipwrecked, so what made the Swiss Family Robinson Crusoe upbeat?

I thought I’d win “Most Harried” but someone out-Herod me.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Beverly Stephenson (bevslol gmail.com)
Subject: gift subscriptions

Back in February, I was looking at some words trying to sort of “catch up” and realized I had other friends who loved words whom I had never sent your free subscription to and decided to send to everyone I could think of who’d probably enjoy getting it. Several who got the subscription wrote saying they appreciated getting A.Word.A.Day.

Beverly Stephenson, Apple Valley, Minnesota

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth -- whether about the President or about anyone else. -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US president (1858-1919)

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