Words amuse me. After visiting Ireland I find that I’m even more interested in colloquialisms and regional sayings. Learning just a smidgen of Irish Gaelic had me scrambling to find this old piece from the early days of my blog. Fittingly, I couldn’t remember what I’d called it. Go figure.
I’ve never used the word “calumny.” To be honest I wasn’t sure what it meant. Thank goodness for Google!
Calumny, she said to me, ended my career. I’d arisen from nothing, no pedigree, no expertise,
With tears in my eyes I begged her to explain her downfall. Did calumny cause you
Pain? I asked. Was it akin to a canker sore or a bunion? She laughed ruefully. No, it was much worse.
You see I’d trusted someone and they smeared my name. Made me the fool of their wicked game.
And just like that, my reputation was beyond repair. I didn’t laugh, but still perplexed. Calumny
Isn’t a physical malady? It sounds like a blow to the gut. Again, she smiled. Close, but no cigar.
Roaring down highways
Chastising Girl Scouts
‘Round every corner
Evil doers lurk
Hiding their enmity
‘Neath smarmy smirks.
How do they sleep nights?
Minds filled with bile
Greed over principle
Seduction using guile.
In this topsy turvy world
Where hatred disguised as good
Seeks dominion o’er the masses
Words of power are my shield.
I had nothing to say today
So I’m not going to say it.
Of course if I’m being honest
I’ve already said something.
Dadgum it’s hard for me,
This wordless disposition.
I’m sure it’s a temporary
State of my current condition.
I was listening to NPR’s TED talks series on Sunday. The main story that morning was about a man who decided to stop talking for one day. That one day turned into twelve years. I couldn’t imagine going without speaking for ten minutes unless I was sleeping. But twelve years?
When I commented on this to Studly Doright he smiled politely and said, “I’d sure like to see you try.”
I’m not sure how I should take that.
My vocabulary was enriched this week by the addition of the word, “anagoggle.”
Saint Helen and I were exploring the little community of Colquitt, Georgia, and had walked quite a distance from my car. When we realized we were both fairly tired of walking in the heat we decided to begin angling our way back to our starting point.
“We’ll just have to anagoggle our way back to the car,” Saint Helen said.
“Huh?” I replied in my most articulate manner.
“You know,” she said, demonstrating a zig zag pattern with her hands. “Anagoggle. You’ve never heard of that?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
“Must be a New Mexico thing,” said Saint Helen.
By that time we’d anagoggled over to the car and I’d conjugated the verb successfully: I anagoggled yesterday, we went anagogglin, we can anagoggle.
at all the
were born into
a lower caste.
nets wide upon
in cast iron.
cast lots in
Don’t mind me.
I’m gingerly negotiating
this space fraught with
ideas, absurdities, and
I’m of a mind to
chuck it all and navigate
someone else’s field for
at least a little while,
and see what may be gleaned.
Speak your mind
before someone else does
the speaking for you. Don’t
worry about the shrapnel;
it only hurts when they laugh.
This is mostly illusion
anyway, although most
of the pitfalls are real
and possibly explosive.
Mind your manners;
they will come in handy
when you have to deal
with the after effects
and resulting injuries.
Keep an open mind
and don’t judge others
whose fields might not
be as fertile as yours.
Boom! One step too far.
Have you ever looked at an ordinary word for so long that it just doesn’t seem right anymore? That happened to me yesterday afternoon as I was looking for an over-the-counter medicine to calm my incessant sneezing, itchy throat, and watery eyes.
The more I looked at the word the stranger it appeared. Was it ALL ERGY? Or perhaps AL LERGY?
When a helpful clerk at CVS asked if I needed assistance I mumbled something along the lines of, “Yes. Yes, I do.”
Good evening and welcome to Inside the Director’s Studio. I am your host, James Lipton Onion Soup Mix. (Polite applause)
My guest this evening is the esteemed director, Alfred Finchcock. (Applause)
James: Mr. Finchcock, welcome to our program. We are honored by your presence.
Alfred: As you should be. (Laughter)
J: Tonight we want to focus on one of your most controversial films to date, specifically, “The Words.”
For those who have not yet had the opportunity to attend a screening of this groundbreaking work would you provide a brief summary of the plot?
A: I would be happy to oblige; although, I find it most difficult to believe that any within the range of my voice have not yet viewed this masterpiece. (Polite laughter)
In this story we find a worldly woman…
J: Played by the lovely Tipsy Headroom.
A: …who purchases a pair of weighty tomes, specifically Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus, as gifts for the sister of a handsome man she encounters in a San Francisco book store.
J: You cast Prod Trailer in the role of Mitch. Interesting choice.
A: Quite. I considered his dark good looks the perfect counterpoint to Miss Headroom’s blonde Melanie. Dark, light. Male/female. Tall/less tall.
J: So far, we have an endearing story about a pretty woman buying a nice gift for a little girl. Your genius is in turning the innocent into infamy.
A: When Melanie, an unmarried woman of a certain age delivers the books to Mitch’s island home the tension begins to build.
J: The special effects are so subtle, so subliminal in the beginning. For example, the word, “exacerbate” slips by in the water as Melanie rows herself and the books to Mitch’s home.
A: I am singularly surprised that you caught that. But, you are correct. It was my intention to slowly build word upon word until the audience was gasping at each verbal assault.
J: Please continue.
A: Melanie’s gift is well-received by Mitch’s sister, a budding young author entranced by words. And Melanie is urged to stay over for the weekend.
J: Perhaps this is what triggers the chaos?
A: I was not overly concerned by causation; however, the audience might very well construe the surge of suppressed hormonal urges as the basis for the initial attacks.
J: And, attacks are forthcoming.
A: Indeed. The evening of Melanie’s arrival a loud bump is heard outside the home. Upon investigation the word, “melancholia” is found lying broken in a puddle beside the porch.
In each successive scene the number and intensity of the attacks increase until there are too many to be discounted.
J: Mr. Finchcock, critics have said that your subject was too broad. That perhaps you should have focused on verbs or nouns or adjectives.
A: James, if one observed carefully one would note that I arranged each attack around a specific part of speech.
J: Please elaborate.
A: In the phone booth, Melanie was attacked by a host of nouns: “Umbrage!” “Castration!” “Misogyny!”
When the children in the schoolyard came under siege it was by adjectives: “Allegorical!” “Voluptuous!” “Incendiary!”
J: Oh, and the attack on the birthday! Those could all be verbs! “Manipulate, castigate, endeavor!”
My God! You pulled it all together!
A: Quite so. The climactic scene is one in which our heroine is rendered catatonic by battling a frenetic flock of adverbs. “Forcefully!” “Fanatically!” “Morbidly!” “Moribundly!”
But the denouement…
J: Leaves us with verbiage of all kinds, waiting in silence for…
A: Who knows? The trigger could be an exhalation or an obfuscation.
J: And that, sir, is why we worship your art.
A: As you should.
J: One more question before we must let you go. Tipsy Headroom, is she just another famous Finchcock blonde? Why couldn’t a brunette have played this role?
A: I do have a predilection for blondes, but in “The Words,” I intentionally wanted to dispel the stereotype of the dumb blonde. In order to have survived at all my leading lady had to have linguistic skills of the highest caliber.
J: Again, I tip my fictional fedora to you. Here’s to much success with “The Words.” Thank you again for allowing us to come Inside the Director’s Studio.
A: My pleasure. (Applause)