Word of the Day: alembic

I’ve missed you all, and I’ve been working on a bunch of things to surprise and delight you. At least, I hope so.

To this end, I’m going to be making the Word of the Day more of a Word of the Week, published on Tuesdays.  I’m sorta attached to calling it the Word of the Day, though. If you disagree, well, I’d love to hear from you.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The ratings for several aging reality shows have been declining steadily over the years, leading producers to think about ways to rejuvinate these series. Series centered on large families have been especially hard hit, and some of the normal twists used on other series have now been employed for these home-life based shows.

One technique imported to the world of multiple multiples, was eliminating some of the “cast.” In this case, if a child or other family member (such as a family pet) is not pulling his, her, or its ratings weight, the ratings bomb will be eliminated from the household, and forced to live in the basement, away from all the cameras.

Some thought it was excessively cruel to put the family members up for a popular vote, as the “less attractive” and “more introverted” members were usually the first to be sent “to the basement.”

This tactic led to several unintended consequences, as some of the family members started to do every thing they could to be eliminated so they could get off the show. After getting to “4 kids and counting,” from 19, the Duggar family was suddenly not nearly as interesting, and were “practically normal,” and therefore, boring. This disaster led to the decision to release those that had been banished to the basement.

Another idea borrowed to boost ratings was having judges critique the parenting skills displayed, and evaluate which of the poor parenting techniques will eventually cost the children the most in psychologist fees.

In a crossover extravaganza, the Duggar family and the Gosselins went on a road trip to the Roloff farm in Oregon, where they all spent three weeks living off the land as though it were the 1800s. The families had to capture their own food, cook it on wood stoves, use out houses, and protect their simple shelters and livestock from horse thieves and other criminals.

Roloff patriarch Matt planned to spend most of his three weeks trying to add a pirate ship to the little temporary settlement, and to build an alembic, thereby making it possible to make alcohol out of pine trees, for “medicinal purposes.”

The idea caused the group to splinter into groups over the “booze issue,” and has led to a ratings bonanza.


I wrote this months ago, before the Duggars announced baby #20, and before the Roloffs had retired from their life in front of the camera. Still, I think this works.

alembic / ah – LEM – bik / an apparatus used in distillation 2. something that refines or transmutes as if by distillation.


  1. If I remember correctly, one of the issues that the people on the reality show that had them returning to the 1880’s was that one of the guys wanted to make a still and the rest of the “town” was against it.

  2. Really? Wow! I thought I’d made it up. People are always people, I guess.