Word of the Day: ataxy

I had half-written the story for tonight, *last* night, before I went to bed, only to find that was mostly a dream, and not actually typed. So, here’s a very strange story, inspired by a very strange word.

Today’s word:


As in:

The poor, confused, linguistically challenged Howard, was desperately trying to understand why the nurses continued to torture his roommate. He could not understand how they could justify giving the poor man false hopes of ever leaving the “Happy Home Asylum for the Extremely Confused.” Everyone knew that if there was ever a patient that would never leave the confines of “Happy Home” it was Mr. Schmertz.

Mr. Schmertz was the most feared resident of “Happy;” all the others knew of his penchant for tripping, punching and kicking the residents. He had an unfortunate habit of standing in front of the restroom to bar entrance to those all-important facilities. His preferred tactic was to stand at the doorway, and begin to engage the needy visitor in an egregiously inane conversation.

As the victim’s need escalated in immediacy, the insufferable Mr. Schmertz would patiently block the entrance, holding the unfortunate soul within tantalizing reach of his/her necessary and urgent destination. If the person showed any signs of boredom or made any motion towards the inviting door, Mr. Schmertz would simply beat them senseless. Those who could manage the ordeal without the smallest sign of boredom or inference to the urgency of their need, would be permitted to enter the facility by the grim warden.

Such a man could never be allowed to leave the home, Howard was sure.

Of course, Howard’s confusion about the nurses’ discussion of Mr. Schmertz’s activities stemmed from his lingual deficiencies, and from overhearing one of the nurses say that Mr. Schmertz’s activities were worthy of a taxi. Poor Howard had unfortunately not known that what the nurses had really said was “Mr. Schmertz’s activities were ataxy.”


For some things in life, there are no words.  And yet, there is this one.

ataxy: / a TAXI / n. Disturbance of bodily functions, especially that of motion.

Word of the Day: desuperpollicate

About 30 minutes ago I had an idea for tonight’s story, but, couldn’t quite get it written up. So, I’m saving it for next week, and reaching way back into the re-run well for this gem, which came to me in a dream, just over a decade ago.

Today’s Word:


As in:

It was December 19th, 2001. The friends had bought the tickets weeks before, and had waited in line for hours with strangers sharing a common passion. These strangers shortly became friends, unified by their wait, and the depth of their admiration.

Their conversations were filled with anxiety. A few couldn’t wait to see the much-anticipated Moria scene. Several were concerned that the movie would severely misinterpret and modify the narrative, and were present despite severe protestations that they didn’t want to see “sacrilege in action,” much less give money to the “untalented, greedy and misguided executors of Tolkien’s estate.” Others simply talked about the books, describing their favorite parts, debating the literary merit of the trilogy, discussing the reasons for the stories’ success, and impressing strangers with their vast recollection of the details of all of Tolkien’s works and mastery of each language of Middle Earth. A few talked about the rumors circulating the Internet that, in order to be more politically correct, Ringwraiths were going to be referred to as “Riders of
Color,” and that the character of Arwen would not only be given dialog, but that there would be kissing.

The crowd continued to be absorbed in these activities. Soon, the usher came, and led the group towards the theater. The patrons hardly noticed.

Seats were filled, and conversations continued, while the trailers zoomed past. The title flashed on the screen, and a shout from somewhere in the theater was heard. But, the conversations did not cease, and the audience didn’t even look at the screen, oblivious to the fact that the object of so much anticipation was unfolding before their eyes.

And so passed three hours. The credits played, and soon, the house lights came up.

The crowd, shocked by the sudden change in the room, was jolted out of the intensity of their conversations. The ushers were indicating that they should exit, but, the crowd was irate. They had come to see the movie, and none would leave until it had been seen. The manager came out to tell them the movie was over, and they should leave. The fans, unwilling to be convinced that the movie had played without their knowledge, became angry, and demanded a screening, but in vain.

Eventually, in exhaustion, the crowd dispersed and proceeded to the box office to buy new tickets.

In the confusion of missing the film, several were inclined to leave the theater in frustration and disdain. The situation forced the frustrated to desuperpollicate the whole experience, and to tell others to avoid the movie at all costs.

By the way, in the dream, I was a member of the audience. Does it make this story more interesting to know that it was as a member of the audience that I
turned to my companions to tell them this would make a good Word of
the Day story?

desuperpollicate / DE – sewp – er – POLL – eh – kate / to give a ‘thumbs down’

Word of the Day: hermeneutical

I’ve had quite a week since last I wrote. I have done submissions for two different contests (the Zazzle thing, which required a video) and one that was due today, and for which I needed two new columns.   I’d forgotten the deadline was today, and since I’d not written anything for it yet, I had to  scurry to finish it. I got it in five minutes before the deadline.

I am back home tonight after being in Colorado Springs for the day, so, in all of this, I’ve gotten home, and am exhausted, and, am, I regret to say, again dipping into the Oscar story well.

This one is from 2005, in which three of the five nominated movies were biopics. Because of this, I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if the famous subjects of the movies met some highly unusual characters. You know, like if Charo met Cervantes. Or, as in today’s story, if Michael Jackson had met J.M. Barrie in “Finding Neverland.” So, without further preamble, it is finally time for…

Today’s Word:


As in:

The year is 1903, and J.M. Barrie is sitting alone in Kensington Gardens, writing in a journal. A strange creature, holding an umbrella, wearing unnecessarily elaborate clothing, and walking as if made of crystal, slowly eases its form onto the bench next to the playwright. The face of the figure has dark, shiny, mirrored spectacle-like lenses in front of its eyes, and two slits for nostrils where its nose ought to be, and a lipless line surrounding a slightly open maw.

The creature has stringy black-colored material, in some ways resembling hair, on the top of its head. A surgical-type mask hangs from the creature’s neck, and white gloves cover its hands.

The creature sits stiffly, with its limbs held closely its body, staring straight ahead, and seems to be nervously trying to pretend the other occupant of the bench is not there. The creature’s eyes dart between the journaling playwright, and straight out into the park, as if their very movement toward the opposite end of the bench might arouse the interest of the creature’s bench mate.

At this moment, a young boy runs directly up to Mr. Barrie. He’s very excited, and asks if he brought with him some more pixie dust, since he wanted to bring his mother to Neverland with them straight away. Mr. Barrie reaches into his pocket, and holds his cupped hand in front of the boy. He tells him to take a small pinch of the unseen dust out of his hand, and take it to his mother immediately.

Carefully, the boy pinches the air above the man’s hand, and with his fingers tightly held together, thanks the man, and walks slowly and with great focus, back the way he came.

At this moment, Mr. Barrie notices the strange creature on the bench next to him. He asks if he is fond of small boys. The creature, in a high-pitched voice, answers “Why, yes. I do. It’s such a pity they all must grow up.” Barrie answers him, “It is indeed. But, in Neverland, boys never have to grow up.”
Then, the creature emitted a noise, which the curious Barrie interpreted as a girlish giggle.

“I want to live in Neverland,” said the creature. “And, invite young boys to share my bed.”

At this, Barrie leaps to his feet, and tells the creature that sort of thing could never happen in Neverland, and such behavior is unacceptable for grown people, much less strange creatures such as whatever sort of freak had just spoken.

The creature looked hurt, and distraught at the playwright’s
words. “I’d never hurt a child. I love them, and I just wish to be close to them and care for them.”

These last words send Barrie to a rage. “Sir or Madam, or whatever manner of creature you are: no matter what hermeneutical lenses you have viewed that sort of behavior through, it is still wildly inappropriate, and I, for one, will not tolerate it, and shall report any such inclination to the authorities!”

* * * * * * * * * * *
I’ve always really liked this story because I felt I’d managed to describe the strangeness of Michael Jackson really well, as seen by someone who lived 150 years ago. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but, maybe not.

hermeneutical: / HERR – men – u – tick – all / interpretive

Word of the Day: innubilious

As my faithful readers know, there is a fine Word of the Day tradition of honoring each of the Oscar nominees with a special story, leading up to the big day. That was before the Academy, in its infinite wisdom, moved the date of the telecast up, and also they started nominating up to 10 films. So, it’s been hard to keep up.

Tonight, I am trying to get a bunch of other stuff done, so, I am dipping into the re-run well, and in honor of that tradition, I’ve chosen one of the Oscar stories from 2004.

That year, I decided to unify all the stories by putting them to sea, because the  Academy was on a string of  consistently nominating a Russell Crowe vehicle, no matter what that might be. In 2004, the vehicle was a ship. So, to  take that further, I presented the nominated films as if they’d all have taken place on the deep blue sea. Yes, my brain is a strange and scary place.

This was the story for the movie “Lost in Translation.” If you’ve not seen it, it’s about an American actor, played by Bill Murray, who goes to Japan to do some commercials, and in the middle of the culture shock of being a foreigner in a strange land where he doesn’t speak the language, he finds another American, and they share their confusion together.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Bob Harris sat on a deck chair on the Pacific Princess, waiting for the director to call “action.” He never expected he’d be called to make a series of commercials for a cruise line. The director had a brilliant idea that filming the commercials during an actual real cruise, so there was a constant audience. Worse, the director kept wanting him to make his performance more energetic, more “Kathy Lee.” Except, when he said it, it sounded like “Kathy Ree.”

And all the people on the ship were insane. Nice enough, but completely loony. The Captain is convinced that the ship is a warship in the middle of the second World War, and that the people aboard are trained naval personnel. It wouldn’t be so bad, except everyone was expected to show up for morning review, and participate in firing drills. Firing Drills. On a ship with no guns. There’s the chronically perky Julie, who runs around the ship forcing people to join other shipmates in organized activities, never taking “no” for an answer. The ship’s doctor not only had an aggressively bad case of hypochondria, but was convinced everyone on the ship was carrying Ebola, Anthrax, or SARs.

Fortunately, Bob met Charlotte. Being the only sane people on the ship, they were relieved to have found each other. When Bob had no commitments, the two of them would wander the ship, hiding from Julie, enjoying the innubilious weather, and connecting with each other over mutual sanity.

While I will admit that this movie depends absolutely on the subtle nuances in the performances of Johannson and Murray, I was highly disappointed that this picture won best original screenplay. But, I don’t get to vote.

Sad, really, that the intro is longer than the story.

innubilious: / INN – oo – BILL – us / cloudless

Word of the Day: revanche

Sadly, February 2 was not a Tuesday. But, this story, while inspired by the strange customs of that Candlemas Day, can be told at anytime.

The harder part is that I’m battling some fatigue today, and fighting the urge to give up and just go to bed, but I’m pushing through. Who needs sleep, right?

One other note, about last week’s word, I have learned from one of my readers that, in ballet, contretemps means “counter-beat,” which in ballet, contretemps means “counter-beat”.

Today’s word:


As in:

Scandal has erupted in the increasingly political world of big money groundhog gurus.

Representatives of Sir Thomas Hastings, the prognosticating marmot of Hastings, Nebraska, have started an investigation into allegations that the most well known among their rarefied rodent celebrities, Punxsutawney Phil, has been selling his “prediction” to the highest bidder.

Sir Thomas’ handlers alledge that Phil is in the pocket of the winter sports concerns, who depend on extended winter seasons for their livliehood.

“It seems fishy that Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter 87% of the time. Since 1889, Phil has had a long record of siding with all those people who want winter to last as long as possible. He’s only right 39% of the time! That’s worse than most meteorologists.” said Julie Merkle, spokesperson for Sir Thomas.

“Take this year, for instance. Of the more than two dozen woodchuck seers, two-thirds of them said spring was coming. But Phil? Nope. He’s one of the minority with the opinion that it will be a longer winter,” Merkle notes.

Handlers for Staten Island Chuck, who like Sir Thomas, Patty Pagoda, Buckeye Chuck, and General Beauregard Lee all reported that we’re looking for an early spring, have been looking for a way to engage in a bit of revanche ever since Phil got a big head when he became “top hog” simply because he sold out to Hollywood.

Phil’s handlers, outraged at these accusations, have denied that they are selling Phil’s predictive powers. In their own statement, issued yesterday, they call this move “a petty attempt to cash in on Phil’s well-deserved fame,” and hint that their motives are “purely derived from spite and jealousy.” While the town of Punxsutawney has profited greatly from the publicity generated by their town’s favorite rodent, they insist that it is their tradition’s longevity that puts them into the spotlight, not that “delightful movie starring Bill Murray.”

I think the fame and money has gone to Phil’s head. It used to be about the weather, but, he’s a changed ‘chuck.

revanche / re VAHNSH / revenge; especially a political policy designed to recover lost territory or status

Word of the Day: contretemps

I am out of fractured nursery rhymes for now. Yes, you can stop cheering.

I am, instead, returning to an archetype strangely near and dear to my heart. I don’t exactly know why it is frequently on my mind, but, that’s the weirdness of my brain.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Zombie Apocalypse, Day 18

It’s strange to be talking about the reality of a world overrun by the undead. I had thought that if something so unthinkable as a plague of walking dead happened, I’d be prepared. I’ve studied all the great “texts” of survival, I knew that to kill them you had to destroy their brains. I knew these things.

What a joke.

I want my money back, Mr. Romero, because you lied to me.

Not that money matters any more.

Who came up with the notion that smashing in the undead’s noggin would actually have any effect anyway? For crying out loud, the thing’s dead and walking for some bizarre reason. It’s not thinking. It’s just moving. And the brain space has nothing to do with that. It’s messed up. Completely ridiculous.

Everyone knows that’s how you dispatch a zombie, until, of course, they are faced with a real zombie and that crap didn’t do a thing. Not one thing. Nope. We lost ten people to headless corpses in the first five hours of the outbreak, because they just kept coming. We were so unprepared!

After it was clear that complete ruination of the head had absolutely no effect, we tried other things. We tried all the vulnerable spots that occurred to us. We tried hitting them in the knee caps. That just made them crawl towards us with their arms. We tried, well, the other obvious soft spots. Nothing worked.

They just kept crawling. We learned that if they scratched a normal person with their hands, their filthy, blood encrusted bodies carried enough of the virus to ensure transmission. No bite necessary.

In the end, we finally removed all the limbs. They still had motion of a sort, but they couldn’t do much more than roll around, so that’s the point when they are rendered harmless. Their writhing torsos look ridiculous, but, the disembodied limbs no longer move, so finger and toe nails are no longer a threat.

If you don’t mind my French, it’s clear that the absurdity of our efforts to combat these monsters is a major contretemps.

No one has yet come up with a plan to deal with the torsos.


This one came from catching a few minutes of this ridiculous show this weekend which was named something like “The Zombie Legend”, which seemed like it was going to be a serious, in-depth study of the origins of the zombie archetype through history and culture and such. Yeah, no.  They had interviews with a bunch of people who are preparing survival plans for a zombie apocalypse, and they I thought, yeah, but, what if the zombies are *nothing* like you think? I mean, really. Anyway, that’s where this came from.

contretemps / CON – tra – tam / an inopportune or embarrassing occurrence or situation


Word of the Day: dioristic

This story is another of the fractured nursery rhymes. It’s about 30 times longer than the original nursery rhyme, which probably means I’ve really thought too long about it.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Like many people in the world of entertainment, Jack B. Nimble has had to change his act to keep people coming.

He just never imagined the changes would be so significant.

“People just aren’t impressed by one guy jumping over a candle stick any more. It’s too tame. I made the candlestick 15 feet high, but, it usually blew out when I did it. There’s no drama in a guy jumping 15 feet over a stick. Then I tried a bunch of candles, spread on the ground over three feet, and jumped over that, but, the novelty of that wore out pretty fast. Now, I’m going to try jumping over bonfires, and see where that takes me.”

Nimble, his face lined with the stress of trying to eck out a living in the world of daredevils, feels the pressure of an increasingly demanding audience. When he started, his dioristic routine was top of its class. Now, that routine is, at best, seen as “quaint,” and at worst, “stupidly boring.”

“Audiences are jaded. Anyone can jump over a candlestick. Now they want to see death defying thrills and, if you can manage it, a really spectacular accident. It keeps me up at nights trying to plan these things, and I worry more about having a crowd appreciate the stunt than I worry about the injuries. I got kids to feed.”

I’ve always thought that “jumping over a candlestick” was a ridiculous stunt. Why do you have to be all that nimble or quick to jump over a candlestick? Is this some weird medieval thing that has some other meaning that I don’t know because I’m literate or born 500 years too late for this to make sense? Anyone know?

dioristic / DIE – or – IS – tic / Distinguishing; distinctive; defining

Word of the Day: deglutition

Today’s tale is another in the series of “fractured nursery rhymes.” This one is dedicated to my friend, and historical food cookery aficionado, Sheila.

Today’s Word:


As in:

A Middle Ages-themed restuarant, “Pease Porridge” has been closed by the health inspector, after tests revealed that the contents of the pot were, in fact, nine days old.

The restuarant, which was billed as serving authentic recipes from 16th century Europe, opened seven months ago to mixed reviews. Several critics complimented the venue’s authenticity, and even appreciated a number of the dishes as “unique and surprisingly tasty.” A few noted that the food was “decidedly odd,” and specifically mentioned that the signature dish, “pease porridge,” a typical peasant dish, was “largly unappetizing, especially served cold. It did not inspire thoughts of deglutition.”

The dish, available in both hot and cold preparations, was praised by some patrons, but others found it barely palatable. Some complained it had little flavor, and others claimed it was too salty.

The restuarant’s owner, Margaret West, explained that their dedication to authenticity was the culprit in this diversity of experiences. “Like those peasants whose diet depended upon this inexpense preparation of veggetables stewed in a single pot over the only source of heat in their small dwellings, we started with peas and bacon, and then added to it over each day. We put in the things we had leftover from other menu items.”

This set off red flags for Jeffrey Lopez, a health inspector and fan of historical recipes. “I went to the restuarant hoping that they were not cooking things to warm, and then leaving them over a hearth (whether literal or figurative) over night to then serve the concoction cold. I had hoped they were using refrigeration for the food when it was not heated to temperature. Food kept out overnight is a dangerous proposition, and is a perfectly suited environment for bacteria to grow.”

West commented on this idea as being “… a bit paranoid.” She went on to state that people today are just a bit too obsessed with food safety, and it would do them good to build their immune systems and stop worrying so much about bacteria. She notes that our ancestors wouldn’t have discovered cheese if they’d had our predjudices about food storage, and indicates that “they survived. Well, most of them. They might even expect to live to the ripe old age of 40!”

This was funnier in my head.

Also, tomorrow, the largest internet protest ever will be taking place to protest SOPA and PIPA. These are *REAL* bills, about to PASS, and not Kate Middleton’s siblings. While I’m not a fan of piracy, these bills will not put a dent in stopping *actual* piracy, and could really hurt businesses that depend on the internet.

deglutition / DEE – glue – ti – shun / the act or process of swallowing


Word of the Day: gynotikolobomassophile

I’ve gotten behind again, which is my own fault. This means that I’m going to use this old story, which is on the short side.  The word is almost longer than the story.

Today’s Word:


As in:

This is the story of Orring, the little gynotikolobomassophile who lived hislife happily moving from one face to another. Orring was one of the most fortunate of souls: He got to live his passion. Dangling above a shoulder, Orring could enjoy countless hours, securly positioned in the object of his affection. Never had there been a gynotikolobomassophile with such luck! For you see, Orring was in the most enviable of existences for a gynotikolobomassophile, he was a lovely earing of solid gold.

gynotikolobomassophile: /GYN-o-tiko-lobo-masso-PHILE/ Someone who likes to nibble on a woman’s earlobe. Again, yet more proof that there is indeed a word in the English language for everything.

Word of the Day: indurate

It was very difficult to return to work today. It feels like I stepped into the ring and took a serious beating. It was really hard to get out of bed this morning, and if the traffic had been at normal levels, well, I’d not have gotten coffee this morning.

This is another in the series of stories based upon nursery rhymes.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The continuing economic downturn has forced some families to some unusual means to try and earn a living. Maybe “unusual” is just the way it is with our next guest.

I’m talking today with Rosemary Shue, a long time resident of Stonybrook, who has been called unusual for two things: her house, which is built in the shape of a shoe, and her large family. Rosemary is the mother of 15 kids. Recently, when her husband lost his job, she was forced to take drastic measure to earn a living for herself and her kids. In this case, she decided to turn her house into a tourist destination. That’s right, the “Shoe” is open for business.

While the non-standard house is still the family’s residence, during the day, the indurate family will be giving tours of the place. You can now finally see what’s inside this local landmark. It’ll cost you $5 for the privilege. For that price, you’ll get a full hour tour of the place, from “heel to toe,” as it were.

The Shoe will also be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in its spacious gardens and enclosed patio. The food will be prepared by Mrs. Shue herself, and will include some of the produce her family grows on the property, plus locally sourced meat and dairy.

When she’s not serving meals or giving tours, Mrs. Shue will give classes in various ways to stretch your budget. She’s learned them all while raising 15 kids! She’s charging $20 per person, per class, and they range in topics from canning and freezing, to making your own furniture, handmade holiday décor, and tasty recipes that can be made for pennies.

Like many other destination restaurants, the Shoe has added on a gift shop, which is, naturally the last stop on the tour. You can buy some of Mrs. Shue’s prizewinning preserves, and bring home a t-shirt or mug with a picture of the iconic family home, built centuries ago.

You can even take home a picture of yourself at the home. For $5, you can have your photo taken either in front of the home, or waving from the top of the high-ankle. It’s sure to be a prized memory in any scrapbook.

I’m not sure if I’d *buy* a photo, but, a tour of a shoe house would be interesting.

indurate / IN – dur – ATE / physically or morally hardened