Word of the Day: maunder

Christmas has come and gone, and I’m feeling barely aware that it was here, and I admit that I’m feeling a touch “down,” and disappointed in myself. Don’t let it worry you, I’m sure I’ll be over it soon.

This is a strange story that was inspired by a simple sentence, that I held onto for years until I could figure out how to make it work as a story. Until now.

Today’s Word:


As in:

It’s weird, isn’t it?

I’m a normal guy. Well, mostly normal. I like sports, and beer, and gadgets. I’m living the cliche.

Granted, I don’t tend to tell people about my “work,” which is usually only normal for secret agents. Or people in my field. My field’s not exactly socially acceptable. No, I’m not a garbage man or an undertaker or anything like that. Geesh. I’m a simple honorable thief.

Yeah, I know. I should stop.

But, it’s hard to get a job in this economy. It’s not like I can list skills like “fencing goods,” “stealth” or “lighting fast appraisal” on most resumes. I have very little in the way of job history, and my references are not exactly what anyone would consider ideal. I mean, I don’t even know what “Stumpy’s” real name is, and I ain’t asking.

It’s not a terrible life. I don’t have to put up with performance reviews, or uncomfortable polyester uniforms, or TPS reports. Nope. None of that. Sure, the threat of jail is a bit loomy, but, that’s not that big a risk if you’re careful.

So, why do I maunder on a Saturday night, shuffling down an empty street, looking like the saddest sad sack that ever blew down a street?

I can’t even believe it myself. I don’t know what it is about that girl. I mean, she was pretty, that’s part of it, sure. It’s more than that, though. There’s that dimple, and the way she laughs, and all those cliches. I’d never thought I’d have been susceptable to all that stuff.

Maybe it’s more the way she was with those kids. I don’t even like kids. They’re not even her kids, it’s just a job, but, she protected them, and they trusted her. They’re good kids too. Polite. They stayed calm the whole time I was there.

Look, I didn’t know anyone was still in the house. They are rich, and were supposed to be on vacation. I didn’t expect to find the kids and the nanny playing hide and seek in a dark house, when they were SUPPOSED to be on vacation.

I didn’t even steal anything from there. I couldn’t. I lost the will to take stuff. I’ve turned into a fool. A fool who wants a different life. A life where people cared about you, and where you had regular meals, and people who looked up to you, and treated you like something other than garbage.

It’s a fantasy world, but it had given me cravings that I can not ignore. How can I continue my life of crime with this gnawing emptiness consuming my thoughts? How did I get infected with the idea that I could have a happy life? What thief suddenly has dreams of being a nanny?


I told you it was a peculiar idea.

maunder / MON – der / to wander slowly and idly 2. to speak indistinctly or disconnectedly.

Word of the Day: transpicuous

I am starting to suspect the holidays are a conspiracy to drive us insane. I’m about to surrender, just so that I can get some sleep.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Barbara Montez, 49, has an unusual profession. She is the only known “Gift Whisperer.”

Given that there is only one “Gift Whisperer” in the wide world, you might be wondering what does one do. I was curious myself, so, I asked her.

A “Gift Whisperer” is a person known for two things. First, she can detect, without opening or damaging the gift wrap in anyway, the contents of a wrapped present, with an 80% accuracy rating.

This is a very valuable skill, and people who are burning with curiosity as to the contents of the items under their tree are more than happy to pay her to have a “peek” under the wrappings without the taboo tell-tale signs of paper-tampering.

Some of her customers employ her services to assure that an item wrapped for another household member is not, in fact the same item they themselves wished to purchase for that member, saving both the giver and the recipient from the headache of a duplicate gift.

Barbara, who has always has a “sixth sense” about wrapped presents discovered her unusual knack as a child, when she would guess her own wrapped presents. When no one was around, she’d pick each one up and give it an experimental shake. “Usually, judging by the weight and the sound of the contents, I could make a pretty good guess just from that. The items spoke to me as if the wrapping was transpicuous. I mean a book is pretty obviously a book, right? Even when it’s wrapped. The next trick is to figure out which book, and for that, well, it took listening to each item and thinking about the giver, and all the factors of gift giving. Presents just seem to speak to me. I have no other way to describe it.”

Barbara’s skills don’t stop at identifying what’s inside a gift package, however.

The other service she offers is making recommendations for each person on your list. She’s very good at taking a very brief description of the personalities on your gift-list, and suggesting the perfect gift. She even offers a money back guarantee. “If your loved one doesn’t love the present I suggest, I will give you back your money. Guaranteed”

Her unique skills have even been employed the USPS during the holiday rush, to help determine if suspicious packages are, in fact, dangerous. Her accuracy rating on these types of parcels? Ninety percent. More accurate than the best bomb-sniffing dog.

Montez has been providing insight into gifts professionally since 1989.

I had this thought over a year ago, maybe two, and then failed to do anything with it until this year. Hope it was worth the wait.

transpicuous / trans – PICK – you – us / clearly seen through or understood.

Word of the Day: rescript

I’m not going to lie to you, Marge. I’ve been having a bit of the holiday blues, and also, at the same time, a bit of the “planning too much for the holiday” insanity. I’m just trying to tread water and make it through to some time off for the end of the year.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Advertising and marketing gurus the word over are always keen to jump on evolving trends for any new line of products that can be created to fill a newly identified need, or to re-position existing products in light of those needs. Sometimes this is as simple as rescripting their advertising to reflect the changes in the market.

Take for example, the growing need for gluten free foods.

People who suffer from dietary disorders like Celiac disease, or who have gluten allergies, are becoming a unique demographic for creators of food products, leading to the development of gluten free breads and pastas.

Not wanting to be left out of this market, food producers are scurring to improve the visibility of their brand with “gluten free” products. One orchard started including labels on their apples which pronounced their ongoing “gluten free” status.

Food producers are not the only ones to be caught up in the “gluten free” labeling frenzy. Several technology companies have started putting “gluten free” labeling on their microchips for use in computers and phones, and have started including it on their completed gadgets such as hand held planners.

Others now advertising their products as being wholly and completely free of gluten are car manufacturers, toy companies, and makers of untensils, cookware and dishes. Seven-up is reviving its classic message of “Never had it, never will,” and repurposing the “it” to gluten, instead of caffeine. Conveniently enough, there is also still no caffeine in the beverage.

However, there are some purists, who insist that many of these manufacturers are mistaken, saying that the origin of the word “gluten” came from the Latin, meaning “glue,” and they are looking to ban products which have any type of adhesive from using any “gluten free” advertising.

Should such efforts come to fruition, consumers are likely to face confusion as to whether “gluten” is a substance found in wheat, or whether it is glue. Could this lead to advertising constructions such as “gluten free gluten?” Would this be followed with lawsuits to determine whether such a phrase decribes a wheat product without adhesives or an adhesive product without wheat-derived gluten?


I am not entirely sure about the whole “gluten free gluten” riff that came in there at the end, but, I’ve really always wanted to say “gluten free gluten,” and have it mean something.

rescript / RE – script / an act or instance of rewriting.

Word of the Day: edacious

This is another entry in the “fractured nursery rhyme” genre. I also suspect I’ve got serial killers on my brain.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Police finally arrested a suspect in the bizarre string of murders, which left a trail of pumpkin and death all over the city. Peter Logan, 38, was arrested on evidence that he is the notorious “Pumpkin Eater,” so called for leaving bits of pumpkin with human bite marks at the numerous brutal murder scenes.

The police believe that Logan, who first came under suspicion when his wife, Dorothy, went missing a number of years ago, has been moving around the country under a number of names, and is responsible for over 40 murders in 15 different states. His missing wife is now believed to be one of his victims.

In an interview with the suspect, police questioned Logan about his wife. He told them in a fit of fury, that “he had a wife,” and that “he couldn’t keep her.” Later statements, which brought into question whether the suspect was mentally fit to stand trial, indicated that Mrs. Logan had been “put into a pumpkin shell.” The statement, given on video, was accompanied by fits of maniacal laughter. After his comment on the whereabouts of his wife, Logan again laughed, and stated that “there she kept very well.”

As the body of Mrs. Logan has not been found, no one is entirely certain what Mr. Logan meant by the statement. Some have speculated that he only said it because it rhymed with ‘shell.’ Others wondered if Logan had some mental aberration that compelled him to speak in rhyming couplets.

Despite the lack of a case against Logan for the disappearance of his wife, he stands charged with dozens of other murders, and the prosecution has strong evidence that Peter Logan is the “Pumpkin Eater.” Legal experts suspect that the recorded statements about his wife are little more than the “basis for an insanity defense,” however, they maintain their case is very strong and feel confident that Logan will not be leaving police custody any time soon.

“It’s hard to believe this is a real case and not the plot of one of those Jack Patterson novels,” noted investigator Phoebe Monroe. “Granted, if it were an Alex Cross case, the killer would be a good deal more perverted, so, I’m grateful it’s not worse than it already is.”

A few people, mostly neighbors of Logan, have indicated that they believe the man is innocent.

“They got the wrong guy,” said Janet Fuentes. “There’s no way he did all those things to those women. Once, he even babysat for my kids, and they had a great time. Do you really think I would leave my children in the care of a serial killer? Of course not. I’m an excellent judge of character. Some people might even say the kids coming home with carved pumpkins in July is proof enough, but, they weren’t even real pumpkins, just those foamy kind you get at hobby stores.”

This characterization is at odds with the edacious “Pumpkin Eater,” whose appetite for pumpkin and for violent homicide has only gotten worse.

Bail was not granted, and Logan is being held in a maximum security cell until it is determined where he will be tried.

edacious / eh – DAY – shus / having a huge appetite: ravenous 2. excessively eager: insatiable

Word of the Day: spavined

It has been a very strange day.  It ended well enough, but, it had a fair number of downs. At any rate, I am off work tomorrow, so, I’m glad about that.

Today’s Word:


As in:

A group of concerned citizens has come forward to try and force the US government to rearrange the calendar to “reschedule” what it calls “Non-Compliant Holidays.” According to the group, a “non-compliant holiday” is one which falls on a specific day, which means that it often is celebrated in the middle of the week instead of always creating, as is “proper and pleasing to God and man” a three-day weekend.

The group contents that these holidays, such as July 4, and Dec 25, should be instead “declared to take place on a revolving basis, to better comply with the wishes of a three-day weekend demanding public, like the more flexible and therefore, compliant holidays, such as Memorial Day (last Monday in May) and Labor Day (first Monday in September).”

The group is further committed to making Black Friday, (the day after Thanksgiving) a federal holiday, so that the Thanksgiving holiday is a proper four-day weekend. The group doesn’t officially declare Thanksgiving to be “non-compliant,” since it is not tied to a specific date, but, most of the members agree that the fact that it does little to contribute to the length of a weekend on its own, and forces people to return to work in the middle of a week or use their own precious leave time to create a long weekend, makes it a sore subject for the movement.

While the group has the support of many workers, many people are confused about why this issue is worth attention when much more serious issues are ignored.

“If these so-called ‘non-compliant’ holidays fall on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday, the weekend is extended already,” notes federal employee Janice Lopez. “That’s more than half the time. Sure, it’s hard to come back to work after taking a day in the middle of the week, but, it’s better than not having it at all.”

Another protester, a retired World War II veteran, nearing 90 years old, said “Our country has been celebrating on the Fourth of July for as long as I can remember. Changing it now would be against a very important tradition. I mean, what would we even call the holiday? Fireworks Night? July Fourth but celebrated on the Seventh? How stupid would that sound?”

Despite the arguments of spavined war veterans, advocates of the idea are not giving up. These supporters say that they are bringing the issue to light for all the workers who don’t have leave that they can use to make a longer weekend.

A few critics of the scheme highlight the flaw in this altruistic aspect, noting that workers who don’t have leave, often don’t have such things as paid holidays either, and any day off, no matter when it falls, is as inconvenient as any other day. Even moreso, workers in the service industries rarely have weekends off anyway, so, the concept of a three-day weekend is not a concept that means much.

Other critics highlight this as a new symptom of class-war, where those with generous paid holidays demand more form their comfortable existence, while those without just try and work enough hours to pay the bills.

Maybe we should just work hard at achieving the 4-day work week.

spavined / SPAV – ind / old and decrepit: over the hill

Word of the Day: daedal

I was saddened by the news that Anne McCaffrey died yesterday.  She was a great storyteller, and I am grateful for all the places her books took me, and all the things she did for science fiction and fantasy.  Maybe one day I can tell one story that might come close to holding a spot in someone’s life that her stories hold in mine. Rest well.

If your mood could use some brightening (mine sure could), then hopefully, this will do the trick.

Today’s Word:


As in:

A lawsuit was filed today against the Red Bull company, maker of the energy beverages of the same name, alleging significant damages by Alec Brockton, a consumer who claims that the beverage caused him to grow large wings. The plaintiff alleges that the wings are a nuisance, as no one sells clothing that fits over wings, door ways are no longer wide enough to enter, and most seating, especially at theaters and on airplanes, is no longer adequate or comfortable.

The company, despite their long-standing advertising catch-phrase “Red Bull gives you wings,” is denying any responsibility for the plaintiff’s sudden wingspan. Said company spokeswoman Penelope Jost, “Millions around the world have been drinking this beverage for decades. None of them have *actual* wings. Besides, wings would be cool. I’d like wings. Who cares if you can ride in a plane? Just fly *yourself* there.”

The plaintiff, whose very literal wings have spawned controversy within the medical and biological fields, has said, “Sure, being able to fly is nice. But, that’s not the point. The point is that I didn’t ask for these wings. I didn’t drink Red Bull to get wings, and was neither wanting nor expecting to have to plan a whole new wardrobe, or suffer the heartbreak of spontaneous molting.”

While no one is disputing the fact that Brockton now has wings, proving that they are the fault of the Red Bull company is a daunting task indeed. To build a winning case against the company will take daedal arguments of exceptional cunning, and evidence of superior quality. In short, the argument cannot be expected to be won solely on interpreting the product’s slogan literally, though, it is likely to be offered as part of the evidence against the company.


It may not be a classic tale of dragons, or ships, or telepaths, but it’s a start.

daedal / DEE – dall / skillful or artistic, intricate 2. adorned with many things.

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.

Word of the Day: vilipend

There is not much to put in the introduction to this story, since it pretty much stands on its own.  Which means I am wasting your time here. Which is not atypical of the intro even when it’s ostensibly relevant.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Inspired by the effectiveness of walk-a-thons to raise money for disease research funding, and other charitable causes, a group of concerned citizens has started a campaign to raise money for an unexpected need.

Calling themselves “Walk for The Cure,” the fans of the rock group “The Cure” have united to assist needy, has-been musicians in their time of need.

Spokesman Wendy Toikna summed it all up. “Really, it’s sad. Some groups put out a few albums and are popular for a brief time, and then, no one ever hears anything about them. Usually, they slip into poverty, alcoholism, or worse–guest spots on the late Hollywood Squares, which is not even an option any more. The situation is awful. It’s demoralizing. Our bands deserve better than this. ‘Walk for The Cure’ changes all of that. We started out to help The Cure put out their latest release–they just needed a few million dollars to entice a record company to take them on, and then, we saw how much of a need there really was. From ‘one hit wonders’ to struggling bands started by the offspring of talented, well-known singer/songwriters, we help them all.”

“And truly, we cannot vilipend these musicians. We can’t blame them for the fickle nature of American popular culture. We can’t ignore them after they fall from favor. It’s just not right. It’s time we help them to get back on their feet. It’s a good feeling to know that we’re making the world a better place.”

Of course, I was inspired by the ads for the recent “Race for the Cure,” an area fund-raiser for breast cancer research, and I basically thought too long about the name of the event. Mea culpa. Oh well. That’s it for tonight.

vilipend / vil-EH-pen-d / treat as of small worth; condemn; disparage.

Word of the Day: deictic

This is a story that  I wrote during the height of the “Pluto-planet” controversy. I tweaked it to make it not so dated.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Five years ago Pluto,was  “downgraded” from “major” planet to “minor” planet.

Earthlings have always been fond of the little, icy world on the edge of our system. When it was discovered in 1930, Walt Disney felt that the name Pluto, and the new, noble planet it represented, would be a fitting moniker for the pet of his cartoon mouse, Mickey.

The news that Pluto would remain at least still be planet, has given hope to the members of the “Make Greenland a Continent Club,” an organization dedicated to the recognition of Greenland as a the world’s smallest continent. The group offers several arguments as to why Greenland should be “promoted” and feel that merely looking at the size of the island on a map is deictic enough to support their claim.

“If you look at Greenland on an ordinary classroom map, you will see our point.
Greenland is far larger than Australia, which has full continent status.” (This
comparison is based upon looking at a Mercator projection map, not based on
actual size relationships.) says the group’s President and founder. “I find it
rude that such a large land mass would be treated in such a fashion.”

Of course, after the Lake Champlain incident, (in which the relatively small
lake was awarded designation as a “Great Lake”, and then later that designation
was rescinded) the group had given up hope that Greenland would ever be
reclassified, and was trying to console itself with the fact that Greenland, if
not the world’s smallest continent, was still the world’s largest island.

Well, so much for that. Actually, there is a “Make Greenland a Continent” club.
It was “founded” by my sister, largely, I think, for the sole purpose of having
interesting debates with me. We would each take a side in the “important”
Greenland debate, and just argue for the sake of arguing. It was a fun mental
exercise, more about the game than about the topic of conversation. In fact, for
a class I took on Buddhism, I wrote a paper on the arguments we would have, ones much like the Greenland argument, as a sort of almost Zen intellectual game. The arguments were never hostile, just exercises, and sometimes, we would switch sides and argue the other side of the case. My professor was so amused by the whole thing, he asked me to ask my sister if he could join the “Make Greenland a Continent Club”. My sister, who was equally pleased, sent him a membership card and made him Vice President and Treasurer. He then asked her to pay her membership dues.

deictic: / DIK-tik / adj. from the Greek. directly pointing out or proving;

I figured, it was a good thing to pick a word from the Greek, since, well, without those crazy Greeks and their wacky gods, the Romans wouldn’t have had anything to steal, and we wouldn’t have named our planets after the Roman versions of Greek deities. Pluto, of course, was Hades to the Greeks.

Word of the Day: yisse

This is a short tale, and I admit, I wrote it many years ago, when Sally Jesse Raphael was still on television. So, it’s a tad dated, but, so long as you know that she was a talk show host, well, it makes sense.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Driven by the success of that Oprah Winfrey’s book club has granted to books that might otherwise have been low-key, low volume sellers, other talk show and radio hosts are themselves following her example.

Jerry Springer’ s Book Club this month features “The Anarchist’s
Cookbook,” and Springer himself offers to have his guests bring their
‘creations’  in for the audience to sample. Previous Springer picks have
included Jeff Foxworthy’ s “You Might Be a Redneck” book, the “Collected
Works of the National Enquirer” and “150 Ways to Widows can Annoy a Cousin’s
Necrophilac Wife after she’s Slept with your Brother and Married your

Sally Jesse Raphael, not to be out done, and, driven by her jealousy for
Oprah’s popularity and power over the publishing industry, is also trying to
project a cultured, literary, image. Says Raphael, “I yisse adoring crowds
that will jump the instant I speak to recommend some dumb book”

Raphael’ s first picks, she admits, are not for everyone, and she insists that
“while they aren’t quite the ‘high-falutin’ crap that Oprah recommends, they
sure are a heck of a lot less depressing.” Her selections recently have
included a Harlequin Romance novel (any will do, no specific title is needed),
any book by Danielle Steele, John Grisham’ s “A Time to Kill” and “The
Rainmaker” (because they both have movie versions, and well, that Matt Damon is pretty cute in ” The Rainmaker.”)


I thought about updating this one to make a more relevant reference to some other talk show host, but, I’m being lazy. It’s a thing.

yisse: /YIS-ee/ to desire, covet.