Susan speaks . . .
Original verse
poeticizing
words worth enjoying!
Blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah
blahg . . .

August 21, 2014
Waiting for an Afflatus

    I’m not a fan of blogs, and I never thought I’d be writing one.  However, in the process of updating my current Webpage, and continuing to look for designs for a new one, I had this sudden impulse to add a
    “blahg” page.   

    This immediately created a problem:  what on earth do I say?  What do I write about?  
    Shouldn’t the impulse that drove me create this new page also provide the content?

    A sudden impulse.  During my childhood, I frequently heard (in church settings) of people having been “called by God.”  Visiting missionaries almost always testified that they were in their line of work in
    response to a definite “call from God" – likewise, guest ministers and people testifying about some miraculous change of life.

    I always wondered at the expression – at the sheer mystery of it.  What did this call sound like?  What did it feel like?  Were my own faith and spirituality somehow lacking and substandard, in that I was never
    privy to such a call?  As I grew older and (even more) cynical, I put the whole concept of a summons from God (other than in the Tennysonian sense) somewhere on a continuum from self deception to
    arrogance.

    Inspiration?  Now, that is something entirely different. A sudden impulse. A crazy idea.  A brainstorm.  Divine?  Who can really tell?  Is it the work of God, or one of the Muses, or is it simply indigestion?

    Peter Bowler in, The Superior Person’s Book of Words, has an entry for a word describing such a scenario.  He writes,
          
    While dining with your beloved, you might suddenly put down your knife and fork, gasp, stroke your forehead with your hand, lean forward tensely, and say, in unconcealed agitation:  “Jennifer, I think I’ve just had an afflatus!  
           
    An afflatus – (uh flay' tuss) -- a creative impulse, or a sudden rush of divine or poetic inspiration.

    Now, that kind of call I can relate to.  And I was inspired to write the verse to the below.  Please don’t blame God, though.  

    
Also available.
Order from amazon.com:

Read what people  have
said about it.

    September 22, 2014
    The Story of O

    After giving my webpage a facelift about a month ago  … and adding a blog page … (and subsequently mirroring that redesign into my Whimsy Publishing webpage as well) I made a commitment to be much
    more regular in updating this page.

    So, when I proceeded to do just that, I had to select a new word to feature.  That’s not easy, since there are close to five hundred verses in my “inventory.”  However, that choice was narrowed dramatically
    simply by my predilection for orderliness.

    Order.   One would never guess from the condition of my desk and its surrounding area that this is a priority for me.  It’s more obvious from the title (and resulting organization) of my book, WORDS’
    WORTH’S Vocabulary Verse A to Z and Back Again, that a simple way of selecting words is to let the alphabet assist.

    The same is true for my featured word selection.  Since I began that process alphabetically, I was able to pick – not from five hundred choices – but from thirteen. I had just posted an “n” word.  Now it’s time
    for “o.”  Hence, "The Story of 'O'” and my search for an “o” word.

    Yes, in spite of my cluttered workspace, my approach to certain matters can frequently be described as abecedarian.
    (Having to do with the alphabet. Being arranged alphabetically. Elementary or rudimentary.)

    William Blake wrote,"And here he lays his words in order above the mortal brain."  I, too, lay my words in order.  Sometimes.

    I found an amusing quote from a newspaper search some time ago:

    Ertner, … could DooLittle more than share some undoctored wan liners from his award-winning routine of 26 abecedarian animal puns.  “Some may say it’s a harebrained attempt, but, iguana tell you, I’m no jackass – and I kid you
    not,” quietly recites Ertner, … .  “I’m not doing this for a lark (although maybe just a mite).  So don’t nag me.  In fact, you otter try to parrot me.  But don’t quail from the challenge …”
    The Boston Globe, “New Paean to Punny Guy,” May 26, 2002 (by Ron Fletcher).

    Relax.  I’ll not try to add to the puns.  But the emphasis on animals, plus the fact that abecedarian rhymes with …   Well, it resulted in this verse.

    Abecedarian
    Veterinarians
    Care for their sick in an ordered design:
      Aardvark, bird, caribou,
      Dog, goose, horse, kangaroo,
    Leopard, lynx, marabou, owl, porcupine.


Here's an idea!

Be a CAVe-man.

CommissionAVerse
   Date:  December 23, 2014
 The Story of Ose
    So much for good intentions. A monthly blog, indeed!  I see that it's been three months since I last "blahged."
    It's not entirely my fault, though.  Here's why:
    After writing "The Story of O" for September, I had an idea for this very entry.
    For many years I subscribed to the quarterly publication Word Ways.  (Subtitled "The Journal of Recreational Linguistics.")
    In the intervening years, due to moves back and forth across the country, my subscription lapsed, and my back issues got lost in the shuffle.  I am once more a subscriber.  
    After my last (September) entry, my idea was to do an entry that included a reference to a piece that was in an old issue of Word Ways. (I'm fairly sure it was the April, 1997 issue.) In the process of resuming a
    subscription, I tried valiantly to procure a copy of that issue.  I must be an extremely poor communicator.  I simply couldn't seem to make my wishes clear enough, and now three months later, I still cannot
    make the quotes I had hoped to lift from "The Story of Ose."  All I can say with any confidence is that it had inspired me to write the following verse, which its (then) editor, Ross Eckler, included in the
    subsequent issue.  So, you see, I've spent three months hoping that the Farrells (who now edit the magazine) might supply me with a copy.  I've given up.  But, here's the verse that "The Story of Ose" inspired:

                           Have you met Rose, the adipose?
                     Predisposed to cellulose?
                     Well, Rose just chose to say adios
                     To sucrose, glucose, and dextrose;
                     Fries, cakes, gravy – toutes les choses
                     (Et tous non-nons)
                     Responsible for outgrown clothes.
                    Now she'll be eating Cheerios,
                     With just a dose of skim lactose --
                             (I suppose).           SAJones 1999    
                            
February

I am lustration, and the sea is mine!
I wash the sands and headlands with my tide
My brow is crowned with branches of the pine;
Before my chariot-wheels the fishes glide.
By me all things unclean are purified,
By me the souls of men washed white again;
E’en the unlovely tombs of those who died
Without a dirge, I cleanse from every stain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882),
“The Poet’s Corner”

May 18, 2015

    My husband and I recently discovered, on a routine trip to the St. Michaels branch library, that a book sale was in progress.  We did NOT leave empty-handed.  One of my finds was a biography of Ogden
    Nash.  I have a great appreciation for his verse and his humor, and am always flattered when people tell me that my verses remind them of Nash.  In the foreword (by Dana Gioia) I was pleasantly surprised
    by finding the following Nashian example:        
         I would live all my life in nonchalance
                                   and insouciance
                                   Were it not for making a living, which
                                   is rather a nouciance.

    It was a pleasant surprise, since it showed me that we - Ogden and I - have sometimes latched on to the same words to highlight - to be amused by.  In this case, the word - the tie that binds - is insouciance.  
    And its "rhyme."  Here's a vocabulary verse I had written way back in 1999:

    Nothing’s a nuisance for those with insouciance.
    (Lightheartedness.  Blithe nonchalance.)

    Bad luck never daunts those bright insouciants.
    All of life is just par excellence.


    May nothing be a "nouciance" for you.  Wishing you a generous dose of insouciance -  lightheartedness, and nonchalance.  May your life be carefree, easygoing, happy-go-lucky, buoyant, untroubled,
    whimsical, and capricious.

October 6, 2015

    I thought I'd mention the visit to the United States of Pope Francis before it loses its cachet as "recent history." I had the good fortune of listening to his speech to Congress.  It was an exercise in
    concentration, due to his belabored English pronunciation.  However, it was a labor richly rewarded.
    I couldn't help but notice, though, his repeated reference to talking.  To  communication.  In fact, I counted.  He used the word dialogue twelve times in the course of his speech!
    Perhaps his writing/translating team could have looked up a few synonyms, if only for the sake of variety.  So, for their use in future trips to English-speaking countries, I offer them this verse, and it doesn't
    use the word "dialogue" even once:

    A fabulous word is confabulate:
    To chatter, converse, chew the rag, or prate;
    Commune, interface, have a tete-a-tete;
    Palaver, engage in small talk. ... But wait -
    There's more!  Shoot the breeze, rap, chin, captivate;
    Talk pleasantries, verbalize, and relate;
    To pow-wow, to chit-chat, to promulgate
    The news of the day, and get up to date;
    Recount, and riposte, and communicate.
    And ere I digress (i.e. divagate)
    Just let me emphatically iterate:
    The foregoing sums up confabulate.  SAJones 1999
December 10, 2015

    Knotty?  Or Knice?
    People and circumstances have been getting themselves tied up in knots as long as people and circumstances have existed.  Seneca the Elder (54 BC-39 AD) wrote in a letter to Lucillum, “We tie knots and
    bind up words in double meanings, and then try to untie them.
    It’s in the untying – of the knots themselves – that our phrase takes its meaning and owes its existence.  
    What is a  Gordian knot?
    It is a matter of extreme difficulty; a complicated, convoluted intricate, twisted problem.  Historically defined:
    Resembling in intricacy or insolubility the mythical knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia.  It was cut, rather than untied, by Alexander the Great after an oracle declared that whoever undid it would become
    ruler of Asia.
    To cut the Gordian knot means to act quickly and decisively, usually by bypassing the obvious or normal means of solution; to solve a problem boldly.
    So how do we deal with a Gordian knot?  I found a quote from the August 3, 2006 Financial Advisor  expressing such puzzlement over the dilemma:
    . . . everyone wrings their hands in frustration while staring at the Gordian knot.  Let us face it then - there is neither a magic salve nor an Alexandrian sword which can cleave the knot with a single blow.

    Yes, we can despair, or we can adopt the advice of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) in "Ode to Liberty":
       
       Lift the victory-flashing sword,
       And cut the snaky knots of this foul gordian word.

    First, find that flashing sword.  Then, just take if from my alter-ego, Words’Worth:

    Stymied.  (That’s you!)  And distraught;
    In a difficult, intricate spot.
    Insoluble!  You’re overwrought,
    Confronting this Gordian knot.


They’re breezy, go-easy, untroubled, carefree-sy
And happy-go-lucky, to boot.

They’re buoyant, sans souci, almost loosey-goosey;
Capricious, and don’t-give-a-hoot!                SAJ  1999
Vets alphabetical
Practice a medical
A-to-Z style – patients lined up by kind:
Quail, rooster, serpent, snail,
Tortoise, then wasp, and whale;
Yak next.  And zebras trail not far behind.        SusanAJones 2003
With due respect and high regard for onomatopoeia,
Sometimes the sound a word imparts can give the wrong idea.
So many words – like buzz and hiss and pop – hint at their meanings,
We oftentimes infer too much, just based on sounds. And leanings.
Just think what startled, disapproving looks might be the status
To hear some guy declare with glee he’s just had an
afflatus.
Relax.  He only means he’s had a breath of inspiration;
A sudden, strong, creative gust of pure imagination;
An impulse, strong and stimulating, almost Herculean;
A brainstorm; insight; fancy.  Nothing more.  I’m guaranteein’   
SusanAJones  1999
Unravel it?  Don’t be a nut!
It isn’t worth busting your gut.
Think out of the box, and guess what? –
You’ll see it’s much simpler to cut
It.        
SAJones 10/2006
April 12, 2016
A Word on (and for) Aging

    One of my favorite times of day is the early evening.  Almost twilight.  It’s still daylight, but as I look eastward, out over the swale towards the Choptank River, the sky is beginning to turn slightly pink.   The
    water responds with a delicate, indefinable turquoise.
    Perhaps a motorboat or a sailboat will be visible off in the distance.  Or a workboat.  Or, in the very best of scenarios, the skipjack Rebecca Ruark will sail by.
    It’s a beautiful time.  It’s a special time.  It’s a magical time.  Somewhere between daylight and evening.
    Perhaps it’s all the more meaningful and precious to me because it relates to my own stage of life – somewhere between daylight and evening.  It’s a special and magical time of life, too:  no longer young, but
    not yet old, either.
    It’s a time when the successes and failures, the fulfillments and disappointments, the joys and sorrows of the past merge and resolve.  It’s a time when I can come to accept what my life has and has not been;
    when I can relax and take in the beauty of the departing day, and come to peace with myself.  Best of all, it’s a time when I am able to see both a certain melancholy and humor in my life, in myself, in my
    condition.  And I can still look forward to what I hope will be a beautiful sunset.
    Ivan Turgenev, in Fathers and Sons, called this time of life crepuscular.  Crepuscular, meaning dimming and indistinct and resembling twilight.  He wrote of
    That vague, crepuscular time,
    the time of regrets that resemble hopes,
    of hopes that resemble regrets,
    when youth has passed,
    but old age has not yet arrived.
    Yes, my youth has indeed passed.  My hopes and regrets mirror and intertwine.  But I refuse to accept that old age is just around the corner, either.
    Still, though, I’m ready to accept an inevitable slowing of pace, a certain decline of the body and the senses with grace and especially with humor.  Here’s how I’d describe it in verse:

                I’m in my crepuscular years;
    My hopes now resemble my fears;
    An indistinct time,
    Just a mite past my prime,
    And words fall on weakening ears.

    Yes, it’s a precious time of life.  Like that almost-twilight time on the Choptank.
I’m at a crepuscular stage
Somewhere between youth and old age:
Life’s light bulbs are fading,
My mind’s retrograding,
And my intellect’s slow to engage.
I’m in a crepuscular phase,
With twilight’s dim, lengthening rays,
And sunsets symbolic,
Regrets melancholic,
And precious – yes dwindling – days.
SAJones 4/2009
July 12, 2016
Posted and Quartered

    Or is it hung and quartered?
    Three months - a quarter of a year - have passed since the last posting.
    No outcry, no clamoring from the masses of admirers that they miss these insights.
    The world, it seems, does not need another blog, hence this blahg - this "anti-blog" or "pseudo-blog."

    Did you ever notice how the first-person pronoun permeates most blogs you read?  
    Take a look the next time your friend, neighbor, or cousin posts his/her latest musings.
    How far into the first sentence do you have to read before encountering that initial "I"?

    When are blogs a welcome and refreshing addition to our reading lives?
    When are they merely an exercise in solipsism?
The little I, the bigger we,
The all-inclusive us.
They fill the lines of bloggery;
(Ego - ubiquitous!)
SAJones 7/2016
NEW!!
It's here!
 
Order from
amazon.com
September 22, 2016
May I Take Your Order?

    A posting about three weeks ago on Facebook’s “A Way with Words” caught my attention, and I thought I’d share. I also remembered that it had been some time more than two months, as it turns out) since
    I’ve “blahged.”  Hence, this (with the help of Facebook) sharing.
    The posting I saw had been copied from what I believe is Mark Forsyth’s The Elements of Eloquency and is from the chapter on hyperbaton, or the use, especially for emphasis, of a word order other than the
    expected or usual one. Mr. Forsyth writes:
    “Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order:
    opinion – size – age - shape – colour – origin – material - purpose  NOUN.
    So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost
    none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can’t exist.”

    I guess polka-dot, yellow, teeny-weeny bikinis can’t exist, either. You cannot have a green, great dragon? Or can you? Now, I’m going to be looking for exceptions to the rule. The rule that we know without
    either knowing it, or being able to write it out.
    Btw, The Cambridge Dictionary lists a slightly different order: opinion- size-physical quality- shape-age -colour - origin – material- type - purpose.
    So – don’t forget to order my wonderfully amusing, little, rectangular, colorful, newly-published, paperback, vocabulary-verse book.

    A wonderful word is the adjective.
    Grouped together, these modifiers give
    notion, size, age, shape, and hue,
    origin, make-up, and use.  BUT, you
    must make them line up just so.
    (A fact you instinctively know!) SAJones 9/2016
October 29, 2016
Swallowing Lies

    Will November 9th ever get here?
    There's a Norwegian saying,
    "The word that lies nearest the heart comes first in the mouth."
    That, plus being re-introduced to the "old lady who swallowed a fly" (and a spider etc.)  - I've been substitute teaching in the local school district - combined to "inspire" this verse:

    So . . . what’s with this chap
    in the red baseball cap . . . ,
    out of whose yap spews spurious crap,
    (“trumped-up,” mayhap)?
And . . . how 'bout those guys
who swallow his lies?
I don't know why they swallow his lies,
but I surmise,
that they LIKE this dude,
his behavior crude,
AND his multitude of insults rude.
. . . Perhaps we're screwed!
SAJones 10-2016
November 9, 2016
I encountered a new word just last week. Widdershins. Somehow how I’d missed it – although it’s been used as/in book,
play, and musical composition titles.  I put it to verse, using it in the metaphor of writing, although “current events”
are a fitting example of its use, too. Today, particularly, I find it appropriate.

widdershins  adj.  (widr’ shins)
Also,
withershins.
In a wrong, contrary, or counterclockwise direction.  
Counterclockwise, as contrasted to clockwise, or
deasil.
Often described as “against the sun,” and considered unlucky.
From German, wider (back, or against) and sinnes (in the direction of)
God help us.
Our plot’s proceeding well– but then,
the slightest slip-up of the pen,
brings dotted t’s and criss-crossed i’s.
Subplots turn counter-
not clockwise.
We’re upside down and in tailspins,
veered wrong, and going
widdershins.
We’ve somehow zigged instead of zagged.
Contrary motion has us plagued.
Against the norm, the crowds, the hordes
We’re topsy-turvy.  Bass-ackwards.        SAJones 11/2016
December 26, 2013

A bright red background to mark Christmas just
past.
This year's holiday greetings have been almost
totally reactive.  We receive a card; we send a
card.

For many years, I have written a special word
verse to share at Christmas time.  This year's
verse I actually wrote almost a year ago,
anticipating  the usual holiday commitments and
wanting to be prepared.

Yesterday I posted it for my Facebook friends,
and today I will  share it with any intrepid souls
who might happen upon this blahg.  The word -
pinguefy - is archaic, so you probably won't
encounter it; however one of its related words,
pinguid, is still in use.
Are you getting ye olde Christmas
WORDS’WORTH©?

Christmas is coming.  The geese are getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
(Nineteenth century British carol)

I’ve saved some pennies, shared a few – helped fill deserving hats;
but times and habits change.  Mine have for sure, and that’s
why I’m not likely to be found downtown or at the mall.
I’m home, curled up with catalogs.  Rejoicing.  Tra L’
a La.  With fireplace going, glass of wine.  Again, this year,
I’ll shop online, enjoying comfy Christmas cheer.
The shopping malls are begging for our bustle and our dough;
while I’m at home, and spending snugly.  Ho Ho Ho!
I’m feeling somewhat smug and sassy,
pinguid (that means fat),
complacent in my comfort; justified in knowing that
I’m not alone. The stores, alas, are being overlooked.
Those brick-and-mortar merchants – well, their geese are getting cooked.
SAJones 1/2016
pinguid, (pin’ gwid), adj.
Fat.  Fatty, oily, greasy, rich.
Related to
ye olde word for this Christmas:
pinguefy, verb (pin’ gwǝ fī)
Archaic. To fatten; to make or become greasy, fat, or
rich.  
Fatty, greasy.  That’s what geese are –  compared, say,
to the more currently traditional turkey.
Thus, many chefs recommend slightly different ways of
preparation.  
I’ve spared you the rhymed recipe.
But, even when these geese are cooked – roasted – it’s
not (except for the geese!) like the more idiomatic
expression of cooking someone’s goose, or of having
one’s goose cooked, which as we all know too well,
means:
Upset, finished, ruined.
(Like many brick-and-mortar merchants!)

    March 27, 2017

    No philosophical musings today.
    Simply an acknowledgment of this being Sammy's birthday.

    Sammy is our rescue dog, our adopted "holy terrier."
    (OR, is he an "avant-guard" dog?)
    We have had him eight of his eleven years, and we continually
    remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have him - and, of  
    course, we have to keep telling him how lucky he, in turn, is to
    have us.
Crepuscular is just one of
the may wonderful
word-verses in my latest
collection of verse.
April 27, 2017
At the Peak of my Pique

Earlier this month, on the 5th of April, to be exact, I saw the following sentence on the front page of
Easton’s
Star Democrat:

    '“Any time you have a positive rating like this one, it peaks people’s interest,” Silverstein said.’
    (Italics and underline mine!)

The schoolmarm-verbivore in me just could not let it pass. I created a new verse. Then, the
next day, I sent it and the following to the paper’s executive editor,  John Griep:

    The word you want is pique. Thus, you
      have made a “peak-a-boo-boo.”
    Yes, interests can reach a peak,
      Or lessen, and grow dim and weak.
    But . . . the verb that means to rouse, excite,
      and whet one’s mental appetite,
    And curiosity . . . is pique.
      (Hope you’ll pardon my critique.) SAJones 4/2017


    Pique is one of those words that – if not exactly a contranym (a word
    that within itself has opposite meanings, such as sanction or cleave) –
    has very widely differing meanings.  

    Of course, as the verse above states, it means to arouse or stimulate,
    especially the curiosity.  But the verb can also mean to trigger feelings of
    wounded vanity, and the related noun means those resulting feelings of
    resentment (e.g. a fit of pique).

    I hope that Mr. Silverstein was not piqued by the solecism you attributed
    to him.

    Sincerely,
    Susan Jones
Date:  July 1, 2017

What ARE the News?

QUICK!! What is a word that is singular, but that looks
plural?
Kinda like – well –
news. OR politics, mumps, mathematics,
physics, ethics, or kudos (sometimes!).
AND not only does it look deceptively plural, it has two
acceptable pronunciations.

Have you guessed it yet?
I’ll let (newspaper columnist, author, humorist, and political
satirist)
Russell Baker introduce the word.

A couple of years ago, I read Lewis Burke Frumkes’s
The
Logophile’s Orgy: Favorite Words of Famous People.
I highly
recommend it, by the way.  Here is the contribution from
Russell Baker:

    ``Melancholy'' is one of my favorite words, but if proper
    nouns may be considered, no word satisfies me more utterly
    than ``Pushtunistan.'' Can you bear a fardel?
    The funniest word in English is ``fardel,'' the most pompous
    is ``obloquy,'' the most unnecessary is ``congeries,'' and
    the hardest to pronounce without sounding like a twit is
    ``prescient.''

The answer is word number five:  congeries.        
Yes, it looks plural, but it is singular.

It means a jumble, a heap, a disorderly collection,
“a sum total of many heterogenous things taken
together.”
Dictionary.com shows the first, preferred,
pronunciation as
kon-
jeer’-eez
However, other sources (e.g. m-w.com, Wordsmyth,
Oxford Dictionaries) show
kon’-jeer-eez

I love this next quote:

    Our politicians are voids or spreading zones of emptiness,
    a set of focus-grouped phrases and nice outfits, a
    congeries of cliches, representations of which there
    is no reality. In the terms of the late theoretician Jean
    Baudrillard, our politics is a precession of simulacra.
    (Crispin Sartwell, Los Angeles Times)

A congeries of clichés.  Wonderful.  
I think I feel a verse coming on.  
But how to deal with the accent choices?  Hmmm.  
          VERSE IN A CONGERIES OF CLICHÉS

At the drop of a hat, and right off the bat,
and for better or worse, I’m composing a verse.
I’m avoiding clichés like the plague.

A conger’ies – or, if you please, con’geries
Of my words, random thoughts, pithy mots, and whatnots
(no banalities!) makes this mixed bag

of a rhyme “top
chapeau,” if I may say so.
In a (singular!) word, simply put and unblurred,
It’s a masterpiece.  Don’t mean to brag!
  SAJones 6/2017

    Now that I look back at it, I think Baker was right.  
    Congeries may just be a “most unnecessary” word.  
    What do you think?

    (As for the word simulacra in the Crispin Sartwell quote, click
    here and scroll down!)
    Date:  August 8, 2017

    MEME WHAT YOU SAY.  SAY WHAT YOU MEME

    Have you ever stopped to wonder how a word can just seem to appear in your life? Suddenly, you see it
    everywhere, and everyone (except you) appears to use it and know its meaning, while you’re still wondering
    where it came from and what exactly it means.

    One such word has been annoying me much of this past year. The word is “meme.” How could it have crept up
    on me? Am I the only one who cannot define “meme”?

    A little looking reveals that the word has been around for just over forty years.  It was coined in 1976 by a
    British scientist, Richard Dawkins, who was looking to find a word that, as he put it, meant “a unit of cultural
    transmission.”  He first considered the word mimeme, from a Greek root, but he wanted a monosyllable that
    “sounded a bit like ‘gene’” He came up with meme.

    It was Mike Godwin (of Godwin’s Law and Internet Meme “fame”) who first applied the word to Internet
    behavior.

    A simple definition might be an image macro.
    But, then maybe we don't even know what a macro is!
    Or, how about a billboard, writ small . . . (and put online).
    Consider this definition from dictionary.com:  
    a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition and replication in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.
             Do I hear a “Huuhh?”
    In their defense, however, they do give a slightly more user-friendly description:
    a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and then altered in a creative or
    humorous way.

    Way back in the seventeenth century, the poet John Dryden wrote, “Words are but pictures of our thoughts.”  
    Had he been able to experience memes, he might have said, “Pictures are but pictures of our thoughts.”  Here’s
    how I (finally!) – and in verse (of course!) – define “meme.”



It’s an insight, a slogan, a fact,
a reflection – white print upon black(?) –
and it sums up the
meme-ing of life.

Someone’s brainstorm – most likely all caps.
Clear.  Succinct.  (Facebook posting, perhaps?) -
clarifying the
meme-ing of life.

Photos, ‘toons –  quotes superimposed.
Timely.  Funny, maybe, and supposed
to interpret the
meme-ing of life.

Then, the video clips –  short, wry, cute,
entertaining, instructive to boot,
shedding light on the
meme-ing of life.

It’s the web’s basic unit for sharing
your gems – a device for declaring
your thoughts on the meme-ing of life.

I’m bombarded with
memes.  (They’re in style!)
And the tacit assumption is . . . I’ll
say, “Amen.”  And share.  
Not on your life!        
SAJones
8/2017
    November 26, 2017
    To "An" - or Not to "An"

      Bulldog tenacity prompts this screed – an unwavering adherence to
    what is “right” – right, according to my unbending prescriptivist sense of
    grammar and usage. I still try to put on the “descriptivist” label, but
    frequently it just doesn’t fit. So . . .
       What am I fuming about?
       Something that is more than a usage pet peeve, or a bête noir, or
    even abomination, and something that might seem petty and trivial to
    most. In the larger scheme of things, it certainly does rank low in
    importance.    
       To me, however, it is an anathema.
       Yes – it is an anathema that so many writers use this lovely noun
    (meaning a detested thing or person) without an article.
    Anathema is a noun, folks. Some descriptivist apologists mealy-mouth
    that it is an “uncountable” noun and/or is used as a predicate
    nominative (what my generation was taught to call a predicate noun).
    They posit that it can therefore be used without a determiner – (that’s
    spelled “article!”). I maintain that it still requires an article –
    (“determiner”). Predicate nouns (nominatives) still need an article.
        Do we say, “Mary is nurse,” or “Mary is acrobat”? No. And
    “uncountable” nouns, too, are not necessarily exempt. I don’t
    recommend saying, “Mary is pleasure to be with.” Certain nouns that
    are qualities would be spared from requiring the article: “Mary is
    sweetness itself.”  However, anathema is not a quality. By definition, it is
    a thing or person. Use the article. Use an.

       
       
       It seems, though, that I’m fighting a losing battle.
       In fact – let’s face it – I’ve lost!

       When I search OneLook.com, I bring up 42 general and specialized
    dictionaries that list anathema.
       Out of the first twelve I checked, all of them classify it as a noun.  Yet,
    only two give examples using the indefinite article. An anathema!
    A search for recent articles in the Washington Post similarly brings up
    example after example of writers omitting the “an.”  Of the first twenty
    usages, only two were “right.” Thank you, thank you, Jennifer Rubin, for
    being a beacon of correctness.
        One of the most inane excuses for the omission of “an” that I found
    came from one website inviting anyone/everyone to chime in on the
    issue. This opinion: “An anathema” makes one sound as if one is
    stuttering so one should avoid it all costs.”
       By that argument, one should also avoid speaking of an anachronism,
    an anaconda, an analogy, an anthology, an Anabaptist, an anesthetist,
    lest one be taken for a stutterer. Perhaps this person wants to be
    anarchist when (s)he grows up.
       The point is that today’s writers are using the word anathema as an
    adjective and not as a noun.
       Why don’t we just call it an adjective and have done with it?


  

 I realize that I’m outnumbered
 by writers/speakers unencumbered
  (as
I am) by grammar laws.
 Please say, “It’s
an anathema,”
 and spare the righteous wrath of
moi.
 You’ll win, instead, prescriptivist applause.
        SAJones 11/2017
February 24, 2015
Every Month?  

Another two months have passed, and my initial skepticism is validated.  I'm simply not a blogger.

However, I do have a poem I'd like to share, and soon,  before another week (and February) are past.

At one point, when trying to decide on a theme for my next book compilation, I toyed with the idea of an
almanac.
I would start with January, of course, and include words such as
Janus-faced, and brumal and other wintry
gems.

But what about February?  In looking for examples, I found the opposite Longfellow poem, which also supplied
another vocabulary word to build one of my own verses on.  As it happens, February comes from the Latin
Februa - "feast of purification."

Our weather this month has given us our own "feast of purification" - our
lustration.
February

I am lustration, and the sea is mine!
I wash the sands and headlands with my tide
My brow is crowned with branches of the pine;
Before my chariot-wheels the fishes glide.
By me all things unclean are purified,
By me the souls of men washed white again;
E’en the unlovely tombs of those who died
Without a dirge, I cleanse from every stain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882),
“The Poet’s Corner”
    January 18, 2016
    Bah, Bah, Blahg?

    Not long ago, I overheard a conversation between two fellow writers.  Both bloggers.
    They were agreeing with each other in extolling their practice of posting their blogs at regular intervals.  Just the discipline of cranking out weekly columns, they concurred, made them better writers. It made
    them practice.  It made them produce.  Essentially, they were saying, it had made them into the wonderful writers they had now become.  They were self-congratulatorily convinced of it.

    I have to wonder.  Apart from the primary question of whether anyone at all is interested in what we have to say (more on that later), there is the secondary question of whether this self-imposed output
    routine – this repetitive process – truly guarantees increased quality.   Certainly many – most – of my favorite columnists have deadlines to meet.  But they also have accountability and editorial oversight.  
    And a critical readership of non-friends/relatives/co-workers.

    But deadlines for the sake of deadlines?  Does repeatedly practicing uneven scales improve the pianist?  I think not.  Does having to produce daily meals for the brood make one a better cook?  Maybe in
    some cases.  More frequently not.  Repetition can smooth things out, or it can iron in wrinkles.  It depends.  If at first you don’t succeed, doing it over and over again the same (perhaps wrong!) way is not a
    proven path to success.  One of my best music teachers/mentors advised that when practicing, I would accomplish much more if I practiced as though my teacher were in the next room, or sitting next to me.  
    Perhaps the blogger  likewise should pretend that every column is being graded or red-penciled.  (Or being read critically by a dispassionate, non-captive audience.)

    But the primary question I have of blogging, including this rambling example, is simply:  Who cares?  
    The recent proliferation of blogs is mind-boggling.  (Mind- "bloggling"?) Are our literary lives the richer for it?
    Do these two fellow writers – Do you – Do I – have something worthwhile to say?  Is that even the critical question?  I wish I knew.
    It’s one thing to be driven to write – for any variety of reasons:  scholarship; self enlightenment; self discipline; amusement; obsession; soul searching; finding one’s voice,  sharing. Our libraries give testament
    to this enriching drive to write.  And we thank the scholars and storytellers who have yielded to their obsession to write.
    But to make the enormous leap of assuming that anyone would look for my weekly postings?  Where does egocentrism leave off and blogging begin?  Or vice versa?    I wish I knew!  And if you have the
    answer, please share!

    I had a fleeting thought the other day –
    Somewhere between the whimsical, the trite,
    the droll, ingenious – it’s hard to say.
    At any rate, I knew I had to write
    it down.  And write it down I did.  And then,
    these musings having made it into writing,
    assumed a lofty sheen.  Somehow, my pen
    had been  a magic wand, my words delighting
    and delightful.  And I knew I had to share.
    “I’ll write a blog,” I said.  And then, alas,
    I had to wonder, “Who on earth would care?
    Just why would people give a rat’s . . . patootie?    SAJones 1/2016