The Problem with Sweets: The Whole Tooth and Nothing But…


Isn’t it time you did something to curb your passion for sugar—those sumptuous calorie-laden desserts you just love to hate? Not your fault, you say? Just blame it on your sweet tooth (c.1390), “the liking or taste for sweet or sugary foods,” a term which originally referred to other delicacies as well.

Teeth have long carried the burden of character and associated with more than just biting and chewing. Since Chaucer’s time, they’ve also been linked to a sense of taste. When you had cold teeth, you were hungry. When you loved the tooth, you loved eating, making things toothsome, “savory” and “flavorful.”

You should have known better when you first cut your eyeteeth, those directly under the eye, your adult set, at 11-12 years. It did after all mark your entrance into adulthood. Cutting your eyeteeth (early18thC.) was testimony to your “gaining knowledge or discretion.”

Having your eyeteeth might make you worldly wise, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help when you finally got to be long in the tooth (19thC.), “getting on in years,” your gums often receding with age, making the teeth look longer.

Hopefully, this information is something you can sink your teeth into. Don’t bite my head if it doesn’t.

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Where the Wild Things Are


What’s boffo today?  It’s anything deemed by the unknown arbiters of success to be “very good.” The term is thought to have originated with the Hollywood trade magazine Variety, using the word in headlines as shorthand for a hit show, or in “boffo box office” returns. It’s a true Americanism whose roots are unknown. Boffo today is buff, though the two words are in no way related.

We have opera buffs, sport buffs, film buffs, and cooking buffs,  and internet gaming buffs– folks who are all enthusiasts of a particular area of human endeavor. The first ones were fire-buffs (c.19thC.) — those fascinated with the glamour and excitement of fires and fire-fighting.

What made them buffs was that firemen once slept on the floor in buffalo skin robes and wore buffalo skin overcoats and uniforms the yellowish color of tanned buffalo hides.

Being in the buff derives from the buffaloes’ treated hides which resemble our bare skin. When in the buff, we’re dressed in only our own hide – making devotees of nudism into, buff-buffs. Those who make it to the gym regularly pride themselves on being buff, their body being so well toned, they would look great even without clothes.

Buffaloes themselves were the first to be buffaloed, slaughtered into extinction on the American frontier. Hunters aimed for a clear kill of the dominant bulls in a herd, avoiding a stampede, leaving other members of the herd to be passively picked off one at a time.

Those who are buffs are also often easily buffaloed, incapable of clear-headed action and vulnerable to manipulation and herd instinct. This has left many a buff with few legitimate beefs, yet another story altogether.

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How Dumb Are You?


In this the age of political correctness, you never call out anyone who could be mentally challenged.   Even the nincompoop is off limits.  Every dummy and his brother have long been believed that he comes from the Latin non compos mentis, “with one’s mind not composed.”

Further study, however, reveals that he more likely derives from the Dutch poep, “fool’ or “clown.” As to the nincom? Well, there’s always the once common name “Nicodemus,” used the same way that Tom is used in “tomfoolery.” Or better yet, the Dutch nicht, “niece” or “female cousin,” plus om, “with,” “on,” or “about.”  Putting them together leaves you with “a relative of a fool” as in “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.”  It’s nothing more than a bit of guilt by association. Hey, nothing personal. It’s all relative.

Some prefer the abbreviated version, making him into a ninny shortening nincompoop, thereby making him more endearing or “innocent.” Or you could simply treat him as a variation of the Spanish niño, “an inexperienced child.”

Anyway you cut it, he’s still a few fries short of a happy meal, a can or two short of a six-pack, a doughnut short of a dozen, and a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

If you’d like your comments to cut closer to home: The light is on but no one is home. The stairs don’t reach all the way to the attic, and the elevator doesn’t go to the top.

Still doesn’t get it? That’s understandable.

He transmits, but he doesn’t receive. …Over and out.

Mother’s Day Addendum

Fred Burks for PEERS and calls to our attention even more delightful and pertinent information about Mother’s Day which we would like to share with you.

A beautifully composed Mother’s Day video explores the history and origins of this special day. The inspiring four-minute video below features caring mothers from around the world talking about the importance of Mother’s Day and its origins.

To explore the origins of Mother’s Day, we travel back over 100 years in time to 1908, where we meet Anna Jarvis, a woman who strangely enough never married nor had children. In a very meaningful way, Mother’s Day was her child.

Ms. Jarvis created Mother’s Day to celebrate her own mother, a caring, dedicated activist, and world-class mother. As stated in an MSNBC article on the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, “by all accounts, Jarvis’ mother Ann was a community activist who worked to heal the divisions in north-central West Virginia following the Civil War, and to promote improved sanitation by creating Mothers Friendship Clubs.”

Just six years after its birth, a 1914 resolution by President Woodrow Wilson turned Mother’s Day into a national institution. Yet with its rapidly growing popularity, Anna Jarvis became increasingly upset with its rapid commercialization.

Later in her life, Ms. Jarvis stated that she “wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control.” As stated in the MSNBC article, “before she died in 1948, she protested at a Mother’s Day celebration in New York, and was arrested for disturbing the peace.”

As you watch the beautiful video below, consider letting go of the commercialization and stepping back into the pure spirit and intention upon which Mother’s Day was originally founded. What better way to honor our mothers and the founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis.

Read the text of the original Mother’s Day proclamation below. And as you celebrate Mother’s Day this year, consider honoring both Anna Jarvis and your own mother. Notice where you might want to commercialize this special day. Then choose instead to invite back the spirit of its origin as you honor your mother or your own motherhood. And if you are a mother, I wish you a most warm and beautiful Mother’s Day. Thanks so much to all mothers for bringing us into this life here and for nurturing and supporting us to shine our light in the world.


Mother’s Day Proclamation

Note: The below text was written in 1870 as a reaction to the carnage of the US Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War by Julia Ward Howe, mother of Mother’s Day founder Anna Jarvis.

Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field.

Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.

Arise, then, Christian women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Have I Got Something to Tell You!


You’re in the middle of an intense card game. Suddenly an onlooker bends over and whispers into your ear — a suggestion as to what to do next. Such distracting comments in the midst of a contest are known as kibitzing (c.1927). It’s a Yiddish word derived from the German, kiebitz (c.1908), a plover or lapwing, a bird conspicuously noted for its screaming cry.

If might kibitz a bit, I’d remind you that the word should not be confused with the kibbutz, an Israeli community organized around collectivist principles, deriving from the Hebrew qibbus, ‘gathering.’ A member of such a settlement, incidentally, is a kibbutznik as opposed to the meddlesome intruder – better known as a kibitzer.

Those who would put an end to this annoying practice or render it ineffective are said to put the kibosh on it (c.1832). Though it sounds like it also has Yiddish or Hebraic roots, this phrase more likely comes from the Gaelic, cie bas, ‘cap of death,’ referring either to the black cap worn by British judges when pronouncing the death sentence or to the hood put over the head of a guilty party about to be hanged. It all sounds pretty final to me.

“What’s really behind all this worthless information?” you ask. “What can we do with it?” If nothing else, you are left with a great tongue-twister: kibosh on kibitzing in the kibbutz.