Game Shows

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Who wants to be a millionaire? Your path to fame and fortune begins with the Latin via, “road.” — the first step via, “by way of” that special 800 number. Soon you come to a critical juncture, what the Romans called a trivium, from tri, “three,” + via, — creating the intersection of three roads where one and all gathered to share the latest gossip. The very mastery of such trivia allows you to continue.

Fortunately, you are already familiar with certain aspects of your trek from obvium, “that which you previously had met on the way,” from ob, “against,” + via, making your choices obvious. Removing them from your path, simply obviates them. However, the obstacles in your way become more and more devious, from deviare, taking you down another road, de, “away  from” your itinerary. Never once deviating from your goal, you are soon laughing all the way to the bank. The glitzy pianist, Liberace, coined that phrase back in 1954 in response to scathing reviews of his sold-out performances. His original statement had him ironically “crying,” not “laughing.” But when it comes to money, laughing is the American way, and knowledge is trivial.

Word Origin Comics: What’s Trending? Being in the Flow of Things

Are you up on the latest? Following the most recent trends? Get with it people!

“When modern sociologists talk of the necessity of accommodating one’s self to the trend of the time, they forget that the trend of the time at its best consists entirely of people who will not accommodate themselves to anything. At its worst it consists of many millions of frightened creatures all accommodating themselves to a trend that is not there. And that is becoming more and more the situation…Every man speaks of public opinion, and means by public opinion, public opinion minus his opinion.”
― G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

“Cigars are all the rage, dad. You should smoke cigars!” – Calvin

“Flatulence could be all the rage, but it would still be disgusting.” – Calvin’s mom”

― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere

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Dogging It

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Time to step out and party a bit, an occasion to put on the dog — affect some  sophistication and urbanity.

It all began back in the 11th century with King Boleslaus II of Poland who began the tradition during a war with Russia.

Concerned about the increasing incidence of infidelity on the home front and its impact on troop morale, he legislated that children born of such trysts be taken to the woods to die and the offending women be obligated to nurse puppies in their stead. They were also required to take these dogs wherever they went, resulting in their appearing publicly with them on their lap.

The practice, however, proved so commonplace and ultimately so popular, that it also became fashionable, giving birth to the concept of the lap dog.

Lapdogs were the rage in America after the Civil War, especially King Charles and Blenheim spaniels, imperious looking dogs very distant from the mutts most people knew.

Seeing these snooty dogs pampered by their pretentious owners inspired the charge of  putting on the dog which began as college slang at Yale in the 1860s and has been hounding  us ever since.

Word Origin Comics: How to Jumpstart Your Life

Is everyone ready to take a quantum leap? Let’s begin:

“Those who don’t jump will never fly.”
― Leena Ahmad Almashat, Harmony Letters

“The sparrows jumped before they knew how to fly, and they learned to fly only because they had jumped”
― Lauren Oliver, Liesl & Po

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The second page of the comics is HERE

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The Beatles

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It’s the stuff of which legends are made, or at least fables.  Prior to 1425, things fabulous were “mythical” or “legendary” from the French fabuleux and the Latin fabulosus, “celebrated in fable.” Not until 1609 did they also became “incredible.”

“Incredible” was the reaction of teenagers the world over to the Beatles. Breathlessly, they reduced fabulous to fab in the 1950s, making it the vogue around 1960, concluding with The Fab Four, the early nickname of the greatest pop rock group ever.

There’s been lots of talk about “The fifth Beatle.” Guesses as to his identity range from manager Brian Epstein to Stu Sutcliffe, an early member of the group who missed out on all the fame and glory.

On September 11, 1962, The Fab Four took its final form when Ringo Starr joined John, Paul, and George, replacing  Pete Best on the drums, making Pete probably — dare we say it — our “best” bet for number five.

 Yeh, yeh, yeh,” you say, a common corruption of “yes” (also “yeah”) since the 1920s and a component of their song “She loves you,” which for 14 years was Britain’s all-time best-selling 45 r.p.m. record. You do remember 45s, don’t you? Fabulous!

Word Origin Comics: Life Rubbing You the Wrong Way? Time to Get to the Root of It

Having trouble making it through the day? You’re probably caught up in the daily grind. The grind occurs when you push yourself to attain a certain goal but end up being caught up in the particulars, as in “I’ve been on the grind lately trying to pay my bills.” It’s closely akin to gears grinding when working beyond their capacity.

“Life was not to be sitting in hot amorphic leisure in my backyard idly writing or not-writing, as the spirit moved me. It was, instead, running madly, in a crowded schedule, in a squirrel cage of busy people. Working, living, dancing, dreaming, talking, kissing — singing, laughing, learning. The responsibility, the awful responsibility of managing (profitably) 12 hours a day for 10 weeks is rather overwhelming when there is nothing, no one, to insert an exact routine into the large unfenced acres of time — which it is so easy to let drift by in soporific idling and luxurious relaxing. It is like lifting a bell jar off a securely clockwork-like functioning community, and seeing all the little busy people stop, gasp, blow up and float in the inrush, (or rather outrush,) of the rarified scheduled atmosphere — poor little frightened people, flailing impotent arms in the aimless air. That’s what it feels like: getting shed of a routine. Even though one had rebelled terribly against it, even then, one feels uncomfortable when jounced out of the repetitive rut. And so with me. What to do? Where to turn? What ties, what roots? as I hang suspended in the strange thin air of back-home?”

― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Learning something new is a fabulous way to be refreshed. When work can grind you down, something about learning a new activity thrills the soul. It reminds you that the world is bigger than your desk and your to-do list.

—John Ortberg

Something new for today is that the Urban( slang) Dictionary also lists a “grind” as a “group of lesbians.”

“A gaggle of geese…a herd of elephants…a grind of lesbians.”

“I went to the coffeehouse to grab an espresso, but a grind of lesbians was protesting for fair trade coffee, blocking the door.”

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Supremes

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Mary Wilson, Diane Ross, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin grew up in the poverty stricken Brewster Housing Projects of Detroit. But they were primed for success, — “made ready or prepared from the first,” thanks to the Latin prime, “first” which also helped make them into the Primettes, sister group of the Primes.

The Primes went on to become the Temptations. Mary left to get married, Diane became Diana, and with the other two created the Supremes, from the Latin super, placing them head and shoulders above the rest.

Their supreme accomplishment came in October of 1966 when they became the first female vocal group to top the LP charts. Anybody remember LPs?

The Supremes was a tough act to follow, “a performance so outstanding, no one could hope to meet or exceed it” — a standard set in the early  days of vaudeville, when the best act was traditionally saved for last. The Supremes  were the  best,  la crème de la crème — a French expression from the mid 19th century, long before our tastes became homogeneous both in milk and the arts, the cream long since having been skimmed off both.

Oh for the days when they reigned Sup.

Top Rated

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Americans have always preferred things top-drawer (c.1900). It was, after all, where they kept their most precious objects. When it comes to describing things first rate, however, they’re at anything but their consummate best.

For awhile, they enjoyed being A1 (c.1830s), thanks to Lloyd’s of London’s Shipping Register which ranked the condition of ships by letter — A1 being the highest attainable rating.

A century later, excellence took a novel turn with the introduction of new nighttime attire. Considered both the height of fashion and somewhat risqué, it took on very special meaning during the twenties as the cat’s pajamas.

Soon all things feline came to embody excellence — everything from the cat’s meow to his whiskers, tonsils, roller skates, and galoshes. Other animals then followed suit, joined to incongruous body parts or articles of clothing, resulting in the bee’s knees, the gnu’s shoes, and the elephant’s instep, and — of course for that day when pigs will fly — the pig’s wings.

   Things of the first water, however, remained “unblemished,” diamonds having been rated first, second, or third water since 1820. But only if you were the eel’s ankles or the sardine’s whiskers.