Monday, February 28, 2011

A Kiss in the Rain

Frankly, rain is miraculous. Just ask a meteorologist some time, I'm sure they would concur. As would most inhabitants of deserts or drought plagued places the world over. The weather has been vacillating between snow and rain, and any mixture there of for most of the month of February; and the sheets of dancing drops drenching the land entrance me. And I wonder how rain became so equated with dreariness and the darker side of the human psyche.


Can there not be a joyous rain? Cinema and literature have been remiss in this. The best setting rain can hope to frequent is perchance romantic. Kissing in the rain has become a beacon of romance, Hollywood has been exploiting rain for years to this end. I must admit that while I once found rain dismal in every other respect, I also found it extremely fitting and be-spelling when actors lips were meeting in it. A la "Breakfast at Tiffany's" cue Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Romance defined it seems. 


What else could we do in the rain? Rain must have some sort of amplifying quality that makes the action happening in it . . . more somehow. I believe we're selling rain short if we stop at kissing in it. Sure we've covered crying, walking pensively or broodily, and on occasion fighting in it. But these all align with the negative, dreary role rain has played. Except with it's moonlighting for romance, every now and then. And of course we can't forget it's big debut "Singing in the Rain", but that seemed a shortly lived respite. 

Dance in the rain! This is the answer. You've heard of Rain Dancers haven't you? I hardly doubt that they stopped dancing once the rain came. And while I've never danced rain into falling, I have joined the drops after the fact. It is joyous, dancing in the rain. Particularly on warm summer days, if you're thinking about taking it up. No shoes, no steps, just flinging your body around amid thousands of falling water droplets. If that doesn't feel miraculous, I don't know what does, except perhaps a kiss in the rain. 


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Dastardly Mustache

Dastardly
[das-terd-lee] - adjectivecowardly; meanly base; sneaking: a dastardly act

Frankly, it's all about the Mustache. Somehow, dastardly has become synonymous with the mental picture of a man twirling waxed facial hair between his fingertips. The authentically dastard in the past, John Wilkes Booth, Bill the Butcher,  Blackbeard,  perhaps set the precedent. Therefore, a person can appear dastardly, and be innocent of any actual dastardliness. Hence the mustache rule.



Insults are what make language fun. And dastardly is perhaps one of the most delicious to say. It is an adjective usually reserved for describing truly despicable specimens of the human race. The traitors, the villains and the scalawags. Because of the mustache rule, however, I can sidestep actually using the inferred insult on the unsuspecting by saying someone looks dastardly.(see mustache chart, for reference)
The "Dastardly Mustache" Chart.

 Of course, few people are dastardly through and through. Many can act dastardly. That sneaky, mean, innate coward lurks in the dredges of everyone's soul, mustache or not.

But, remember this is why those who don a dastardly mustache seem innately suspect and look unnaturally good in black leather.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crazy Like a Goat!



Frankly, goats are crazy. It's alright though, they seem to be pretty okay with it. They've been caught willy and nilly flouting their craziness. I, however, not having the time to non-nonchalantly stalk a solitary goat or tail a tribe of them; have instead collected some photographic proof from other generous goat watchers. 



This is a Crazy Goat.
Don't scoff, I hear goat watching is a very popular and respected past-time in mountainous regions. As illustrated in the photo above, goats are perhaps unparalleled in outrageous behavior. It makes me want to be a goat. Not literally, obviously. But figuratively, I think we could all do with a bit of goat-ness. 

Brings a whole different definition to "rock climbing" and "family outing".
 What is goatness? Well, I'll tell you (since I just made it up). Goats only appear to be crazy. I mean, we humans think they've a screw loose for scaling sheer rock faces, hanging about in trees and the like. But it is all perfectly logical to other goats. Thus, brings us to "goatness," goats have an uncanny confidence and awareness of their own abilities and combine it with a "devil may care" attitude.



Ahh, this is what I call landscaping. A goat just adds a certain something to a tree, you know?


If you could ask a goat WHY he was standing in tree, he would most likely respond WHY NOT? (goats also like to answer questions with questions but that's just a quirk).Goats do not question their goatness. If a goat has a desire to stand in tree, and the means to get him there, he will do it. And he'll bring a bunch of his goat friends. 




Goats are also silly. Silly for the sake of it is practically a goat motto. If goats had thumbs I'm sure it would be emblazoned on mountain tops the world over. The goat angle on silliness can be summed up in one word: frolic. They frolic, to and fro, in fields, over rocks, on mountain tops. If goats recruited, frolicking would cinch the deal. 


The definition of "frolic".

So, I am going to get in touch with my inner goat and frolic often. Though, this may procure strange looks from the passerby, "Are you crazy?" they'll ask. And I'll smile and say, "You betcha, crazy like a goat!"


More Photos of Crazy Goats!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Julia Child was a SPY!



Mata Hari was double agent for Germany in France during WWI.
Frankly, I was shocked. While watching the History Channel last night, a program about the Revolutionary War and the Culper Ring (i.e. spy ring) , when a bomb of information was dropped on my unsuspecting head. Julia Child and Mata Hari were given as examples of female civilians that had become spies during wartime. Wait, Julia Child? A spy? What!? I realize I might be coming a little late to this party of knowledge; but, come on History Channel, how can you lump Julia Child and Mata Hari in one illustrative example sentence, like a passing thought? I, of course, had to investigate. As the History Channel spent all of 20 seconds, three sentences and a photo collage on the subject. As it turns out I'm not THAT late to this influx of covert intelligence. 

Julia Child worked for the OSS during WWII.
Julia Child didn't spill the beans of her super secret spy career until 2008, when records on the OSS were made public record. I'm still stunned that before Julia Child was a cooking legend she was in China dishing out secrets (pardon the pun). Though, the stark difference between Mata Hari and Julia Child (beside the fact that Hari was horribly executed)  is that Julia was on the intelligence end of spy intelligence. 

Working in an office filing, typing and cataloging. Not as sexy as the "undercover" cloak and dagger life of Mata Hari, perhaps, but then she didn't get shot by a firing  squad either. I'm with Julia on this one, I'd rather sneak quietly via file cabinets.Though Julia did help develop a shark repellent to put on explosives targeted for German U-boats. That's pretty bad-ass, if you ask me. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Weird Word Wednesday

Welcome to Weird Word Wednesday. I love words, especially weird ones and I believe we can all do our part in adopting the rarely spoken word or two so that these fantastically bizarre words are not lost to the pages of dictionaries. And it might help you score ridiculously high in Scrabble (you just never know when you'll have an impromptu game of scrabble). 

Today's word is: 

FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION
[flok-suh-naw-suh-nahy-hil-uh-pil-uh-fi-key-shuhn]

–noun Rare. the estimation of something as valueless 
(encountered mainly as an example of one of the longest words in the English language)



It's a whopper ain't it? Not only is floccinaucinhilipilification one the longest words in the English language, it was first longest word: appearing in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (it was edged out by pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis in the second edition).  Floccinaucinihilipilification was created, quite understandingly, as a joke. A Latin joke, no less. 

This is a lot funnier if you have studied English, learned Latin and went to Eton College in the eighteenth century. 

Some, undoubtedly witty, youth created the word by stringing four latin words together flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili (which all mean "nothing" or "little value")  as they appeared in a text book and stuck -fication on the end making it a noun.  

Thus flocci, nauci, nihili, pili-fication is the act of deciding something is completely worthless. Ta Da!


 Most of my weird word selections will be more vocab friendly but I couldn't resist the longest word word about nothing. Long words are entertaining, it is such a human fixation to string the most letters together without slipping into gibberish. A fine line indeed. 

The down fall, as we can see from floccinaucinihilipilification, of having a longest word is that it is then unspoken challenge to the human race to create a longer one. The contest has even been taken to naming places (I'm sure this was a scheme cooked up by shrewd sign makers). 

A prime example is the longest place name in the USA, a lake in Massachusetts, topping out at 45 letters.

Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg; sometimes facetiously translated as "you fish your side of the water, I fish my side of the water, nobody fishes the middle". It's also know as Lake Webster, what cheaters. 

Long words seem to be the founders of the inside joke. Need proof? How about the longest official geographical name in Australia? 

Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya Hill is a Pitjantjatjara word from the native aboriginal language literally translating as "where the devil urinates." Now that's funny. 








*Many thanks to Michael Quinion at www.worldwidewords.org. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Winter Spell

It's winter, and what's worse it's February.
The worst month of the Midwest, I'm convinced. There is no special place in my heart for February, because not only is it frigidly bleak, it's impossible to spell (there are just too many letters in it). This years saving grace has been snow. Winter's beautiful child. I was never quite so enraptured of it until I ran across this poem that showed winter in a fonder light.



Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 

Robert Frost
New Hampshire
1923
I believe everyone can find some familiarity in the last stanza, famous poems are regularly reduced to a few oft quoted lines. Reading it in it's entirety was nothing short of delightful , it is such a lovely winter poem. I would think having the last name like "Frost" would be too much pressure concerning  writing on winter subjects.
Winter gets a bum rap sometimes as a season because it lacks frills and sunshine. Through Frost's eyes, however, winter personifies the beauty of solitude and silence and secrets.

I am undoubtedly under his spell, and I am content to stay there until spring.



Monday, February 14, 2011

Frankly, my dear . . .

. . . I don't give a damn

The immortal words of Clark Gable were never "Gone with the Wind" and are, quite frankly, a personal mantra I'd like to adopt. It is such an awful story, really. 

Scarlett blinded by her own unrequited love until it is too late. It should be abhorrent, as an ending, as a viewer I should be devastated or at the very least a bit cheated. As far as love stories go, romance films end with a kiss. Right? Oddly, I was satisfied. There was something about the succinctness. There was nothing else left to say. It was so . . . honest.


That is what "frankly" means. To be honest, to in truth say something. I believe honesty is quite underrated. It is rare and slightly terrifying to not only say what you are thinking or by god feeling, because we are rarely truly honest with ourselves. That is perhaps why honesty and truth aren't mutually exclusive principals. 


Seeing such unbridled honesty I believe is like bearing witness to a live birth; a riveting, awkward, slightly horrifying, and strangely beautiful experience. 


I don't know how frank became an adverb and then a modifier; the english major part of my psyche loves it for that alone, but I'm intrigued. While using the word "frankly" infers the following words are part of some truth or at least honest, it doesn't ensure it. 

Quite frankly, I think Rhett was lying. He gave a damn, all right.