Writer's Words, page 11


What kind of cockamamie lingo is slang anyway? Samuel Johnson railed against it, complaining about the corrupting influence on the English language of what in his day was called cant. Daniel Defoe hated it. Noah Webster, in his 1828 American Dictionary, defined slang as “low, vulgar, unmeaning.” And in all the years since, legions of teachers have tried to eradicate it. … It was with the onset of the English Restoration in 1660, when public literacy began to flower, that notions about the language started to change. The criminal classes and otherwise illiterate people evolved their own argot to serve as both a private code and a subversive nose-thumbing at the Establishment, and it was to guard against this verbal pollution that writers and critics like Johnson tried to formulate proscriptions aimed at purifying “the King's English.”
Substandard-Bearer By Jesse Birnbaum. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,981040,00.html On slang.
Samuel Johnson (1670 – 1784). Noah Webster (1758 – 1843). Daniel Defoe (≈1661 – 1731). See also: argot.


Despite these arguments, cynics, pundits and alternative-music ideologues were predicting Woodstock '94 would be a corporatized simulacrum of the original festival. A '60s myth would be used to sucker the 16- to 30-year-old demographic. Woodstock '94 was seen as the ultimate musical sellout, the sort of thing that made Kurt Cobain leave this world riding on a shotgun blast. MTV, which televised some of the festival and launched a home-shopping show during it, ran an ad for its coverage with the slogan, “All you have to do to change the world is change the channel.”
Woodstock Suburb By Christopher John Farley. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,981316-1,00.html
simulacrum = A likeness; a semblance; a mock appearance; a sham.


but this starts looking like plain hard slog.


now we are getting into the crux of the matter.


a jingle he was taught in school.


Here's a little ditty that you really ought to know: horses sweat and men perspire, but ladies only glow.


One suspects that in Benny's case, patient and doctors failed to understand one another's priorities. Perhaps the boy felt his pain was not being taken seriously enough. Perhaps the medical team misread the young man's growing determination to choose his own fate. “Often when problems like this arise, there's a miasma of suspicion about families and how trustworthy they are,” says James Nelson, a medical ethicist at the Hastings Center in New York.
A Sick Boy Says "Enough!" By Christine Gorman. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980954-2,00.html
miasma = an unwholesome atmosphere; unhealthy vapors rising from the ground or other sources;


At heart, though, Aladdin and its kin were the merest, dearest emotional travelogues. They alighted on a dream here, a resentment there; they poked at a feeling until it sang a perky or rhapsodic Alan Menken tune. Nothing was lacking in these terrific movies, but something was missing: primal anguish, the kind that made children wet the seats of movie palaces more than a half-century ago as they watched Snow White succumb to the poison apple or Bambi's mother die from a hunter's shotgun blast. Disney cartoons were often the first films kids saw and the first that forced them to confront the loss of home, parent, life. These were horror movies with songs, Greek tragedies with a cute chorus. They offered shock therapy to four-year-olds, and that elemental jolt could last forever.
The Mouse Roars By Richard Corliss. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980941,00.html


The hero is Simba (voiced as a child by Home Improvement's Jonathan Taylor Thomas and as an adult by Matthew Broderick). This cub is the headstrong son of lion king Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and nephew of the green-eyed Scar (Jeremy Irons), who with oleaginous irony hides his intentions to kill Mufasa and Simba and become a low-down, schemin', lyin' king. After Scar engineers Mufasa's downfall in a wildebeest stampede, Simba slinks into exile and away from duty, until at the urging of his father's spirit and of his friend Nala (Moira Kelly), the young lion returns home to challenge Scar and renew the circle of dynastic life.
The Mouse Roars By Richard Corliss. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980941,00.html
oleaginous = belonging to the olive; Having the nature or qualities of oil; oily; unctuous; unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech.


Recently, in a laboratory outside Seattle, I ate a piece of buttered toast that I will remember for the rest of my life. The bread itself was not extraordinary, but it was spread thickly with the brightest-green butter I've ever seen. It was not true butter, but rather an extract of pure green peas. Fresh peas are blended to a puree, then spun in a centrifuge at 13 times the force of gravity. The force separates the puree into three discrete layers: on the bottom, a bland puck of starch; on the top, vibrant-colored, seductively sweet pea juice; and separating the two, a thin layer of the pea's natural fat, pea-green and unctuous.
Breakfast at Myhrvold's: Pea Butter, Drinkable Bagels, and Other Modernist Miracles By Paul Adams. @ http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-01/fifty-pound-cookbook-emerges-laboratory
unctuous = Of the nature or quality of an unguent or ointment; fatty; oily; greasy


Companies have also apologized for recent gaffes that Marge Schott might have appreciated, such as Radio Shack's putting out a video game with a swastika in it, or an American Airlines ground crew's ordering a change of pillows after a gay-rights group exited the aircraft. Once in a while, companies apologize to avoid a libel suit, as nbc did after it rigged a crash test so a General Motors pickup truck would be sure to explode.
On the Money How to Say You're Sorry By John Rothchild. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980929-1,00.html
gaffe = A socially awkward or tactless act.


In The Mask he plays Stanley Ipkiss, who puts an ancient mask on his face and is transformed from bank-clerk dweeb to zoot-suited superdude, genially terrorizing Edge City and winning the plushly encased heart of a gun moll (Cameron Diaz). The computer wizards at Industrial Light & Magic help alchemize this ragged film into a megamorphic extravaganza. But Carrey doesn't need any cybernetics or silicon to rubberize his limbs. He is his own best special effect, the first star who is a live-action toon.
World's Only Living Toon By Richard Corliss. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,981238-1,00.html
zoot-suit = A man's suit popular during the early 1940s, characterized by full-legged, tight-cuffed trousers and a long coat with wide lapels and heavily padded, wide shoulders. Zoot-suit.
genially = Gayly; cheerfully.
alchemize = alter by alchemy. Alchemy is a pseudoscientific forerunner of chemistry in medieval times. alchemy


he nixed it.
nix = To forbid, refuse, or veto: Congress nixed the tax hike.


with so many … on the market, how do you separate the gold from the dross.
dross = The scum or refuse matter which is thrown off, or falls from, metals in smelting the ore, or in the process of melting; Waste matter; any worthless matter separated from the better part.


For the past few weeks gossipists have been gumming that the seemingly cheery union between Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford is a sham.
gum = To smear with gum.
sham = False; counterfeit; pretended; feigned.


And when you gaze upon a Monet or call to mind a lilting line of verse, they bring you warmth.
lilt = having a light rhythmical cadence; a lilting melody.


Yes, membership had its privileges. For as little as $55 a year, consumers could twinkle in fellowship with such glitterati as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ella Fitzgerald and Meryl Streep. All one had to do was wave one's little piece of green, gold or platinum plastic, and waiters and clerks would fawn prettily. Such potent snob appeal once seemed irresistible — until American Express “cardmembers” began weighing the costs of privilege against the benefits of more plebeian credit cards. While the AmEx elite shelled out annual fees, Discover clients were issued free cards. Amex users had to pay their bills in full each month; savvy bank-card customers enjoyed revolving credit at modest interest rates. AmEx clients could brandish their cards in 3.7 million upscale establishments worldwide; Visa cards opened 11 million doors, MasterCard 12.3 million. Feeling decidedly underprivileged, 2 million AmEx users cut up their cards between 1991 and 1993 and went in search of better bargains.
Do You Still Know Me? By Jill Smolowe. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,981413,00.html
glitterati = Highly fashionable celebrities.


Frankly, with my heart palpitating, i'm seeing myself ready as the next offer to the Netiquette gods. What is it you say? Some people are just doomed? (all ye dark Gothic chicks, come out and succor me.)
Xah Lee, 2003-01, online forum


In the author's comparison of her book to an illegitimate ragamuffin, we may be struck by the details …
ragamuffin = a dirty shabbily clothed urchin. Older meaning: A paltry or disreputable fellow; a mean wretch.
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