Posted in Did You Know ?, From The Editor's Desk, Language, Words

Language: Alumnus, Alumni, Alumna, and Alumnae

Today’s Lunchbox Lesson: ALUMNUS, ALUMNI, ALUMNA, and ALUMNAE

These words all describe attending or graduating from a particular school, but they differ in number and gender. Here’s how it works:

ALUMNUS: a singular noun referring to one male attendee
ALUMNI: a plural noun referring either to a group male attendees or to a mixed group of both male and female attendees (but not *only* female attendees)
ALUMNA: a singular noun referring to one female attendees
ALUMNAE: a plural noun referring to a group of only female attendees

Alumnus means “pupil,” or “nursling” in Latin. This is where it gets interesting! The Latin term for a former school is “alma mater,” meaning “nourishing mother.” Thus, an alumnus can be seen as the “nourished one/pupil” of the “nourishing mother,” the school.

These words are Latin “loanwords,” meaning they preserve their original forms when we use them. The difficulty arises because many Americans have not taken Latin, so they are unfamiliar with Latin forms (i.e. genders and plurals). As a result, the words are often used incorrectly.

One fairly popular trend is to avoid using these specific words altogether. Instead, the word ALUM is used for the singular and ALUMS is used for a group. These constructions avoid the possibility of using the Latin words incorrectly. It is considered acceptable for casual writing and conversation, but it is not acceptable (yet) for formal writing. It’s best if you can try to remember the Latin words — and you’ll look smarter too!

Posted in Around Town, Did You Know ?, research

Westward Ho: Ghost Signs in Omaha

In the days of Westward Expansion, before the freeways and highways were taking us places quickly, waves of migrants were inspired by the promises of cheap land and riches, due to the California Gold Rush in 1849 and the Homestead Act of 1862.

Before the interstate billboards, and neon signs, signs painted on bricks helped the businesses advertise their locations and wares. They’re also located on streetcar routes and where pedestrians were able to see them, in a slower time.

Ghost ads give us a glimpse into the past of our towns and cities, the history of the buildings, and that of the surrounding area as well.

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Baum Iron Company, Omaha, NE. Baum Iron sign is one of Omaha’s most recognizable ghost signs. The business, now Baum Hydraulics, was founded more than 150 years ago.  – photo courtesy of Omaha Magazine

Let’s take a stroll to Omaha, Nebraska. Yes, it was surprising to me to find out that Omaha is one of the main points for ghost advertisements, but after more research, I found out that Omaha served as the eastern terminus and outfitting center for pioneers headed to the west to find their fortune in the California gold fields or to settle available inexpensive land.

Did you know? “The fortunes of Omaha took a positive turn when President Abraham Lincoln selected Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the terminus of the Pacific Railroad, which was subsequently relocated on Omaha’s side of the Missouri River. Actual construction began in 1863, the first step in Omaha’s development into one of the nation’s largest railroad centers.” [1]

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On the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Eggerss O’Flyng building built around the turn of the century near rail lines in downtown Omaha. According to the city of Omaha’s Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission, “Omaha was a major distribution point for a wide variety of goods shipped by rail throughout the west and Pacific northwest.”  Photo courtesy of Waymarking.com

“’They have their own historic value,’ said Ruben Acosta, National Register coordinator at the Nebraska State Historical Society. ‘They oftentimes are one of the very few sources we have as to what businesses were in the building, or what type of economic activity occurred in the district.’

They illustrate the city’s role in the country’s westward expansion, as both a manufacturing center and a trade hub, where ‘jobbing’ wholesalers provided product for retailers throughout the region. And the number of signs for hotels, Acosta said, is evidence of the number of traveling salesmen who did business in Omaha.”[2]

Map of ghost signs of Omaha:

Maya Drozdz, a graphic designer in Cincinnati, says ““I love seeing old examples of graphic design ephemera. The signs were never intended to be permanent, and to see old ones gives me a context for the history of a given area. It gives me a little bit of insight into the kind of community that a neighborhood used to be, or the kind of businesses that used to populate it.”[3]

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Parmer Co. Coffees & Teas, est. 1907. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Interested in reading more? See Part One of the Ghost Ads series on my blog, “Off the Wall: Faded Ghost Ads“.

Do you know of more ghost ads in your cities? Let me know, you might spark some research and a blog post! Find me on Twitter @bookdoctordara.

Featured image of Bull Durham Chewing Tobacco and Butternut Coffee ghost sign courtesy of Omaha World-Herald.

 


1. City-Data: Omaha Furthers Westward Expansion

2. Barbara Soderlin. “Love Letters to the city’s past”. Omaha World-Herald. December 13, 2015

3. Bill Rinehart. Ghost signs: art or pollution? WVXU. January 16, 2015.

Posted in Did You Know ?, From The Editor's Desk

Flitch Day: Food History Today, July 19

In 1104, in the village of Little Dunmow, England a tradition started called Flitch Day. Today the event is celebrated every 4 years (next one 2020). On this day, a flitch of bacon (half a pig) is awarded to a married couple who can convince a mock jury that they do not regret their marriage.  In front of a jury of bachelors and maidens they had to take a pledge.

Here’s the pledge the couple had to take.

You shall swear by custom of confession,
If ever you made nuptial trangresssion,
Be you either married man or wife,
If you have brawls or contentious strife
Or otherwise, at bed or at board,
Offended each other in deed or word:
Or, since the parish-clerk said Amen,
You wish’t yourselves unmarried agen,
Or in a twelvemonth and a day,
Repented not in thought any way,
But continued true in thought and desire
As when you join’d hands in the quire.
If to these conditions, without all feare,
Of your own accord you will freely swear,
A whole gammon of bacon you shall receive,
And bear it hence with love and good leave;
For this is our custom at Dunmow well knowne,
Though the pleasure be ours, the bacon’s your own.

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Bacon image courtesy of Hip2Save

Learn more at: https://www.dunmowflitchtrials.co.uk/history/

Featured image courtesy of: British First Day Covers

Posted in Did You Know ?, Editor's Toolkit, From The Editor's Desk, Writing

Master Outlining & Tracking for your novel

I just finished editing the second novel in the Bayou Talents series for Edward Branley, Trusted Talents.  As I am wont to do after finishing edits, I take stock on how I can help my clients streamline the process and make it smoother.

TalentsCover

Trusted Talents has so *many* characters, I decided to try to create a spreadsheet to keep track of who they are, how they fit in the story, their quirks, their nicknames, and any other details that I think would be important, especially NAME CHANGES in the middle of the story.

Well, that got me down a rabbit hole pulling my hair out and drinking lots of coffee late at night (does no good for me when my HS Sophomore needs to be at zero period at 6:45 am and I get up at 5:15 am).  I am not an Excel expert by any means, I can do basic sum functions and that’s about it. So, cut to the next morning when I was more awake and able to focus. I used my Google-fu powers and found a few different Excel spreadsheets that did what I was looking for already and all I had to do was test them out and see if it worked well for me.

The one I wound up liking and using is from Iulian Ionescu of Fantasy Scroll’s “Master Outlining and Tracking Tool for Novels (MOTT) “.

I started with the tab labeled ‘Character List’ and page one of the Trusted Talents novel from Edward.  I input all the characters and the formulas that are built into the pages (Remember that I am NO Excel expert) was a lovely touch to make the spreadsheet fill out faster.

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Screenshot of Character List Tab

A couple things that I really liked was when I sorted by first name, you could see that there are way too many names starting with a certain letter, and how many characters have names that are similar (Davey, David).

I sent what I had worked on to Edward, to see what he thought, and he realized that Brooks Stirling Sumner (Silver)’s grandfather had two names in the novel. Remember up there when I said NAME CHANGES in the middle of the book? He was listed as both Robert Duncan Sumner and Grantland Sumner.

Now, I think of myself as being very attuned to that, but I admit even I missed that name change.  This set-up made it easier to fix and find the mistake with a global search and replace function in the master document.

I have started on Edward’s newest novel, Dragon’s Defiance (Book 3 in the Blood-Bound Series) and from first read, had a new spreadsheet set up to start on page 1. What a difference this will make in my editing, and my clients writings.  I highly recommend this.

I’ve only used the Character List tab at this time, but  I can see how much more you could do with this spreadsheet – from the Character Genealogy Tab  (one of my other passions on the side), to the Word Count Tracker (great for authors trying to hit a certain word count per day or per week to finish their novel), and the Scene List.

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Word Count Tracker courtesy of Iulian Ionescu

In the updated Version 2.0, which I just downloaded, there is the Cards Tab (sort of my old way of writing papers in high school and college with index cards delineating all the scenes/main ideas.) This one is automated, so if you use the Scene List, it pulls the information from that.

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Cards Tab

The Chapters Tab in Version 2.0 will give you a visual graph of how word count length and number of scenes per chapter.

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Chapter Words and Scene Count courtesy of Iulian Ionescu

I’m a firm believer if you have various tools and processes in place, it helps you focus on what you need to do, which is write! (Or in my case, EDIT!) Don’t be afraid to use tools that are already out there to make your process easier. One does not have to reinvent the wheel. You can tweak something that is created to match what you need.

Until next time… Don’t fear the red pen!

Posted in Architecture, Around Town

Architectural Tour of Paris: Centre Pompidou

 Fun Fact: When I was in Paris during my HS French trip (too many moons ago) I saw Michelle Lee (of Knots Landing fame) in front of the Centre Pompidou. That has always stuck with me, and is probably dating myself if you know how long ago that show was popular. Somewhere, buried deep in a box in my parents attic is the photo of her I took.

The thing that fascinated me about the Centre Pompidou when I saw it was the bright colors and how weird it was to have the air ducts, elevators, escalators, and pipe systems outside. Turns out… it was an architectural choice when it opened in 1977:   Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, and enabled them to create huge uncluttered space inside. You can see why it’s nickname is the “Inside-Out Building”.

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Four strong colours – blue, red, yellow and green – clothe the structure and enliven the façade, their use governed by a code laid down by the architects:

  • blue for circulating air (air conditioning)
  • yellow for circulating electricity
  • green for circulating water
  • red for circulating people (escalators and lifts)[1]

To find out more, see information pack on the architecture of the building.

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Place Georges Pompidou – 75004 Paris
Le Marais – 4e Arrondissement

If you go visit, you should find something else to do on Tuesdays, and May 1st, because Centre Pompidou is closed.

Fun Fact #2: The Place Georges Pompidou in front of the museum is noted for the presence of street performers, such as mimes and jugglers.

Did You Know? 

  • It is named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who commissioned the building.
  • A fifth floor room of the building featured as the office of Holly Goodhead in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, which in the film was scripted as being part of the space station of the villainous Hugo Drax. 

[1] https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/The-Centre-Pompidou/The-Building
Featured Image by © INSADCO Photography / Alamy
Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Science

Bonus: “Maunder Minimum”, Cartography, and Hevelius

Earlier this evening, I blogged about Cartography and the Moon, 1647 and Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687). While doing the research, I came across this image of Hevelius’ earliest drawing of sunspots. Since it wasn’t “Moon” related, my son, Jason ( check out his blog, “Jason’s Blog- Work in Progress”), said I should post it as a bonus feature. So, here it is!

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AN EARLY DRAWING of the Sun and sunspots by Johannes Hevelius. Here Hevelius shows the path and changes in sunspots that crossed the disk of the Sun between May 22 and May 31 in 1643 as they were seen in Danzig. – NASA

So, what is the “Maunder Minimum“? ” The number of sunspots observed on the solar surface varies fairly regularly, with an average period of 11-years. However, if we look at the variation of the sunspot number with time, we find that for a period of about 70 years, from A.D. 1645 to 1715, practically no sunspots have been observed. In other words, during this time the solar cycle has been interrupted. This period of time is called the Maunder Minimum.[1]

Did You Know?

In 1679 the English astronomer Edmond Halley visited Hevelius and compared the use of a sextant having telescopic sights with Hevelius’ sextant with open sights. Hevelius showed that he could determine stellar positions about as accurately without a telescope as Halley could with one.

[1] https://www.cora.nwra.com/~werne/eos/text/maunder.html

 

Editor’s Note: Featured image The Photosphere and Sun-spots is by S.P. Lngley | The Photosphere and Sun-spots | Popular Science Monthly, vol. 5 (September 1874)

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Science

Cartography and the Moon, 1647

This Old Map…

In 1647, Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius published the Selenographia sive Lunae Descriptio (Selenography or the description of the moon). [Ed Note: Selenography is named after the Greek moon goddess Selene[1].]

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Johannes Hevelius – via Encyclopedia Brittanica

Historian of astronomy Albert Van Helden explains:

In Selenographia he presented engravings of every conceivable phase of the Moon as well as three large plates of the full Moon: one of the ways the full Moon actually appeared through the telescope, one the way a maker of terrestrial maps might represent it (using the conventions of geographers), and one a composite map of all lunar features illuminated (impossibly) from the same side.[2]

 

MPC1-vintage-map-moon

Hevelius’ lunar map  influences astronomy, cartography, and navigation to this day by introducing us to longitudinal lines, necessary during the Age of Discovery when navigators had to figure out the difference between their local time and a distant reference point (the moon). They needed “a composite view that pictured the Moon in a way it never appeared in reality but was accurate in its placement of individual features,” Van Helden writes.[3]

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Selenographia. Observations of the Moon.

Did you know?

A large crater on the western edge of the Ocean of Storms is named after Hevelius?

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Hevelius Crater – NASA

 

Editor Note: If you enjoyed this Cartography post, check out the first in the series, Cartography and World Building.   Let me know what else you’d like to see…

[1] https://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Selene/selene.html

[2] https://cnx.org/contents/t7AGYlN-@4/The-Moon

[3] https://cnx.org/contents/t7AGYlN-@4/The-Moon

Posted in Around Town, Did You Know ?

New Orleans, Manhole Covers, and Hotels (NOPSI)

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Baronne & Union Streets. Image courtesy of NOPSI Hotel

You may be saying, okay, the Book Doctor needs Coffee (you’d be right!).  What is she talking about, and what does a manhole cover and hotel have to do with New Orleans?

I was doing some research for a GoNOLA article coming out on the New Orleans Public Service Inc (NOPSI) history and the current iteration of the NOPSI hotel that opened in June 2017. A couple of tidbits caught my eye, and since the GoNOLA article is more tourism-based than deep research, I had to post the extras of what I found here.

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New Orleans Public Service Incorporated Building – 1920 Via Franck-Bertacci Photographers Collection. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Digital Library

Did you know?

Back before full electricity, there was a city ordinance in New Orleans that everyone had to carry lanterns. Gas Lighting came to New Orleans in 1824 with James Caldwell and the American Theater.

 

nopsi-hotel-new-orleans
Front of NOPSI Hotel, courtesy of NOPSI Hotel

Centrally located near the French Quarter and the Warehouse District, the 1920s-Jazz era NOPSI building that was tantamount for your electricity, transportation, and streetcar headquarters has been renovated to the NOPSI hotel at 317 Baronne Street.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, and was declared a historic landmark by the Historic District Landmarks Commission in 2011.

The hotel has aesthetic lines that are reminiscent of days past, with the building’s street facades, cast iron rails, and stone panels. The lobby counters are where the customers used to pay their bills.

And, coming full circle (Ed Note: ha!) the circular logo of the hotel is inspired by the manhole covers (look down) on the streets of Crescent City.

 

nopsifeature

 

NOPSI Manhole Cover featured image courtesy of  http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/nopsi/interesting/
Posted in Word Wednesday

Word Wednesday: Finifugal

Finifugal

Pronunciation

adjective | [fan’ee-fyoo-gal]

Definition

Hating endings; of someone who tries to avoid or prolong the final moment of a story, relationship, or some other journey  … Oh, Never Mind.

Etymology

Your Latin Lesson:

fini-s:  end
+ fug-a:   flight
+ -al

Did You Know?

Quotation
1883 A. Tollemache in Jrnl. Educ. 1 Sept. “In modern as well as in ancient times, the finifugal tendencyis apparent.”

For Further Reading

Mark Forsyth’s 11 Weird Words/Phrases You Should Be Using

 

 

Posted in book lists, Books

IMO… 12 Black Authors Everyone Should Read

A friend posted about a novel quiz he took and realized that he didn’t know any of the Black Authors. He asked for suggestions as to what he should read.  This got me thinking, and I thought I would share my reply. Bear in mind, this is MY OPINION. Let me know in the comments below of any that you recommend.

Richard Wright’s Black Boy and Native Son.


Frederick Douglass’ memoir, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

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Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

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James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain and Notes of a Native Son (set during the civil rights movement)


Octavia Butler’s Kindred

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W.E.B Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folks

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

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Alex Haley’s Roots, The Saga of an American Family and The Autobiography of Malcolm X


Langston Hughes’ Not without laughter

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Did you know? The play A Raisin in the Sun by playwright Lorraine Hansberry was named for a line from a Langston Hughes poem.

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Harlem
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 

Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God 

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Toni Morrison’s Beloved

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BONUS:
Ta-Nehisi Coates is an editor and writer for The Atlantic. I mentioned him in my Just the Facts… About Fact-Checking blog post.

Also … Both Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison are mentioned in my Literary Arts Postage Stamp series of posts on the blog. Feel free to go take a look at them.

For Further Reading:

10 Black Authors Everyone Should Read by PBS.org. This has little biographies and blurbs on most of the authors I listed above, and a few that I didn’t know about.

22 Contemporary Authors You Absolutely Should be Reading by Isaac Fitzgerald

Posted in Books, Chained Libraries

The Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral

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As a history major in undergrad, and a book lover for more years than I care to count, finding the notice on Chained Libraries on Atlas Obscura tickled my fancy.  I’ve officially added a ton of places to go visit on my bucket list now –Sorry, Hubby!   The below information comes directly from the Hereford Cathedral website, as who better to describe what is there than the curators of the Library themselves? If, one day I actually get to see this in person, I’ll be sure to re-blog and tell you my own personal thoughts. Until then… Happy exploring.


The Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral is a unique and fascinating treasure in Britain’s rich heritage of library history.

There were books at Hereford Cathedral long before there was a ‘library’ in the modern sense.

The cathedral’s earliest and most important book is the eighth-century Hereford Gospels; it is one of 229 medieval manuscripts which now occupy two bays of the Chained Library.

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Hereford Gospels (detail) courtesy of Hereford Cathedral Library and Archives

This is the oldest complete book in Hereford Cathedral Library. It dates from around the year 800 AD and may be the earliest surviving book made in Wales. It contains the first four books of the New Testament: the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These narratives of the life, death and resurrection of Christ are regarded by Christians as their most precious and sacred writings.
Chaining books was the most widespread and effective security system in European libraries from the middle ages to the eighteenth century, and Hereford Cathedral’s seventeenth-century Chained Library is the largest to survive with all its chains, rods and locks intact.

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Hereford Gospels (detail) courtesy of Hereford Cathedral Library and Archives

A chain is attached at one end to the front cover of each book; the other end is slotted on to a rod running along the bottom of each shelf. The system allows a book to be taken from the shelf and read at the desk, but not to be removed from the bookcase.

The books are shelved with their foredges, rather than their spines, facing the reader (the wrong way round to us); this allows the book to be lifted down and opened without needing to be turned around – thus avoiding tangling the chain.

There is an interactive website you can take a 360-degree tour of the library.

Did You Know?

There has been a working theological library at the cathedral since the twelfth century, and the whole library continues to serve the cathedral’s work and witness both as a research centre and as a tourist attraction.

The Chained Library has about 1500 books which date from the late fifteenth- to the early nineteenth-centuries. Fifty-six of them are incunabula, i.e. books printed before 1500. They are chiefly concerned with theology, biblical studies, law and church history.

Have you been to Hereford Cathedral and seen the Chained Library in person? Tell me in the comments, or on my twitter page .

Stay tuned for more on unique and amazing libraries around the world!

Posted in Language, Literary Arts Series, Literature, Words, Writing

Give A Lick: Literary Postage Stamps – Humorists Ogden Nash and James Thurber

What is the connection between Ogden Nash and James Thurber? Besides both being humorists, they published at The New Yorker during the same time period. In 1930, Nash’s first poem “Invocation” was published January 11.  Did you know Nash contributed 329 poems to The New Yorker between 1930 and 1971?

Meanwhile, the magazine ran a drawing by James Thurber for the first time in the February 22, 1930 issue. E. B. White had rescued Thurber’s doodles from being discarded, and encouraged the writer to publish his art work.

Ogden Nash 37¢
(1902-1971)

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Issue Date: August 19, 2002
City: Baltimore, MD
Quantity: 70,000,000

American humorist and poet Ogden Nash wrote light-hearted, whimsical, and sometimes nonsensical verse. He often used an extremely large poetic license to create comical rhymes and puns. Ogden Nash is the 18th honoree of the Literary Arts Series.

An interesting couple of notes about the Ogden Nash stamp. It is the first time the word ‘Sex’ has appeared on a stamp; and probably also is the first time a limerick has appeared on a U.S. stamp.

U.S. Postal Service chief stamp developer Terry McCaffrey told CBSNews.com he expects to get complaints about “sex,” which is included in the six Nash poems in the background of the design: “The Turtle,” “The Cow,” “Crossing The Border,” “The Kitten,” “The Camel,” and “Limerick One.”

Nash poked fun at human foibles without cynicism. He wrote on many subjects, but all of his poems expressed his wry wit and demonstrated his playfulness with language. “I’m very fond of the English language. I tease it, and you tease only the things you love,” Nash reportedly said. He invented words and used puns, creative misspellings, irregular line lengths and unexpected rhymes to make his verse humorous and memorable. Because of his unique style, many consider Ogden Nash to have been one of the most accomplished American writers of light verse in the 20th century.

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times in 1969, Nash complained about stamps that would not stick to envelopes. He lamented, “The Post Office should supply a roll of Scotch tape with every 100 stamps, but mine won’t even sell me one. I’d like to go back to where I came from: 1902.”

Nash considered himself a ‘worsifier’. One of the most universally known verses is: “Candy is dandy/but liquor is quicker.” Others include: “If called by a panther, / Don’t anther,” and “In the vanities / No one wears panities.”

Did you know? Nash’s great-great-grandfather was governor of North Carolina during the Revolution, and that ancestor’s brother was General Francis Nash, for whom Nashville, Tennessee, was named.

James Thurber 29¢
(1894-1961)

James Thurber

Issue Date: September 10, 1994
City: Columbus, OH
Quantity: 150,750,000

One of the most popular humorists of his time, James Thurber celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.  In Thurber-Land, the men are often sad, bewildered, and inept; the women are fierce and determined; and their dogs are indifferent to men a women alike, and are immersed in a fantasy world of their own.  Thurber is the author of The Secret Life of Walter Mittywhich portrays an oversensitive man who escapes from his nagging wife through his daydreams and the creator of numerous New Yorker magazine cover cartoons.  Writing nearly 40 books, he won a Tony Award for the Broadway play, A Thurber Carnival, in which he often starred as himself.

One of his books, My World and Welcome To It, was turned into an NBC television series in 1969-1970 starring William Windom. My World and Welcome To It, won best Comedy Series and Windom won Best Actor in a Comedy Series at the 1970 Emmys.

Thurber spent much time in and about the Algonquin Hotel in New York City.  Though never a formal member of the Algonquin Round Table, he was a favorite among many of its members including, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.

Thurber is the 11th honoree of the Literary Arts series. Read his “The Art of Fiction” interview the Paris Review by George Plimpton and Max Steele.

Did You Know?  As a child, Thurber’s brother shot him in the eye with an arrow during a game of William Tell. James Thurber lost his left eye, and the incident left his vision permanently impaired.


For the rest of the Give A Lick: Literary Arts series of blog posts, check out Dorothy Parker and John Steinbeck, as well as Flannery O’Connor and Ralph Ellison.


For Further Reading & Source Material: 

A New Yorker Timeline

Eighty-five from the archive: Ogden Nash

PR Wire “Literary Arts series Continues with Issuance of Ogden Nash stamp”
*Note: The cool thing about this link is that it shows you the full verses of poems used on the Ogden Nash stamp.

Poetry Foundation / Ogden Nash

Thurber House

Ten Facts about Caldecott Winner , James Thurber

Thurber Prize for American Humor 
*Note: The Thurber Prize for American Humor is the nation’s highest recognition of the art of humor writing. 

 

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2009 Richard Wright Postage Stamp courtesy of USPS

The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.

– Richard Wright
Native Son (1940)

 

Many writers do feel the urge to write about what they see, what they know, what they’ve experienced, capturing the writer’s zeitgeist.   Are you writing about your experience or are you more interested in your imagination’s ability to create new worlds?

Born September 4, 1908 in Roxie, Mississippi, Wright came from a family of sharecroppers in the Jim Crow South.  He was the 25th inductee into the Postal Service’s Literary Arts series. Best remembered for his controversial 1940 novel, Native Son, and his 1945 autobiography, Black Boy, Wright drew on a wide range of literary traditions, including protest writing and detective fiction, to craft unflinching portrayals of racism in American society. Wright died in Paris on November 28, 1960.

‘Words Can Be Weapons Against Injustice’

Did you know? 

Wright’s Native Son was the first best-selling novel by a Black American writer. It was also the first Book-of-the-Month Club selection by an African-American writer.

Native Son sold 215,000 copies within three weeks of publication. The book made Wright the wealthiest Black writer in America at that time.

For further reading:

Joe Bunting’s Do You Write from Experience or Imagination? 

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Quote of the Day: Richard Wright

Posted in Language, Word Wednesday

Word Wednesday: Qualtagh

Qualtagh

Pronunciation

noun | Kwol-tog

Definition

The first person one meets (either leaving or entering their house) after the start of the New Year.

Etymology

Qualtagh is from a form of Gaelic known as Manx.  It is spoken on the Isle of Man, a Literally the word qualtagh means “first foot”, as in the first person to set foot in the house on New Year’s Day, or the first person one met when they set foot outside on New Year’s Day.

In order to be the “first foot”, one cannot have been present in the house at the stroke of midnight.  So being there and then going outside and coming back in  does not make one the Qualtagh of the place.

It may also be used to refer to the first person a woman encounters after being confined to her house following the birth of a child.

Did You Know?

The new year’s qualtagh, for luck, is supposed to be a dark-haired man. A red-headed or female qualtagh is unlucky. Other things to bring luck to the house on New Year’s Day include serving black-eyed peas, having the qualtagh bring shortbread and whiskey (sounds fine for any day of the year), and sweeping all the garbage in the house out through the front door before midnight on New Year’s Eve (so that any of the misfortune of the past year is gone, not to return).

In Greece, the “first foot” is referred to as the Pothariko (pothari-KO).  Their right foot needs to be the first one to cross the threshold, and they bring pomegranates to throw on the floor for good luck.

From Folklore of the Isle of Man, A.W.Moore, 1891
http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/fulltext/folklore/ch06.htm
http://greeceandmore.blogspot.com/2012/01/pothariko-first-foot-or-first-step-one.html
Posted in Word Wednesday

Word Wednesday: Sesquipedalian


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Sesquipedalian

Pronunciation

adjective | ses·qui·pe·da·lian \ˌses-kwə-pə-ˈdāl-yən\

Definition

  1. Having many syllables
  2. given to, or characterized by the use of long words

 Etymology

mid 17th century: from Latin.

Horace, the Roman poet known for his satire, was merely being gently ironic when he cautioned young poets against using “sesquipedalia verba”-“words a foot and a half long”-in his book Ars poetica, a collection of maxims about writing. But in the 17th century, English literary critics decided the word sesquipedalian could be very useful for lambasting writers using unnecessarily long words.

Your Latin Lesson:

Latin sesquipedalis, literally, a foot and a half long

from sesqui- “half as much again”
+ ped-, pes “foot”

Did You Know?

Words that Rhyme with Sesquipedalian: Episcopalian, tatterdemalion, Australian, bacchanalian.

A sesquiquadrate is an 135-degree angle.

A sesquicentennial is a period of 150 years.

A sesquinona in music, is an interval having the ratio or 9:10—that is, a lesser major second.

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Sesquipedalian cartoons © Mickey Bach Word-A-Day