Category Archives: word-play

What your (more) liberal friends are upset about now

As a progressive/liberal/leftist, I admit to succumbing to progressive click-bait, especially on social media, and lists are no exception.  As Buzzfeed well knows, online lists have become a genre of their own.  But these heartwarming stories of the underprivileged overcoming the odds, these copious lists of dos, don’ts, and “myths we need to stop spreading” can quickly lead down rabbit holes of discord.  No sooner does a “feel-good” story go viral than the backlash begins, followed by the backlash against the backlash.  I admire and support the whistle-blowers, the dreamers, the civilly disobedient, and the idealists.  But (you knew there was a but) it sometimes feels like us lefties can never be content or take a brief moment to rejoice in a small bit of progress until everyone in the world is perfectly happy, equally represented, and completely conflict-free.  So I’ll save all my left-leaning friends the trouble of reading their Twitter and Facebook feeds as I share a new list…

11 Things Your Even-More-Liberal Friends Are Riled Up About Now:

  1. Cards Against Humanity

  2. Stealth gluten

  3. Pumpkin spice hegemony

  4. Robot gender binary (why are 0 and 1 the only two options?)

  5. BPA-free condoms

  6. Lumbersexual cultural appropriation

  7. Trigger warnings for Lamisil commercials (unexpected anthropomorphic toenail fungus is truly traumatic!)

  8. Muffintop removal

  9. NSA Headquarters won’t let visitors check in on FourSquare

  10. Upworthy fails to equally represent the experiences of America’s Pessimists

  11. Bernie Sanders: why has he not yet spoken out in support of introverts?

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death by misadventure

It’s official: it wasn’t an overdose
of solitude, like Elvis.
The Coroner’s report,
as reported by BBC radio,
confirmed that Amy Winehouse
died a “death by misadventure.”
In her blood, they found five times
Britain’s “drink driving” limit.
In America, we reduce everything to acronyms
then turn those letters into verbs.
She “O.D.”ed.
But why not “oded”?
She sang an ode to addiction
or addiction was her ode.
It wasn’t suicide, exactly.
Wasn’t quite on purpose, nor an accident.
Wasn’t the ironic effects of withdrawal.
A life, more than a death, by misadventure,
an adventure slightly gone awry.
And there’s enough blame
to go around the world for this one.
We all knew the cause already
we just didn’t have a name for it.

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Métro Tisséo

Oh her voice used to dance
on the metro in Toulouse when she said:
Saint-Cyprien République
with a Parisian push on the “que.”

A few stops after Capitole and Esquirol
but before Arènes, Bagatelle, Reynerie.

Later, she started speaking Occitan:
Santus Cyprianus Republicanus.
A Romanesque word had to be invented
for the sake of modernizing a dead language
for the station named after the Toulousain
Tony Bennett, the local crooner Claude Nougaro.
Claudus Nougarus she said
as if she didn’t quite get the joke
in an Astérix comic strip.

The Manhattan mumblings on the Metro North–
today Jamaican, tomorrow the Bronx–
leave your head buzzing at each station,
unsure where static unravels into human sound.
Jolted from a dangerous, helpless nap,
you squint into the darkness for a sign:
Harlem, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Rye.

Oh for the automated simplicity
of the metro de Toulouse! For the snobbish
way the disembodied subway fairy godmother
used to say: Marengo-SNCF.

So precise, so clear. You always knew
exactly where you were in the darkness.
You always hoped that one day, you would
pronounce a word as perfectly as she said

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french word of the day: arnacoeur

A student came to the library today looking for the film “L’Arnacoeur.”  You’ll notice that on IMDB the English title is “Heartbreaker.”  Considering the premise (“Alex and his sister run a business designed to break up relationships. They are hired by a rich man to break up the wedding of his daughter. The only problem is that they only have one week to do so.”)  Heartbreaker is not a bad translation of the title.  Or is it?

When the student showed me the title of this movie, scribbled on her hand, it sounded weird to me.  To understand why, you need to know that there’s this French part of my brain that activates abruptly at the slightest hint of a francophone syllable.

“Really?  I thought it was spelled with a  Q?”  thought the French half of my brain.

Actually, I always thought it was harnaqueur for some reason, adding an H in my mind as in Harlot or Hawker (but of course the H would be silent, I reasoned, in French). I’d only ever heard this word pronounced by my husband when he was angry with someone for ripping him off.  I’d never seen it written down.  After the student left, I went to my favorite online French-English dictionary, wordreference. As I suspected, arnacoeur is not a word– or as my professors in France were fond of saying, “Ce n’est pas du francais.”  (This is not French.)

L’arnacoeur is a pun.  It’s a combination of “arnaqueur” (meaning scam artist, swindler) and “coeur” (meaning heart).  Alex and his sister are not accidental  heart breakers, they’re heart swindlers.  A whole nuther level of bad karma.

Of course Heartswindlers doesn’t have the same ring.  It doesn’t sound like another English word.  Arnacoeur and arnaqueur are homophones in French.  Eh alors, traduire c’est trahir.  To translate is to betray.word image

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quotes bouncing around my day

“A book commits suicide every time you watch Jersey Shore.” -poster on a librarian’s facebook page

“Ok class, take a break and think deeply about real rapists and perverts.” -Instructor of a Women’s Self Defense class I happened to walk in on.

“The Blues is the folk music of Black people. Jazz comes from the Blues.  You can’t play jazz without the Blues.  That’s all there is to it.”  -Musician in a PBS Documentary called “Cab Calloway: Sketches.”

“If your musicians are good, you don’t need to say anything.  And if they’re bad, there’s nothing you can say.”  -Attributed to Cab Calloway

“Home is a group of people who miss the same imaginary place.” -Garden State.

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Worst question for a writer: “What do you write?”

Worst question for a nomad: “Where are you from?”

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