PENCHANT – TOO DULL FOR GROWN UPS

Penchant is one of those words I use, but only with people who like words. My husband, for example. Otherwise, I don’t use them much because so many people don’t recognize them. This one doesn’t count as a $20 word, though, because it only has two syllables. To be a truly, official, fancy word worth at least a $20, you need a minimum of three syllables and a sense that the origin was Latin or Greek, or perhaps, Polynesian.

From the “Smart Dictionary”

I was hoping to discover a trail of the past taking us into French, maybe. Penchant, with a French accent, might have sexual connotations.

Alas. Neither the American nor British dictionaries led me down through history to when this word meant “a small Gallic flag which flies over the war chief’s tent when he is making love to his mistress” or “silken under garments worn by the wife of the Count de Toulouse circa 1274.”

It merely means “a fondness or preference or liking” for this, that, or the other thing. Ho hum.

If we are going to have to write about vocabulary words — this is like one of those they put in Reader’s Digest’s “Improve Your Vocabulary” articles — make them more titillating. Sexier. Bring on the black silk underwear! This is not doing it for me.

Raunchy words! Yes! Bring them on!

FEELING A BIT VISCERAL?

There are several meanings to the word “visceral,” but only one seems something that has anything to do with me. That would be when the word is relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect. Like when Gibbs says he “feels in his gut his crime has not yet been solved.” That’s visceral.

Personally, it’s more how I feel about people in my world as in, “The voters’ visceral fear of change” (probably referring to how on earth we elected Trump). Or “An instinctual survival response,” that is, how come we have armed militias hiding in the hills of Idaho and Montana convinced they are going to be attacked by the gubmint.

I’m not especially visceral. I’m a thinker. A meandering mental worrier and more than a bit obsessive. I only get visceral if someone make me feel physically threatened or creepy … or the dogs don’t like him or her. Or the fish is bad.

I trust the dogs. Normally, they like everyone. If the canines think someone is worrisome, I trust the dogs.

Today is going to be The Day of the Door. Owen and Dave will be here shortly to get the installation started. Garry and I are fueling up on coffee. It’s will be a long, sticky day. I don’t know if I’m going to get back to the computer until very late, maybe this evening after the work is done.

If you don’t hear from me until a lot later … you know where I am.

Viscerally replacing our front door. Finally.

ALERT! TURKEY LEAKS SECRETS …

So I saw this headline:


Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S.
Troops in Syria


and I thought — “What a strange business. Turkeys don’t usually have media ties.”

It took me a few minutes to remember that Turkey is a nation and not necessarily a gobbling bird trying to avoid Thanksgiving. This probably speaks to my overall loss of sanity regarding the world in which I live. I’m pretty sure that in earlier days, I’d have instantly recognized Turkey as the nation and not the bird.

Sanity is gone. What is left is a sense of being desperately short of sleep, broke … and holding a list of things I need to fix that exceeds any rational likelihood of doing them. Ever.

What to do next?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had more reality than I can handle. I’m going to read a book. Take me away, magic words.

BUT WORDS CAN NEVER HURT YOU … BY GARRY ARMSTRONG

Marilyn recently wrote a piece using the word chutzpah which I’ve always badly mangled in pronunciation. It’s a word, what the heck? That was my take for many years until Robin Williams and Billy Crystal gave me a proper public whupping for butchering the pronunciation of chutzpah.  I don’t try to say Chutzpah in public anymore. It’s a word. I respect it because it carries different meanings and images.

These days, people often use words or phrases without understanding their origin or meaning. I hear political aspirants, celebrities, athletes and civic leaders say things that make me scratch my head and run back to my dictionary.  Words!  They can be powerful tools if used correctly. They can be dangerous if used in ignorance.

I grew up in a home full of books, including dictionaries. Big ones and pocket dictionaries. My parents insisted on using proper language and crisp diction.  Street slang guaranteed a head slap or a smack that stung. My two brothers and I were warned about using prejudicial clichés. Since my head has never been properly wrapped, I’ve been guilty of violating those warnings because of my warped sense of humor. Marilyn warns people that I have toys in the attic.  True.  Some of the toys are very old.

A friend and I were trading insults the other day. I snapped at him with, “That’s white of you”.  His smile said everything. Words!  You gotta know who, when, and where to use them.

Way back in olden times, I was 19 years old and worked in a department Store in Hempstead, New York. I was the only goy working in the children’s shoe department. I was waiting on a customer who drove me bonkers. I couldn’t take it anymore and told the parent he was a schmuck.

The manager quietly called me into the stockroom, explained what schmuck meant and asked me never to use it again — even if the customers were jerks. I think he was smiling although reprimanding me.  It was a word I’d often heard used in friendly banter, but I didn’t know its origin or real meaning. It was just a word. What was the big deal?  I was 19 and knew everything!  I used big words, “10 dollar” words to impress people. People often complimented me, saying I spoke very well.  I didn’t understand the veiled insult behind many of those compliments.

After all, they were just words.

John Wayne, of all people, once commented on words and ethics.  It was movie dialogue but still resonates more than half a century later.

In the 1961 film, “The Comancheros,”  Texas Ranger “Big Jake” Cutter (John Wayne) is lecturing his younger sidekick, Monsieur Paul Regret (Stuart Whitman). Regret asks Big Jake to spin a lie to his superiors to alleviate a problem. Big Jake refuses. Regret doesn’t understand, saying they are just “words.”

Big Jake, with that iconic Wayne frown, says softly, “Just words??  Words, MON-soor, are what men live by. You musta had a poor upbringing.”  Regret looks puzzled, not fully grasping the ethical code of this rough and ready Texas Ranger.  It’s a sublime moment and perfect for the young 1960’s when youth was defying the older generation’s moral code.

I recalled the scene years later in an interview with John Wayne. He smiled, shaking his head because he was in the middle of on-going national dissent against the Vietnam War.  Wayne was one of the most visible and vocal “hawks” in the Vietnam controversy. He had been ridiculed by strident protesters at a Harvard University gathering earlier that day.

“Words, dammit,”  Wayne looked at me, angry and sad. “My words! No damn Hollywood script. I have as much right as those damn college kids.”  Wayne was fuming. The Hollywood legend collected himself as I redirected the conversation to my time as a Marine. I had enlisted in 1959, fired up by the “Sands of Iwo Jima” script.

“Words. Good words,” I said to Wayne who smiled broadly.

Today, words are often tossed around loosely on social media, sometimes with little regard to truth or the repercussions of ill-advised words. We have a President who uses words without thought in a daily barrage of tweets.  Our media is engaged in a daily war of words, often ignoring crucial issues facing our nation and world.

Those of us of a certain age shake our heads as we watch young people immersed in tweets rather than direct conversation with friends in the same room. Words have become an endangered species.

I remember the good old days when me and friends went face to face with verbal jousts like “Your Mother wears combat boots!”

Words!  I love them.

MOXIE – IT’S REALLY חוצפה OR CHUTZPAH

Moxie is one of those words I haven’t heard in actual use in my lifetime. I’ve heard it in old British movies and some old American ones, mostly from the 1930s or 1940s, but it’s not what people say nowadays. In New York, if they don’t call it chutzpah, they would call it “nerve” or more accurately “noive” as in:


“Eh, buddy, you got a lot noive on youse.”


Another way to put it might be:


“That’s some set of balls ya got!”


This could as easily be referring to a woman as a man. Modernly speaking,”balls” is no longer an inherently masculine attachment. I’m pretty sure I’ve got bigger balls than a lot of guys and what do ya wanna make of it, eh?

The best word is truly chutzpah (חוצפה). You need a good solid guttural on the “Het” (ח) because it’s a sound the English language has no letters to express. Or, as we used to say back in that other country in which I lived:


“How’s your ח?


A good “het” (ח) is half a throat clearing with an “et” to follow and is where the letter “H” came from, before English lost its gutturals. Words like “knight” used to have a guttural and the GH was pronounced as (ח). Look it up. English was a Germanic language loosely mixed with Celtic (which has gutturals) and French, which probably had them, but lost them to that back of the tongue rolling R.

Chutzpah doesn’t merely mean (as per the dictionary) “the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage, or aggressive energy and initiative.” It also means a willingness to stand up to possible danger. To step out of your normal comfort zone and put it all out there and not care whether or not you offend someone. Although it is not necessarily offensive, it is definitely gutsy, determined, forthright, and assertive. And somehow, essentially Jewish.

You do you not need to be Jewish to display chutzpah but it helps. Some people are just like that. And being born and raised in New York or New Jersey could do the job and I’m sure there are lots of other places that have the right attitude.

It is an attitude, y’know? You got that?

So if you need to return that thing to the guy who did that other thing and you absolutely want your money back — no stupid restocking fees, either — moxie might do the job. But if you seriously need to get the job done?


Chutzpah. Gotta have it.


Trust me. I would never lie to you.

FROM SOARING TO COLOSSAL – THE THURSDAY SPECIAL

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: PICK A WORD IN JULY – Y2

It is the first week in July and it is time for another PICK A WORD theme.
Here are the words to choose from:

soaring

gaiety

prostrating

ephemeral

colossal


One soaring seagull

Gaiety?

Prostrate after a long, hard day

Ephemeral – snow falling

Colossal!

jupiter najnajnoviji