Careful scrutiny of pleonasms & redundant phrases

I saw this handy list of pleonasms & redundant phrases. And what IS a pleonasm, you might very well ask?

Pleonasm (/ˈpliːənæzəm/, from Greek πλεονασμός pleonasmos from πλέον pleon “more, too much”) is the use of more words or parts of words than is necessary for clear expression: examples are black darkness, or burning fire. Such redundancy is, by traditional rhetorical criteria, a manifestation of tautology.

In this article, one can read George Carlin’s Department of Pleonasms and Redundancies.

But are all the words on the list that bad? I am going to make the case for keeping some of them, though NOT “three a.m. in the morning.” The inference, in most cases, is that by dropping one or more word, the sentence would be equally clear.
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Mom, 40 years ago: taking care from far away

trudy.pearlsAfter my sister Leslie and I left my grandmother in Charlotte, NC with my parents and my sister Marcia in January 1975, I went back to Binghamton, NY and stayed in my grandmother’s house. She had a coal stove, and I had SEEN her operate for years. But seeing and doing were two different things, and soon, the fire went out, and the pipes froze.

I was pretty depressed after the breakup of my marriage to the Okie, so I mostly watched television. I mean hours at a time. My grandma’s set got only one station, WNBF-TV, the CBS affiliate. So I watched the soap operas As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, Guiding Light, and Search for Tomorrow. Don’t remember watching any game shows except Match Game. Viewed the bulk of the CBS nighttime schedule, except perhaps the movies. And, heaven help me, I watched Continue reading Mom, 40 years ago: taking care from far away

Ruby Bridges: civil rights icon

rubybridgesHere’s the thing: there are so many iconic people in the Civil Rights movement that are etched in my brain that, sometimes, I forget they are not seared in everyone else’s. So during the month, I’m going to mention some folks you may have heard of, or possible not.

RUBY NELL BRIDGES, who turned 60 on September 8, 2014, was the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the American South. She attended William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana, starting in 1960. Ruby appeared on the cover of LOOK magazine, a very popular publication in the day, portrayed in this iconic picture by Norman Rockwell entitled The Problem We All Live With.

She notes: “Though I did not know it then, nor would I come to realize it for many years, what transpired in the fall of 1960 in New Orleans would forever change my life and help shape a nation. Continue reading Ruby Bridges: civil rights icon

A STAR WARS quiz

Star_Wars_001_1977This was completed by Jaquandor. I’m going to do it anyway!

1. Which film is your favorite of the Original Trilogy?

I’ll steal Jaquandor’s answer, in part: “The one that started it all, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I know, most people consider The Empire Strikes Back to be the greatest of the Star Wars films, but for me, it’s the first one that always has that special something, the one that took us into that amazing universe for the first time.” BTW, I HATE the retronym numbering and naming of the first film released.

2. If you enjoy the prequels, which one is your favorite?

I saw Episode 1 and was bored to tears. Never saw the other two. And while I wasn’t thrilled by Jar Jar, he wasn’t as offensive as I thought – or more likely, I was told beforehand how TERRIBLY offensive he was, and the actual wasn’t as bad as the anticipation.

3. How old were you when Episode 1 came out?

I was 46.

4. Which of the movies have you seen in the theater?

Four, five, six and one, i.e., every one I saw. I want to say I saw the original at the now-defunct FOX Theater in Colonie, NY, but have no idea about the others.

5. Did you go to any of them on opening night?

The original I saw MONTHS after it opened, but it was still playing first run. I doubt I saw any of the others opening night since the number of films I’ve seen opening night, or in preview numbers about five.

6. Who is your favorite character from the Original Trilogy?

Yoda. He’s green. And wise.

7. Who is your favorite character from the prequels, if you have one?

Obi Wan Kenobi.

8. Have you read any of the books or comics?
Continue reading A STAR WARS quiz

Songs: Who Drank My Beer (While I Was In The Rear) and Bargain Days (Half Off)

who drank my beer.chuckA few years back, I was musing about my father’s 45s record collection. For those of you too young, a 45 was a single vinyl record played on a “record player,” that had a turntable that rotated at 45 revolutions per minute.

For some reason, I was thinking about them again recently on a particular poor night of sleep (someone talking on speaker phone next door, two dogs barking, and a stiff neck from sleeping on the sofa to avoid the aforementioned, et al.)

Bill Carlisle and the Carlisles performing Bargain Days (Half Off) was released in 1955. You can listen to it HERE or HERE, and read the lyrics, written by Bill Carlisle, to boot. If I wanted to buy it on eBay, I probably could. The B-side was Nine Have Tried (and Nine Have Died), “and you’re gonna make it ten.”

As I noted previously, Dad also owned a version by someone performing Who Drank My Beer (While I Was In The Rear), written by a guy named Billy Austin, according to the label, though All Music attributes it to singer Dave Bartholomew. I didn’t know who performed it when I looked a few years ago, but I knew it wasn’t by Bartholomew [LISTEN], whose version is much bluesier; the one in my head was more country, and more comedic. It also was not the Tommy Duncan version [LISTEN].

I’m now positive that Dad’s 45 version was the one by Chuck Murphy from 1952, which you can LISTEN to, along with its B-side, Oceana Roll on CORAL 60800. The label was similar to the one shown, except it was orange. If I had any doubt, it was sealed when I heard the last line asking the bartender for “one on the house.”

None of the versions charted on either the pop charts or rhythm & blues charts, but I don’t have access to the country charts. Nor do I know which version, if any, was the original, though I’m guessing Bartholemew’s. This song has also been covered by Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan, and by Buster Poindexter. If any of you (meaning Dustbury) have any insight, I’d love to hear it.

C is for Canajoharie's Arkell Museum, featuring Beech Nut

beechnut ad.RockwellThe food manufacturer Beech-Nut has roots going back to 1891, “to the Mohawk Valley town of Canajoharie, New York,” about an hour northwest of Albany. A number of men, including Bartlett Arkell, “founded The Imperial Packing Co. with the production of Beech-Nut ham.”

The company was incorporated as the Beech-Nut Packing Company in 1899. In 1900, the company’s sales were $200,000. Engineers from Beech-Nut patented the first vacuum jar with a design that included a gasket and top that could remain intact in transit and became a standard of the industry.

During the first 25 years of the 20th century, the company expanded its product line into peanut butter, jam, pork and beans, ketchup, chili sauce, mustard, spaghetti, macaroni, marmalade, caramel, fruit drops, mints, chewing gum, and coffee.

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The Lydster, Part 130: Connect Four and Monopoly

connect-fourAn MIT Student Creates a Robot That Plays Connect Four for a Course Final. And it wins fairly often. But it’s not playing The Daughter, who beats me a good 2/3s of the time. For those of you unfamiliar, the goal is to get four of your checkers in a row, in any direction. (In the example, black has a Connect Four diagonally.) Continue reading The Lydster, Part 130: Connect Four and Monopoly

Behind the 8-ball

magic8ballOccasionally I get the darnedest questions at work. Someone wanted information about the toy The Magic Eight Ball, which used for fortune-telling or seeking advice,. It is apparently manufactured in China, and someone wanted to know if the number eight was selected – instead of seven or nine – because the number eight is considered lucky in China.

I found no evidence of that. I assumed it was developed from a billiards reference, which it appears to be. But it was interesting to read about the derivation of the term behind the eight-ball:

…a common idiom meaning to be in trouble, stymied or thwarted, in an awkward position or out of luck. Continue reading Behind the 8-ball