Thursday, May 19, 2011

I am the special news bulletin that interrupts your favorite show!

I am fascinated with words and routinely marvel at the descriptive power that they hold.  I Admit that I don't have the spelling skills that my mother and father were possessed with but that never stopped me from stretching my vocabulary as far as I could.  In my eagerness to use as many polysyllabic words as possible in my vernacular that I would often insert new words into sentences in places where they didn't belong drawing confused looks from those nearby.  

Sometimes I would get fairly obsessive about where the words come from or when they were first used which lead to some interesting facts that I could add to my ever increasing collection of useless information.  I briefly entertained the idea of studying linguistics but quickly realized that I didn’t carry the testicular fortitude* and eventually abandoned that idea, forever guaranteeing my amateur status in wordsmithing. 

Much of this behavior can be traced back to our parents  who loved to play scrabble and would frequently discuss the usage of a word.  I remember one moment quite clearly:  We were watching Macgyver when Pops says "What's a mote?"
"Huh?" we stammer as our attention is pulled from the magnificence of Richard Dean Anderson's mullets.
"What's a mote?" he repeated, as if no other explanation was necessary.
"I dunno."
"Well, 're' is a prefix that generally means to do again.  So if I have a remote, what is a mote and how can it be done again?"
"Shhh,  the commercial is over."
"Go get the dictionary."
"Because, I said so."
"But, Mac…."

What followed was a fairly intense conversation about the word and some ponderings as to why it was named such,  Macgyver  forgotten in the background. This was prior to the vast quantities of useless information available on the intertubes.  

I also found myself drawn to such cartoons that featured clever word play. Animaniacs was a favorite in the house, not only because of the silly sketches but they always featured an incredibly catchy tune (which I couldn't carry in a bucket) about subjects that I never would have thought possible to lyricize.  Who else would sing a song naming all the nations of the world? How bout the state capitals? Lake Titicaca I can understand but how the hell did they manage a song with all the US Presidents?

Darkwing Duck was another animated show that reveled  in the silly and had a surprising idiolect.  The Masked Mallard was a master alliterator and would often string 5 to 6 words together while performing his trademark "double reverse, paddle drop, boom, boom kick."

I think I am going to start a new blog that is similar to the many word of the day sites out there, except I will offer a challenge each day.  It will be something simple like using the word in a sentence just to amuse me.  The best entry will win some kind of fictional prize that the author can wear as a proud badge throughout the rest of their literary life. 

*My new favorite term


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