Wednesday, April 20, 2011



This puzzle is called Movin' On Up /Down One Step At a Time because in each set of clues the answer sought for the word on the right contains only one letter different from the one on the left and that letter follows it in the alphabet. For example if the clues for A-B were “deep sleep” and “hair utensil” the answers would be “coma” and “comb” as B comes after A in the alphabet. The changed letter can be found anywhere in the word, so if the clues for C-D were “cost” and “deadly sin” the respective answers would be “price” and “pride.”

number of letters

in answer


A-B get out of vehicle destructive force 6

B-C tough guy police car 7

C-D fruit of the oak tree embellish 5

D-E marriage garden chore 7

E-F incumbent's victory mirror view 10

F-G live as a parasite on eat 6

G-H Greek marketplace Spanish for “soon” 5

H-I cored felt sorry for 6

I-J metrical foot side post of a doorway 4

J-K high, e.g 60s rock band 5

K-L irritable tangled 6

L-M overzealous barber? playful run 7

M-N mortal Chinese province 5

N-O loony bin breezy restroom 8

O-P rescuers simplex or zoster 6

P-Q ringing metallic sound Chinese dynasty 4

Q-R Ont. neighbor regret 3

R-S type of vulture apartments 6

S-T ugly criminal residence 7

T-U groin area bend down low 6


U-V worth butterfly or check 5

V-W pushing display 7

W-X former Knicks star deleting 5

X-Y linseed source flog 4

Y-Z Spanish beach Spanish square 5

Z-A worthless person prostitute 4

Thursday, April 14, 2011

brave new words of the third millennium

Arts &
Arts Culture Analysis
Vol. 10, No. 2, 2011

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Robert J. Lewis
Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
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David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Serge Gamache
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Mady Bourdage
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Noam Chomsky
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Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somverville
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Michael Moore
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Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward
Howard Richler
Howard Richler is the author of several books on language including The Dead Sea Scroll Palindromes, Take My Words and Strange Bedfellows: The Private Lives of Words. He also publishes a blog.
Since 1990, the American Dialect Society has paid homage to the most sublime creations of each year: the new and popular words and phrases that grace our lexicon. The words of the year have included “metrosexual” (2003), “subprime” (2007) and “tweet” (1998). Many other words from the computer age have featured prominently in categories such as “most useful” and “most likely to succeed:” “blog” (2004), “google” (2002) and the prefix “cyber” (1994).
My favourite neologisms, however, deal with irreverent new usages as listed by the American Dialect Society. Here, in alphabetical order, are examples from the most ‘euphemistic’ and most ‘outrageous’ categories.
Badly sourced – Employed by Colin Powell and others to mean “false.”
Bumper Nutz – Fake testicles hung from the rear end of a vehicle.
Cliterati – Feminist or woman-oriented writers or opinion leaders.
Controlled flight into terrain – Defined as a “crash with a good pilot and a good plane.”
Crotchfruit – A term designating a child or children. This expression seems to have been inspired by the term “fruit of one’s loins” and began as a word used by proponents of child-free public space, but has since been adopted by some parents as a jocular term for their offspring.
Extraordinary rendition – The deportation to a country that might receive a person unkindly through the use of torture or other unpleasantries.
Fish pedicure – A cosmetic procedure in which fish eat the dead skin off the feet.
Food insecure – Said of a country where the people are starving.
Florida flambé – Fire caused by Florida electric chair.
Gate rape – Pejorative term for the invasive new airport pat-down procedure.
Grid butt – Marks left on the buttocks by fishnet pantyhose.
Holistic practitioner – A prostitute.
Internal nutrition – The force-feeding of prisoners against their will.

Jesusland – The country which will be the rump USA after the blue democratic states have seceded and joined Canada.

Muffin top – The bulge of flesh hanging over the top of low-rider jeans.
Partner reduction – Divorce or severing of a romantic relationship.
Pre-emptive self-defense – An attack made before a possible attack. Scooping technician – Person whose job it is to pick up dog poop.
Sea kittens – Fish, as coined by PETA.
Starter marriage – A first marriage not expected to be the last, akin to a starter home.
Sudden jihad syndrome – An outburst of violence from a seemingly stable and normal Muslim.
Symmetry failure – Surgery performed on the wrong side of the body, as in, “OMG, they took out the wrong kidney!” Otherwise known as wrong-site surgery.
Thought showers – This term was coined by a British city council because the synonym brainstorming was said to be offensive to epileptics.
Torture-lite – Characterization of American treatment of prisoners of war; torture short of blatant bodily harm.
Transfer tube – A container or the transfer of a corpse, previously referred to as a body bag.
Truthiness– While Pontius Pilate asked Christ Quod est veritas?, two millennia hence one might ponder “What is truthiness?” In its 16th annual Word of the Year vote, the American Dialect Society voted truthiness as the word of the year. This term was popularized on the Colbert Report, and refers to the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true. As Stephen Colbert put it, “I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart.”
Unorthodox entrepreneur – A panhandler, drug dealer or prostitute in a Vancouver park.
Whizzinator – A trademarked urinating device using a realistic prosthetic penis and synthetic urine in order to pass a drug test.
The word of the year festivities for 2010 were held in Pittsburgh on Jan 7th and the winning word was “app,” the abbreviated form of “application,” a software program for a computer or phone operating system.

BENEFIT CONCERT FOR HAITI, SALLE GESU, JAN. 20TH (Papa Groove, Ariane Moffatt, Bïa, Kodiak, Echo Kalypso, Doriane Fabrig (ex-Dobacaracol), Claude Lamothe, Ian Kelly, Pépé: Box-office 514.861.4036 = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices
Film Ratings Page of Sylvain Richard, film critic at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
Montreal World Film Festival
Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 10-21st, (514) 844-2172
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Monday, April 4, 2011


(An abridged version of this article appeared in the National Post on April 4th.)

The lex of electile dysfunctionality


Howard Richler

On March 26th the writ was dropped and to paraphrase Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest “To drop one writ may be regarded as unfortunate, to drop two in five years looks like carelessness.” Actually, no writ is dropped ; writs of election are issued, and the sense of drop is idiomatic as in “drop a line.”

Another etymology that is surprising is the term “riding.” Only in Canada is an electoral district referred to by this term but we have to look to Yorkshire, England for the word's provenance. One would suppose that the term has something to do with the verb “to ride” but such is not the case. Until 1974, Yorkshire was divided for administrative purposes into three ridings and the key word here is “three.” The word riding came into English in the 15th century from Old Norse thrithjungr, “third part” and was originally rendered in English as “trithing.”

Just as “riding” is not connected to “ride” the word candidate is not related to the candid nature of those seeking office. If candidates were etymologically correct, they would wear white clothes as the word derives from the Latin candidatus, “dressed in white.” In ancient Rome is was the custom for those standing for election in the Senate to don white togas probably in an attempt to convince the populace they were as pure as snow.

Another word that only appears during an election is “hustings,” and as we know candidates are prone to hitting them during campaigns. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines “hustings” as “The political campaigning leading up to an election, e.g., canvassing votes and making speeches.” The word was originally rendered in the singular and literally means “house thing” but “thing” originally had the sense of “meeting” or “assembly,” and these council meetings would be called by a lord or king and attended by his particular “house.” Over time “husting” acquired other specific meanings such as a court of law in the Guildhall in London and a platform on which candidates stood to address the electorate. In the 20th century “hustings” has come to refer to the general hullabaloo created during an election campaign.

When you cast your ballot, you might take solace that although riding doesn't derive from ride, ballot does come from “ball” as we borrowed the word from the Italian ballotta, “little ball.” In days of yore, people often voted by dropping little balls into a receptacle. The first OED citation of the word in 1561 states: “Boxes into whiche if he wyll, he may let fall his ballot, that no man can perceiue hym.” Related to “ballot” is the idea that since a white ball often meant a “yes” vote and a black ball designated a “no” vote, the term blackball came to refer to exclusion from a club in the late 18th century.

By the way, if you happen to believe that politicians are crooks, it might be because you somehow intuited that etymologically the word “Tory” is associated with thievery. According to the OED, the original sense of Tory, “In the 17th century, {was} one of the dispossessed Irish, who became outlaws, subsisting by plundering and killing the English settlers and soldiers.” Lest you find this anti-Irish, you can take small comfort from knowing that the OED points out that within a decade the word's banditry label was extended to other races, such as Scottish Highlanders. It quickly became a term to refer to any Irish Papist and by the middle of the seventeenth century the word was often used by British commentators as a synonym for “bandit.” Through a process of major political flip-flopping over the years, this term originally referring to brigands came to refer to those who vigorously supported the Crown.

Now that you're lexically prepared, don't neglect to follow the dropping of the writ and vote for the candidate in your riding by dropping the ball for the party who might be Tory, but certainly doesn't harbour bandits.

Howard Richler's latest book is Strange Bedfellows: The Private Lives of Words