Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Daddy, Are Whiffenpoofs Real? -- Popcorn by The Colonel -- #99 of 100

This is the penultimate Popcorn. “Penultimate” means “next to last,” and it’s from the Latin words paene (almost, nearly) and ultima (final, last). A similar English word is “peninsula,” meaning “almost an island,” where insula means “island.” "Antepenultimate" means “just before the penultimate.” The last three syllables of a word of three or more syllables are the antepenult, the penult, and the ultima. Good to know if aliens kidnap you and make your life depend on the answers.

A Canadian friend writes:

“Wiarton seems to be in its full summer mode: crowded with visitors and summer people, although things won’t peak until after Canada Day [July 1]. 

“Friday night at nine o’clock our main street, Berford Street, was still crowded with strolling people.  Usually, ‘downtown’ is deserted and the sidewalks removed by six o’clock.  All of the restaurants are now reopened or open more often -- six or seven days a week.

“There’s a new organic restaurant that’s said to be good. We attempted to go there for dinner Friday night, but found it closed due to a private party – probably a good sign.

“Another restaurant, a good one called Cocoa Vanilla, that opened last year, survived the winter.  It opened as a sort of a Starbucks place but has expanded into a full-menu restaurant (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and now has a beer/wine licence. The food is good – lots of salads and a few good main courses – different every day.

“I think we may be living in a dream – Wiarton has generally been a graveyard for new restaurants – one-season wonders.  Even the old Pacific Hotel has cleaned up and hired a chef.  It used to be one of those typical Ontario small-town hotels with a beverage room that smelled like cigarette smoke, deep-fried grease, and spilt beer.”


Thinking about Canada makes us think about the U.K., and that leads to thoughts of aristocracy. The following sentiments -- not from the above writer -- sounds as if it could have come from “Two Cheers for Democracy”:

“It’s tough to be an aristocrat in democratic days, but anyone willing to pay the price can do it. It requires cultivating the aristocratic virtues  and weeding out the aristocratic vices.

“The aristocratic virtues are several: politeness, generosity, hospitality, punctuality, cleanliness, the good kind of pride, civic-mindedness, gentleness, kindness, care in speech, self-restraint, family feeling, consideration for the feelings of others, bravery, kindness, steadfastness in adversity, loyalty, and a kind of reverence that is sometimes misread as conservatism.

“Note that intelligence is not on the list. Occasionally aristocrats are smart, but it’s certainly not required, and some think it bad form. If you are a dope, don’t lose hope: you can still be a fine aristocrat. Aristocracy is generally the stupid party in every analysis but the last.

“The aristocratic vices are arrogance, aloofness, cruelty, selfishness, the bad kind of pride, greed, heedlessness, rudeness, heartlessness, a sense of entitlement, and unkindness. The list of vices is shorter than the list of virtues because the vices are systemic, like poison, while the virtues are particular, like flowers.

“It would be off-putting to announce that you are an aristocrat. Better to call yourself an “aspiring aristocrat.” Say that you aspire to all the virtues of an aristocrat and that if you ever achieve that goal, the actual circumstances of your birth won’t matter, because your descendants will be proud to have you as their ancestor.

“If you find you cannot acquire the aristocratic virtues, diligently fake them and your behavior will shape your character. Hypocrisy is the bow that vice makes to virtue, so bow and maybe virtue will look kindly on you and come to you.

“If in the end you cannot overcome your own hard-heartedness, go down fighting, and your valor will cover a multitude of sins.”


The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has much better words of the day than Anu Garg does. While Anu Garg has words like sempiternal, animadversion, and expansive, the OED word of the day feature has words like metagrobolize (puzzle, mystify, confound), runcation (weeding), and rupestral (growing on rocks or cliffs). Aren't those breathtaking?

We were reading the long list of OED newly added words, subentries, and senses. The biggest surprise was how some words and phrases take a long time to make it into the dictionary, like “bookend” and “crap shoot.”

Here’s a sampling of words newly added to the OED: beatbox, bestie, bookaholic, chugger, demosponge, diotic, emic, heronite, mitsuba, scillin, sciurid, shvitz, vato, and wackadoo. We recognized only bookaholic, shvitz, and wackadoo. Maybe chugger, but not sure whether it has to do with beer or the little engine that could. (The newsletter didn't define these newly added words, and we don't subscribe to the online OED itself.)

“Subentries” are apparently phrases. A few of the newly added ones: bee orchid, boiled sweet, book squaring, constructive empiricist, death penny, death-fetch, declarative memory, democracy deficit, dichroic fog, emperor of anguish, Eton five, honeyfuggling, honked off, imperial parrot, one cannot be doing with, scientific creationism, scimitar-bill, to book up, to do off, TPing, trophic chain, and wood avens.

A few words have developed “new senses,” meaning new to the OED: breach, button, draw, element, ferret, filter, search, shotgun, sweet, tick-tock, and tone.

One item on one of the three lists above was made up and inserted by impish us. We’d offer a prize, but Uncle Internet makes the ringer too easy to ferret out (it isn’t “ferret”).

See you in the ultimate! --The Colonel


Mr. Fixit said...

The ultimate is upon us? Oh no! The readers of the EYE, those of us who can read, will ultimately suffer the unbearable loss of the gem known as "Popcorn by the Colonel". Please say it isn't so.

Anonymous said...

"Please, sir, I want some more."
Oliver Twist, Ch.2

Anonymous said...

But is Barkis willing?

Tree Fanatic said...

What the Dickens?