by Fay Knuse, Lacy Hemmings, and Tad Hott
Epigraph: “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it. Don’t break nothin’.” --Lou Paloop
“Meteorological” autumn starts on September 1, “astronomical autumn” at the equinox on Friday, September 22.
“Penultimate” means “next to last,” from Latin “paene,” almost, and “ultima,” final, last or, as in English, noun, last syllable of a multisyllabic word. “Ultima” is familiar from common English words like “ultimate” and “ultimatum,” but “paene” seems to be represented in English only in “penultimate” and “peninsula” (“almost an island”)
Or maybe not: is “paene pasta” bad Italian food?
An “antepenult” sounds as if it’s some kind of trans relative (“You forgot your antepenult’s birthday”), but it means “before the almost the last” or “third to last syllable of a word of three or more syllables.”
I’m unable to tell you the relationship between “ante” (before, as in “anteroom” and “antenuptial”) and “anti” (against, as in “antifa”). You’d think they’d have a common idea at a common root, but I can’t find it.
Tell Teddy Roosevelt his maxim has been updated: “Speak loudly and carry a small stick in your small hand. Be small in every way.”
Many English parents raise their children between Beatingham and Bashingham.
In British Railway lavatories is found the sign “Gentlemen Lift the Seat.” One observer speculated whether it was a sociological definition or an invitation to upper-class larceny.
Another purported maxim came to my attention years ago in a television period drama in which a poor man’s son eloped with a rich man’s daughter, or vice versa.
The fathers met and hatched a plan to undo the elopement (bribe the preacher to deny the marriage, etc.). In the tense negotiation between the fathers, the rich one overcame the poor one’s objections by intoning, “Gentlemen come to an agreement.”
It was rhetorically astute, essentially asking the poor man, “Are you a gentleman or not?”
Nevertheless, I have never seen the saying in print, Google knows it only as a command: “Gentlemen, come to an agreement!” Some screenwriter apparently coined it in its aphoristic sense.
As a boy, I liked reading short stories. Why do modern readers prefer novels? Supposedly the average attention span has shortened, so you’d think the opposite. What’s the most famous short story every written? The Pit and the Pendulum? The Snows of Kilimanjaro? The Night the Bed Fell?
How many restaurants are there in Middletown? Take a guess. Would it surprise you to know that one correct answer is “more than a hundred”?
A main street that thrives on numberless restaurants is vulnerable to recession. We’re in the ninth year of our current recovery, and some economists say we’re due for a downturn, so we may find out.
There’s a theory that restaurants thrive when people have to work so many hours to make ends meet that they haven’t time to cook. So they take out; it makes economic sense for them, and helps restaurants.
You know you’re old when you bend over to pick up a penny.
Nobody has ever come back from a $20 trillion debt. I’m just sayin’.
Q: How can you tell if the bear chasing you is a black bear or a grizzly bear?
A: Climb up a tree to escape the bear. If the bear follows you up the tree and kills you, it's a black bear. If the bear knocks the tree down and then kills you, it's a grizzly.
She likes cats. She’s symcatico.
A friend said: “I’ve read the play, but I’ve never seen a production of Pygma Lion.”
The patron saint of retail software is Our Lady of Perpetual Inventory.
“Don’t look directly at the eclipse of American democracy.”
That’s gloomy. Better to ponder more hopeful stuff:
“Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.” Jas 3:4.
Or, in more modern dress, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Nothing else ever has.” (Margaret Mead)
We stayed in an attic room in an inn. It was a converted church, and the top of a lancet window peeked above the floor on the far side of the claw-foot bathtub. It was eerie to see morning sun streaming from under the bathtub.
Some titles practically write the book: “The Sheik of Araby and the Nick of Time.”
From bookstore browsing: “Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love”; “Fight Like A Girl”; “The Power of Boundless Compassion”; “1001 Ways to Slow Down” (gift from a traffic cop?).
For real, a booth at the Wadsworth Mansion Open Air Market: “Walk By Faith Doggie Bakery, LLC.” (Not as weird as Cape Cod’s “Church of Jesus Christ, Sandwich.”)
When life gives you lemons: “If life burns your toast, make diamonds from the carbon.”
Other kids made merciless fun of Charles “Chunky” Guacamole, singing “Chunky Guacamole” to the tune of “Gary, Indiana” from “The Music Man.”
Speaking of tunes, the previous administration had one ready but never got to use it: “GuantanaMO Bay/ we closed/ GuantanaMO Bay.”
“C’mon, Professor, crack a smile! Chemistry can’t be all grim!”
When the affectless professor loses his cool, he swears mildly: “Oh, fishknuckles!” he mutters, more in annoyance than true anger.
Hypograph: “When life gives you lemmings, make lemmingade.”