CSotD: That which we call a Steve …

Tony Carrillo gives us a clue to his lead time on F-Minus (AMS), given that the American Ornithological Society announced on November 1 that they intended to change the names of birds named after people.

They should have made their secondary reason first, which is that using descriptive names rather than eponyms helps people identify birds by their physical characteristics. Their primary reason, taking away names of people who have since become known to be racist seems a bit precious, given that nearly everybody was racist a century ago.

I do however agree that naming birds for the person who discovered them is absurd because it actually is racist, assuming the bird you “discovered” lived somewhere where people who don’t look like you have lived for eons.

Anyway, you can’t call it “Steve.” Unless you mean that particular bird rather than the species.

And I thought “Eponym” was that girl in Les Miserables, but never mind.

As the Argyle Sweater (AMS) proves, word play can be worse. Or better. Depending on how you feel about clever things, though he gets points taken off for inventing the name “Iden.”

Then again, he gets extra points for not apologizing for the pun in the last frame, my rule being that, if you have to apologize, you shouldn’t have done it, while, if you only do that to point out that you made a pun, it can’t have been a very good one.

My other rule is that people who dislike puns generally haven’t the wit to think of any.

First Dog on the Moon is proud to flaunt wordplay, providing a delightful collection of useful words, though pobblebonk is mostly useful in Australia and we spell kumquat with a K here, but, then, we wouldn’t have said it was orange “coloured,” though of corse it is.

But he gets an extra round of applause for choosing “irregardless,” because it is a word that drives humo(u)rless grammarians bananas. I don’t know that it’s a portmanteau so much as an example of the sort of folk-irony that goes over the heads of people who have more education than common sense.

If it has a category, it would qualify as an intensifier. When my mother began a sentence with it, she meant she was not interested in debating the topic further, and sometimes she simply used the word alone. You can’t get any intenser than that.

He also gets points for ignoring the actual statistics on words provided by his readers. I’ve always wished that companies offering prizes for making up a slogan would admit that it’s really a prize for coming up with the slogan they already had in mind.

Which brings us to Jeremy Banx and “rizz,” the actual Word of the Year as selected by the Oxford Dictionary people.

You have to give them credit for selecting a Word of the Year that nobody old enough to have ever purchased one of their dictionaries had ever heard of.

There is a sad little project given to cub reporters, which is to write a feature about the latest hip slang, the result of which is generally a list of words no young people have said in the past year or more, or, in the famous case of this stupid assignment gone completely off the rails, ever.

I had an editor who thought, or perhaps wished, that she was hip and would send reporters off on wild goose chases to “localize” something she’d read about in Newsweek as the latest thing, which meant it had been the latest thing some time ago if at all. However, there was always some kid who also read Newsweek and decided to be hip, and our assignment would be to find and interview that future editor.

“Deciding to be hip” is like deciding to be tall. You can fake it, but you won’t fool anyone.

I suspect you also can’t decide to have rizz.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Loose Parts — AMS

Speed Bump — Creators

This pair came up one after the other on my GoComics page this morning, but, while they riff on the same phrase, they’re so different that I didn’t have to scroll back to see if I’d already read it. But having recently replaced a second hip, I was able to identify with the pain in each.

Also that second one reminded me of a classic Lewis Grizzard joke.

That physical therapy dog would be booked solid for the next five years.

Speaking of dogs and discretion, Rhymes With Orange (KFS) reminds me of a bad neighbor we had back in Colorado, who moved in with a pair of “guard dogs,” by which he meant two mixed-breed shepherds he’d beaten into viciousness. First thing he did was have a privacy fence installed, which was fine with us because we didn’t like him and because if he’d asked us, we’d have split the cost.

He didn’t stay long. One night he started smacking his wife around and the dogs decided they were on her side. She kicked him out before he’d even healed up, then sold the house to some very nice people.

So he got what he deserved and we got a free fence.

Real guard dogs and police dogs are trained with love, of course, and this Bizarro (KFS) reminds me of an elementary school career fair I went to where they set me up next to the State Police who had brought a drug-sniffing dog.

I don’t think a single kid heard a word I said all day, because they knew as soon as I shut up they could go to the next station and pet the dog.

What most people don’t know about service and police dogs is that after eight years or so, they get bored and need to retire, which, given how long it takes to train them, adds up to a pretty short working life.

The officer that day told me his partner was about to retire, but that he was going to keep him and take him home as a pet.

Reprobate that I am, all I could think of was that I was glad I wasn’t some teenage boy dating his daughter, because that dog would plunk himself down right next to my chair and smile up at Daddy.

8 thoughts on “CSotD: That which we call a Steve …

  1. Guardian readers may have only recently found out about “discombobulate,” but meanwhile the Milwaukee airport has a Recombobulation Area (with appropriate signage) after each security checkpoint.

  2. I encountered most of the words mentioned in First Dog on the Moon via the BBC radio show My Word, which ran for many years on WETA-FM in DC. The first round was always one in which the Chair asked each panelist to define a word. This came in handy when I took the GRE–I did well enough on the Verbal section to get a 50% scholarship from my university. So in a way, Frank Muir and Denis Norden (et al.) put me through library school.

    1. Science can’t name a bird species “Steve” because they already named a rare type of aurora “Steve”:


      Originally, it was just a name suggested by some jokers, but once it started being used in real scientific journals they had to turn it into a stupid acronym. Don’t be fooled! The stupid name came first.

      My favorite word is “syzygy.” Pity it’s too long to come up in Wordle.

  3. It took only one page of a google search to find several doctors with first name Iden and at least one Dr. Iden (an OB/GYN in Wisconsin). So maybe not a made up name but a found one? Thanks for the CSOTD each day, keep up the good work.

  4. I have no idea what “rizz” is (I’m 37), but I’m just glad Oxford didn’t choose “unalive” as their Word of the Year.

  5. Mike wrote: Then again, he gets extra points for not apologizing for the pun in the last frame, my rule being that, if you have to apologize, you shouldn’t have done it, while, if you only do that to point out that you made a pun, it can’t have been a very good one.
    My other rule is that people who dislike puns generally haven’t the wit to think of any.

    I reply: As our Heroic Heretic (copr & tm) says: “I’ve spent years trying not to end up half-wisdom and half-wit. And, I’ll not apologize for that.” So, did I rizz to the challenge?

    The Dillards, YES! got their Back Porch Bluegrass in about 1965. Their bluegrass instrumental virtuosity has never been equaled.

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