Now & Then
Our Living (and/or Dying) Language Division
Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake: “Subject: Lost words of the past.
“Heavens to Murgatroyd! Would you believe the email spell-checker did not recognize the word murgatroyd?
“Lost words from our childhood: words gone as fast as the buggy whip! Sad, really!
“The other day, a not-so-elderly (I say 75) lady said something to her son about driving a jalopy, and he looked at her quizzically and said: ‘What the heck is a jalopy?‘ OMG (new phrase)! He had never heard of the word jalopy! She knew she was old, but not that old.
“Well, I hope you are hunky dory after you read this and chuckle.
“About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included ‘Don’t touch that dial,’ ‘carbon copy,’ ‘You sound like a broken record’ and ‘Hung out to dry.’
“Back in the olden days, we had a lot of moxie.
“We’d put on our best bib and tucker to straighten up and fly right.
“We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!
“Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers. Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.
“We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say ‘Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!’ or ‘This is a fine kettle of fish!’ we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely
a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.
“Poof go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind. We blink, and they’re gone. Where have all those phrases gone?
“Long gone: Pshaw. The milkman did it. Hey! It’s your nickel.
“Don’t forget to pull the chain.
“Going like sixty.
“I’ll see you in the funny papers.
“Don’t take any wooden nickels.
“It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills. This can be disturbing stuff!
“We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeable times. For a child, each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It’s one of the greatest advantages of aging.
“See ya later, alligator!”
Today’s helpful hint
Lola: “I smoked off and on from 1958 until almost 40 years ago, when I quit.
“In 1974, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state’s first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day. It’s always the third Thursday of November and this year is on November 16.
“When my son was in fourth grade, his best friend, our neighbors’ son, died of cancer. I decided that since Todd had not done anything to make himself sick, I should stop putting poison into my body every time I lit up. So on Don’t Smoke Day, I went without a cigarette, found out I could do it and decided to continue to not smoke. It wasn’t easy but being a stubborn German helped.
“I kept two packs in the freezer just in case, but have not had a cigarette since.”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Dragonslayer of Oakdale: “I had just finished a relief carving of a raccoon in a tree and texted a picture to my family for their approval.
“My daughter-in-law sent me this picture of her actual interaction with a raccoon in a tree in her front yard.”
What’s in a face?
Al B of Hartland: “A friend, Ruth of Decorah, dropped off a gift for me while I was in Methodist Hospital in Rochester. It was the delightful book ‘Audubon’s Birds of America: The National Audubon Society Baby Elephant Folio,’ edited by Roger Tory Peterson and Virginia Marie Peterson. It had all 435 of Audubon’s hand-colored engravings in exquisite reproductions. It was a hernia-inducing-sized book.
“My nurse said: ‘You are not to lift this!’
“She made one of those ‘I mean it’ faces.
“That worked for me.”
The highfalutin displeasures
Elvis writes: “Subject: Leave it alone.
“Elvis is getting peeved at a few of the latest technology trends. He dislikes it when programmers put things in his way that make life more difficult, or require a couple more steps in order to get something done online.
“Here are Elvis‘s three pet peeves right now:
“1. Just let Elvis say no. Elvis is smart enough to know what he wants. One of the social-media platforms now asks Elvis every time he signs in if he would like to put the app on his phone. He doesn’t, but the only choices are ‘Yes’ and ‘Not now.’ He’s not allowed to say no. There is a payment site, too, that continues to ask Elvis every time he logs into it if he would like to stay signed in. With all the hacking going on, and theft of passwords, etc., the last thing he wants to do with his financial information is stay logged in. Once again, the site offers only ‘Yes’ and ‘Maybe later.’ Please let Elvis say no when he means no.
“2. Elvis does not want a new search engine. Elvis is happy with his current search engine. Please don’t set a default opt-in checkbox for a new search engine when a software update is being downloaded, usually for something completely unrelated to search engines. But some big I.T. company pays to bundle their software with other software. Elvis has learned he has to pay attention because these things can be very sneaky and install or change preferences in several places. It can take awhile to undo if Elvis doesn’t pay attention to the tiny checkbox saying ‘No.’ (At least he can say no). Same with suddenly opting in to newsletters or special offers that start to appear every day. Ask Elvis if he wants something; don’t assume he does. Plus, it’s just not nice to be sneaky.
“3. Elvis has commented before about the ‘Captcha’ verifications that are used to try to protect websites from evil bots and other things. But Elvis is a customer, and doesn’t appreciate companies that make it harder to use their sites. They protect themselves and tick Elvis off. In addition to the now ‘old fashioned’ set of squiggly letters that you have to figure out to submit a form or buy something, there are several other permutations. Did the robots figure out how to read squiggly letters? Because Elvis frequently still has a hard time guessing them correctly.
“Now they will sometimes use street names and house numbers: usually at least two very blurry images . . . and boy, they can be tough to read, too. Do we assume bots have bad eyes?
“The latest derivation is a puzzle game where Elvis gets shown an image and he is supposed to click on squares that contain a piece of a street sign. Maybe robots don’t like street signs. Elvis gets nervous that when there is just an edge of one, is he supposed to click it or not? Click click click click click. And then there is usually a second one, just in case it’s a really smart robot (maybe a Russian robot) that’s trying to sneak in and order something. More clicking. Sheesh. Very occasionally there is a simple Captcha that is a single check mark. One click here to prove he is not a robot. Elvis is not a robot; just let him submit your $##$%@# order form and buy your product.
“P.S.: Now there is a late entry which seems to becoming more prevalent: the videos that start playing automatically on a website and follow you as you scroll down the screen. Elvis just this minute Googled a question on how to stop this, and the website he picked started playing a video.”
Or: Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson writes: “From the New York Times: ‘Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said that some churches already offer apps, a trend he does not approve. “There are enough occasions for our mind to wander during Mass; we shouldn’t be using these artificial things that take us away,” he said.’
“In this age of text and tweet, when hope is on the brink,
“Parishioners first cross themselves, then search for shopping link.
“The priest may give a homily that makes the stained glass glitter,
“But those who bow their heads below are actually on Twitter.
“In congregations near and far, the faithful appear drugged
“On Facebook and on Reddit, and refuse to be unplugged.
“The miracle of Instagram replaces Lourdes and Mecca —
“The golden calf that’s worshipped now is certainly high techa.
“We play with little pinwheels while the Master of us all
“Shakes His head at all the trinkets holding us in thrall.
“When He deigns to speak to us, no smartphone will be needed;
“All cyberspace will hold its tongue, while YouTube goes unheeded . . .”
A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants . . .
Including: Know thyself!
Wicki-Yah: “The Disney Darling has a few places where we kind of let her go and be an ‘adult’ because we know there are plenty of people in the Village watching out for our girl.
“One of these places is at church. It is a large church, but we have been members there for 24 years, and there are many things that make us ‘known’ — not the least of which is The Disney Darling and her antics.
“Sunday, I was manning a booth in the lobby and Harley Man was singing in the choir. The Disney Darling was left to her own devices. She always finds someone to sit with, and there is little mischief she can get into. Er, nothing dangerous, that is.
“Our church is in the middle of our stewardship campaign and has large round stickers with a circle and a large ‘X’ through it (symbolic of multiplication) that are designed to be put on a board as families make their pledge. Where these stickers are kept, I do not know, but obviously The Disney Darling does.
“Wish I had a picture, but this description will have to do. There is Harley Man in the choir loft, and Darling stands to walk up to the front of the church to the communion rail. She turns full-on to the choir, which is standing and singing a choral number. Strategically stuck on each side of her shirt are two of these ‘X’ stickers. A collective giggle-snort went up from the tenor and bass sections, led by Harley Man. I can only imagine what the director, his back to The Disney Darling, thought.
“Oh, that girl! She always finds a way to amuse. Knowing her sense of humor, I think she likely knew exactly what she was doing. We often say, because she has no filter, she does what we would like to. And, the first time I saw those stickers, I admit . . . oh, never mind . . . that is far too much information for today.
“I was just glad I was in the lobby. My response would likely have been something far more drastic than a controlled giggle!”
Band Name of the Day: The Little Liver Pills
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