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A Sunny Place for Shady People

Pithy, contrarian, politically incorrect and curmudgeonly rants on sex, money, power and politics and religion and philosophy. In short: Nothing matters, everything changes and there are no guarantees. The rest is rationalization and bribery. (c) Tom Milner 2002-2003. DIRECTORY of offensive POSTS at Archives: 07/09/03. RECOMMENDED BLOGS: Archives: 07/29/03. email: theoldbuzzard AT sunnyplaceforshadypeople DOT com.

Friday, April 11, 2003
Monday, April 14, 2003

One of the absolutely indispensable reference books -- although charmingly, humorously entertaining -- that we always keep to hand is Charles Harrington Elster's The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. (Unfortunately out of print but available discounted on line.)

This is decidedly not a dry "dictionary of pronunciation," but rather a collection of amusing mini-essays on many of the over one thousand words commonly mangled even by cultivated speakers of English.

And so easy to read and use -- without the perplexing diacritical marks found in lesser and more general dictionaries.

This gentleman's work is unalloyed pleasure to read.

We recommend it especially to the current crop of lazy televison news war reporters, none of whom seem able to pronounce cache [KASH (like cash)].

Familiar -- and frequently used -- words mispronounced (to one's embarrassment, we hope) by even the lettered include: abyss, accompanist, adjective, aged, almond, apartheid, aphrodisiac, aunt.

Barbiturate, bona fide, brothel, bulimia, chauvinism, chic, chocolate, cholesterol, clitoris, coitus, cupola, defendant, deja vu, detritus, deus ex machina, divisive, dour, either, err, eschew, fecal, fecund, fellatio, feral, fetish, finis, flaccid, forte, gala, genealogy, gerrymander, Gila, gratis, gynecology.

Halley's (comet), harass, herb, hygienic, incongruous, Iran, Iraq, irrelevant, Jesuit, Judaism, junta, ketchup, kimono, kudos, laissez-faire, largess, leisure, lingerie, long-lived, Louisville, Magdalen, mauve, milieu, minuscule, Missouri, modem, Moscow, Nabokov[,] Vladimir, naivete, Nazi,
New Orleans, nihilism.

Nuclear, nuptial, oblique, occult, Oedipus, paean, palliative, paradigm, patina, pecan, pianist, plethora, poinsettia, prerogative, prescient, prestigious, produce, quasi, quay, Quebec, quietus, rabid.

Realtor, recluse, repartee, restaurateur, rouge, sanguine, scenario, scimitar, scion, sentient, sequel, sherbet, short-lived, species, Spokane, steroid, succinct, sycophant, temperature, textile.

The, Tijuana, trauma, trespass, ukase, Uranus, vaginal, valet, Van Gogh, vice versa, victuals, vis-a-vis, wintry, Worcestershire, zodiacal, zoology.

Mispronouncing any of these words? Most of them?

Both your social standing and your literacy may be in jeopardy.

Best get this book.


Addendum (Unrelated):

Best U.S. Newspapers (in roughly descending order)

New York Times
Washington Post
New York Wall Street Journal
Los Angeles Times
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
St. Petersburg Times
Boston Globe
Portland Oregonian
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
San Jose Mercury News

Best U.S. Major Circulation Magazines (in roughly descending order)

Rolling Stone
U.S. News & World Report
Southern Living

Best Cable TV Networks (in roughly descending order)

Discovery Channel
TLC (The Learning Channel)
The Weather Channel

Best Record Long-Run Broadway Plays (in roughly descending order)

Tobacco Road
A Chorus Line
The Phantom of the Opera
La Cage aux Folles
Arsenic and Old Lace

Best Motion Picture Directors (roughly descending order)

Louis Malle
Orson Welles
Alfred Hitchcock
Francis Ford Coppola
Robert Aldrich
Sydney Pollack
Ingmar Bergman
Jean-Luc Godard
Francois Truffaut
Jean Renoir

Best Non-Profit Theatre Companies (in roughly descending order)

Joseph Papp Public Theatre (NY)
Guthrie Theatre (Minneapolis)
Actors Theatre of Louisville
Alley Theatre (Houston)
Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland)
American Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco)
Lincoln Center Theatre (NY)
Pasadena Playhouse (CA)
Huntington Theatre Company (Boston)
ACT Theatre (Seattle)

World's Best Sports (in roughly descending order)

Swimming & Diving
Freestyle Skiing
Figure Skating
Ice Hockey

Best U.S. First Ladies (in descending order)

Eleanor Roosevelt
Lady Bird Johnson
Jacqueline Kennedy
Edith Wilson
Hillary Clinton

World's Best Religions (descending order)


World's Best Cities (in absolute and precise descending order)

New York
San Francisco


Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Thursday, April 10, 2003

This is the third installment of a reverential review of the iconoclast Paul Fussell's study, Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. New York: Dorset Press, 1999. (Out of print but available discounted on-line.)

"In general, good-looking people marry up [the social ladder] ... and the insecure and ugly tend to marry down," notes Jilly Cooper (a fellow sociologist of Fussell's).

And the less you smile, the more upper your class.

"Regardless of one's height [the classy are tall and thin] having an ass that protrudes is low, as is having ... very little neck."

And girth travels east to west and north to south, and the fattest live where you have recent immigration and "ancestral memories of hunger closest."

Layering of clothes is upper.

Scarves worn by women are upper.

"If navy is the upper-middle-class color, purple [polyester] is the prole equivalent."

"Clothes are classier the more pastel or faded, and materials are classier the more they consist of anything that was alive."

Yes, the classy wear only natural fibers.

Then there is legible clothing, so favored by the lower classes, clothing that barks some ad or slogan.

Or the wearing of baseball caps, especially when the plastic fastener faces front. If the cap is also "legible," the lower the class.

"[T]he prole associates himself with an enterprise the world judges successful, and thus, for the moment, he achieves some [self] importance," by sporting T shirts with "Budweiser" or "Valvoline" emblazoned thereon.

"The upper and upper-middle classes like to appear in old clothes, as if to advertise how much of conventional [middle class] dignity they can afford to throw away ...."

Hopelessly middle class: died hair, collar stays, well washed automobiles, neat looking attache cases, full Windsor knots, two button suits, "space age" watches, black raincoats, "legible" neckties, poorly fitting coats round the shoulders, V-neck sweaters, "bola" ties, Formica kitchens, and "Colonial" or "Cape Cod" houses.

(Only the middle and some of the lower refer to their dwellings as "homes." The uppers call them, less grandly, houses.)

Finally, Fussell reminds us that uppers venerate the past and the archaic.

"Classy people never deal with the future."


Rants Planned for the Coming Year Include These Topics:

Academy Awards, Austin Powers, Backstreet Boys, Big Brother, Blair Witch Project, Carmen Electra, Dale Earnhardt, Daytona 500, Drudge Report, Foot & Mouth Disease, Half Life, HotBot, Howard Sterne, Israel & Palestine, Justin Timberlake, Leonardo Di Caprio, Limp Bizkit, Mariah Carey, Metallica, Michael Jordan, Miss World, Nascar.

Nicole Kidman, NY Yankees, Pamela Anderson, Penelope Cruz, Periodic Table, Pregnancy, Ralph Nader, Russell Crowe, Shania Twain, Solar Eclipse, South Park, Super Bowl, Surfing, Survivor, Swimsuits, Teen, Tour de France, UFO's, Wrestling, Zelda.


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