Archive for July 2014

Christopher Morley, a Sustaining author to discover

Christopher Morley, a Sustaining author to discover
If you know Christopher Morley at all, you’re most likely to know him for his eloquent introduction to “The Complete Sherlock Holmes,” the first omnibus edition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterful detective stories. If you don’t know Morley’s work, that’s a shame, and yet I envy you. You have some wonderful books to discover.... Read more »

Misuse of 'nauseous' makes me sick!

Misuse of 'nauseous' makes me sick!
Sometimes those of us who find words worth defending must admit that a word is being lost to us. I am sorry to admit that such a time has come for me, but I rise in defense of this marvelous word before we lose it completely. The dying word is ‘nauseous.’ According to my faithful... Read more »

My five least favorite adverbs (really!)

My five least favorite adverbs (really!)
When I think of the famous maxim from Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style” and start to “Omit needless words,” adverbs are first on my list. If I need an adverb, I haven’t used the best possible verb. Adverbs, like adjectives, are called “modifiers” — and if a noun or verb needs a modifier,... Read more »
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How much memory do you have?

How much memory do you have?
When I’m asked how much memory I have, I don’t think of it in terms of devices. I think of it in terms of my brain. I have been described as having a photographic memory. However, like a writer who described her own memory to Readers’ Digest, “Sometimes I take movies. Sometimes I take still... Read more »

Books to enjoy for their titles -- and more

Books to enjoy for their titles -- and more
When I moved to Edgewater in 2013, I didn’t feel quite at home until I got my books settled in. Before the move, people asked what I was going to do with all of my books. My answer: Move them. I want books around me. There are some books I consult often, some I read... Read more »

A good joke for language lovers -- what's the matter with that?

A good joke for language lovers -- what's the matter with that?
Even when I’m telling jokes, I’m capital-S Serious about language. My favorite joke involves seven different languages.(For instance, this is an updated version including a correction of an Italian word, thanks to a commenter whose catch you can read below.)  I’ve never heard anyone but my dad tell it, so the idea of typing it... Read more »
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Hockey vocabulary: Toward an air-conditioner league

Hockey vocabulary: Toward an air-conditioner league
Baseball’s off-season (i.e., winter) is full of talk about “the hot-stove league,” from the days when fans would gather around a hot stove in the winter and talk about their beloved summer game. Well, why shouldn’t hockey fans have the same sort of fun in the off-season? I propose that we call it “the air-conditioner... Read more »

Cooling words for hot weather

Don’t resort to merely asking “Hot enough for you?” Not when there are much more vivid things to say, thanks to another session of browsing through Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Here are a couple of gems that I’ve found, plus some advice. Heat has made me take some drastic measures, but few quite as strong as... Read more »

French words in English -- cached in plain sight

French words in English -- cached in plain sight
When things go wrong, such as a blog post getting out early and incomplete, there’s always the convenient French expression “Quel horreur!” (Makes it sound and read a bit more dignified than “Oops, readers, I’m sorry!” But I am, and here’s the rest of the story.) Especially in Chicago, French words are all around us... Read more »
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My other writing is a detective story -- not a mystery

My other writing is a detective story -- not a mystery
These posts aren’t the only writing I’m doing. I’m working on the third draft of Chapter 8 of a detective story. Its working title is “Murder in the Lake-Effect Snowstorm,” so of course I went back to work on the scenery during the polar vortex’s visits. I refer to it as a detective story, not... Read more »