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Must be a relative

The encyclopedia version of the trap street is called a Mountweazel. It takes its name from an entry in the 1975 edition of The New Columbia Encyclopedia. Thus:

Mountweazel, Lillian Virginia, 1942-1973, American photographer, b. Bangs, Ohio. Turning from fountain design to photography in 1963, Mountweazel produced her celebrated portraits of the South Sierra Miwok in 1964. She was awarded government grants to make a series of photo-essays of unusual subject matter, including New York City buses, the cemeteries of Paris, and rural American mailboxes. The last group was exhibited extensively abroad and published as Flags Up! (1972). Mountweazel died at 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine.

Goodness! How would anyone spot that as a fake?

A google search of “copyright trap” will yield a delightful afternoon of…whatever it was we decided to call stumbling around the web learning stupid stuff.

See also: Argleton.

November 6, 2019 — 8:17 pm
Comments: 6

This’ll keep you busy for a couple of days

So this Dutch dude wrote a poem called The Chaos, about what an utter pain in the ass English is for the non-native speaker. It’s 270-something lines documenting 800 or so spelling/pronunciation anomalies. (You can learn more about the history of it here).

Aw, c’mon…it’s kind of fun. Dip in anywhere and sample a couple of verses. Works best read aloud. Remember — English spellings and pronunciations.

Great weekend and thanks for all the ghoti!

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse

Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;

Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,

Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,

Say – said, pay – paid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,

Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,

Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,

Missiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,

Solar, mica, war and far.

From “desire”: desirable – admirable from “admire”,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,

Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,

Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth

Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,

Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,

Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad,

Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,

Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Is your R correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes with Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,

Buoyant, minute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme

If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,

Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You’ll envelop lists, I hope,

In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
To abjure, to perjure. Sheik

Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,

People, leopard, towed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,

Chalice, but police and lice,

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, penal, and canal,

Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,

Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
But it is not hard to tell

Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,

Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the A of drachm and hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess,

Desert, but desert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,

Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker“,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor“,
Making, it is sad but true,

In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,

Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,

Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.
Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.

Mind! Meandering but mean,

Valentine and magazine.
And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,

Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,

Tier (one who ties), but tier.
Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?

Prison, bison, treasure trove,

Treason, hover, cover, cove,
Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.

Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,

Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.
Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet;

Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,

Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.
Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.

Evil, devil, mezzotint,

Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,

Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,

Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud

Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,

Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you’re not supposed to say

Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,

When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
Episodes, antipodes,

Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,

Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,

Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.

The TH will surely trouble you

More than R, CH or W.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ’em
Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,

Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight – you see it;
With and forthwith, one has voice,

One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,

Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry, fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,

Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,

Puisne, truism, use, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,

Put, nut, granite, and unite

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,

Hint, pint, senate, but sedate.

Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,

Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
Bona fide, alibi

Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,

Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally; yea, ye,

Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess – it is not safe,

We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.

Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface, then grimace,

Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear

Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the O of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;

Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent.

Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,

Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.

A of valour, vapid, vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,

I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,

Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation – think of Psyche! –
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
Won’t it make you lose your wits

Writing groats and saying ‘grits’?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington, and Isle of Wight,

Housewife, verdict and indict.

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough,

Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

February 10, 2012 — 9:55 pm
Comments: 32

It has come to this…


Yep. Anagrams for Stoaty Weasel. Amusing myself while I cook dinner for Uncle Badger, who is working late.

Or, as I like to think of him, Cleared Bung. Lab Crud Gene. Cleaned Grub. Dance Bugler. Cage Blunder. Bag Clue Nerd. Enlarged Cub. Grenade Club. Gnarled Cube. Crab Nude Leg. Bad Creel Gun. Bald Cur Gene. Bean Curd Gel. Gland Be Ecru.

Oh, come on. It’s fun.

May 7, 2009 — 8:34 pm
Comments: 20

A quibble


Saying “weather is not climate” or “the plural of anecdote is not data” is like saying “the plural of tree is not forest.”

Well, it might be. How many trees we talking about?

March 5, 2008 — 6:37 am
Comments: 11

Russian? Anyone?

naughty bunnies


This was on the back door of an otherwise plain white work van I saw on the commute home tonight. Anyone?

Yeah, I know. Lame post, but I’ve goofed off all day and I hesitate to break a perfect record. It was a cinch the stapler post would dominate the blog all week, anyhow.

Uncle Badger says I deserve you guys. Sometimes, it almost sounds like it’s not a compliment.

October 5, 2007 — 5:04 pm
Comments: 43

Be a part of philological history


Work on the Oxford English Dictionary was begun in 1857, when members of the Philological Society of London became sufficiently annoyed with all the existing dictionaries. The aim was to cram in 1,300 years worth of every single goddamned word in the English language they could get their hands on, including earliest usage and quotations. Nothing much came of it for the next thirty years.

Eventually, the great work was accomplished through the use of volunteer readers. Hundreds and hundreds of them, who mailed in words and quotations on little bits of paper called quotation slips. These were mashed into chunks of dictionary called fascicles and published one by one. The 125th and final fascicle was published in 1928.

One of the most prolific contributors was Dr. W.C. Minor, who provided thousands of entries. The editors later discovered he was an inmate at my next home, the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. He was an American Civil War vet who went mad and shot some poor bastard more or less at random on the streets of London. Lexicographer by day, crunchy nutball after dark. Simon Winchester wrote a very interesting book about it a few years ago. Well, I thought it was interesting.

The current edition of the OED is 20 volumes and over 300,000 words (also available online and by CD). The Oxford University Press has never made a net profit on sales of the dictionary.

It seems likely Woody’s World of Penis Euphemisms has never made a profit, either, but Woody’s goal is somewhat more modest: to collect every single word for penis, like, ever. He’s asking for submissions. Can you help?

No, I didn’t find this when I was slapping together the coon bone post. It’s exactly what I was looking for, but I never found it. Somebody hit this blog on a Google search of “weasel penis” — so, naturally, I ran the same search to see how I ranked. Fourth. This guy was fifth.

Urban dictionary was first. Hmph. And they can bite me.

August 7, 2007 — 5:51 pm
Comments: 73

Monday dog’s breakfast


Dog’s breakfast. I’ve always loved that expression. It’s a Britishism for ‘mess’, but it conveys a cheerful appreciation of assorted vilenesses. Like a Whitman’s sampler of rotting garbage. I imagine Queenie loping through the neighborhood, going, “ooo! A delicious dead squirrel’s bottom! And — oh look! Fresh cat shit!”

Anyhow, here’s some carrion. Enjoy!

Uncle Badger introduced me to the vehicle above, the Mazda Bongo Friendee. Okay, I’m not sure that one’s a Friendee (a subspecies of the Bongo line), but as “Mazda Bongo Friendee” is the gayest car name ever, I’m running with it. It came out in 1966 (I didn’t know there was a Mazda in 1966!) and is sold in the States as the Ford Econovan.

magoostattoo.jpgGnus called my attention to this image (detail at right) and wondered if a minion we know might be moonlighting. Since McGoo isn’t here to defend himself, I figured now was a good time to post it.

The whole site is worth clicking around. Some pretty pictures. Some strange pictures. Some mildly pornographic ones. All in Portuguese, for extra added WTF?!

Bloody Mess

Half an hour ago, I was moving a chair to clean behind it, and I caught the leg against my right big toenail, tearing it half away. What a bloody mess. And by “bloody mess” I don’t mean, “I say, Rupert, this New Delhi business is a bit of a bloody mess, eh wot?” I mean, “Oh fucking hell! Blood! Everywhere! What a mess!”

See? Cleaning is unnatural.

I don’t appear to own any bandaids. I used to. What happened? I’m thinking of putting a strip of duct tape around it, but the idea of tearing it off again gives me the vapors. The nail is going to go, but I’d like to see it go gently into that dark night.

The really rotten part? I was stone cold sober. I mean, then. Not now. Certainly not now.

Finally, Dawn thinks “amok” deserves its own thread. It’s pretty interesting, I admit. I did not know this:

Running amok, sometimes referred to as simply amok (also spelled amuck or amuk), is derived from the Malay word mengamuk, meaning “to go mad with rage” (uncontrollable rage). In typical cases of running amok, someone, although having shown no previous sign of anger and/or any inclination to resort to violence, will acquire a weapon and in a sudden frenzy will attempt to kill or seriously injure everyone they meet. Amok episodes of this kind normally end with the amok-runner being killed by bystanders.


The explanation which is now most widely accepted is that amok is closely related to male honor (amok by women is virtually unknown). In many cases where the background of the amok-runner is known, there seems to have been some element of deep shame which prevented the man from living honorably, as he saw it, in his own society. Running amok was both a way of escaping the world (since perpetrators were normally killed) and re-establishing one’s reputation as a man to be feared and respected. Some observers have related this explanation to Islam’s ban on suicide, which, it is suggested, drove Malay men to create circumstances in which others would kill them. Evidence for this explanation is that the incidence of amok seems to be less where amok runners are captured and tried, rather than being beaten to death on the spot.

So it’s basically Islamic suicide by cop.

What worries me is why Dawn wants a whole thread to talk about it. I’m thinking…cry for help. Then I’m thinking, “hey, I don’t live anywhere near this woman. What do I care?”

I’m practicing my [cyber]neighbor-of-the-perp speech: “No, I’m shocked. Absolutely shocked. She was a quiet woman, kept to herself. None of us knew her all that well. Still, we never expected anything like this.”

Ow. Here comes the toe hurty.

June 25, 2007 — 5:42 pm
Comments: 34

Like a bison


O.E. weosule, wesle “weasel,” from P.Gmc. *wisulon (cf. O.N. visla, M.Du. wesel, Du. wezel, O.H.G. wisula, Ger. Wiesel), probably related to P.Gmc. *wisand- “bison” (see bison), with a base sense of “stinking animal,” because both animals have a foul, musky smell (cf. L. vissio “stench”). The verb “to deprive (a word or phrase) of its meaning” is first attested 1900, so used because the weasel sucks out the contents of eggs, leaving the shell intact; the sense of “extricate oneself (from a difficult place) like a weasel” is first recorded 1925; that of “to evade and equivocate” is from 1956. A John Wesilheued (“John Weaselhead”) turns up on the Lincolnshire Assize Rolls for 1384,
but the name seems not to have endured, for some reason.

June 12, 2007 — 2:05 pm
Comments: 4

Word of the day: crepuscular

It means an animal that is active in twilight (as opposed to nocturnal or diurnal). I ran across it in an article about weasels (which are mostly crepuscular, unless they get the wicked munchies). Crepuscular can be further divided into matinal and vespertine — active at dawn or dusk. Derived, I assume, from the morning and evening prayers matins and vespers.

Animals can change their time orientation in response to local threats (such as the presence or absence of certain predators). I assume living on the edges of human civilization tends to push animals toward being nocturnal or crepuscular. At least, in my own experience hiking suburban conservation lands, I am far more likely to see animals when I go out very early or stay out late.

March 29, 2007 — 8:58 am
Comments: 14