Monday, June 26, 2017



I hope everyone's Pride Day was enjoyable.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017



Happy Pride Month, everyone!

Note: While spring cleaning, I found interview transcripts I did in the 1980s and 1990s. I plan to post them on this blog. So please stay tuned.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Learning About The Human Eye Via A Grammar Textbook

Recently, while browsing through an old English grammar textbook, published in 1958, and designed for ninth-grade students, I learned something very interesting about the human eye--that we actually see the world upside down.

In a ten-sentence sample essay about how the eye sees objects, sentence seven begins, "Do you know that pictures of things around you enter the eye upside down?" The next sentence explains that "Your brain reverses the images for you." I never knew that.

To verify the accuracy of that bit of information, I asked my ophthalmologist about this and he confirmed it. So it is possible to learn something about biology even from an old grammar textbook. And what I learned underscores how amazing an organ the brain is.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Searching For The Word "Upscuttle"

I recently flipped through an old, battered dictionary that I own with the express purpose of looking up the definition of  "gulag." My search was prompted by a radio interview I  had heard that detailed the brutalization of inmates by guards at an upstate New York prison.

That brought to mind the late "Grandpa" Al Lewis, a former cast member of the 1960s sitcom, The Munsters, and his comparing American prisons to gulags, or Soviet prison camps, on his weekly New York-based radio show on WBAI.

While looking up the word, I found a slip of paper tucked inside the dictionary on which I had written the word "upscuttle" and the name of the person I had heard use it, conservative talk show radio host Barry Farber. I probably heard him use the word sometime in the 1980s when he was on the air late nights on New York's WMCA. ("Upscuttle" is not a word you hear every day.) Unfortunately, I neglected to write down how he used the word in a sentence.

I searched for the word in the same battered dictionary, but I couldn't find it. Neither could I find it in five other dictionaries in my apartment, including the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and a huge dictionary that weighs almost as much as a ten-pound bag of sugar.

Here is 's definition of "upscuttle": "When everything in a given area seems to go topsy-turvy at once. A sudden capsizing of circumstances and conditions."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What Do You Call A Massachusetts Resident?

I knew that a person from New York State is called a New Yorker, a person from California is called a Californian, and a person from Texas is called a Texan. But what do you call someone who hails from Massachusetts or Connecticut? None of my dictionaries were helpful on this particular question.

So I finally consulted the ever trusty Internet to solve this mystery and learned a new word--demonym. 

What is a demonym?  It's a word used by geographers to describe where a person comes from. The website I consulted via my cell phone listed the demonyms for all fifty states alphabetically.

I learned that a resident of Connecticut is a Connecticuter and a person from Massachusetts is a Massachusettsan. Do the people in those states know this? The next time I talk to someone from either of those states I will ask them.

Here are some other demonyms: if you are from Iowa, you are either an Iowan or an Iowegian; if you call Illinois home, you are an Illinoisan (pronounced, I assume, Ill-leh-noy-an) or an Illinian (pronounced, again I assume, Ill-len-nee-an); a resident of Maine is called a Mainer or a Maineaker
(pronounced either Main-ah-ker or May-nee-ack-er). The last one sounds a little insulting. Maineite or Mainester might be better. And if you are firmly rooted in the state of Wyoming, you are a Wyomingite.

I now know --as well as lexicographers, I hope--what to call persons living in Connecticut and Massachusetts.