Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Please Use This Word

This is a post about a word- one of my favorite words. Please, in fact, USE it--it has been dropped from the dictionary, help to bring it back!

I stumbled on the word years ago while reading the dictionary, something I do for pleasure.

Reading the dictionary, in fact, is something entertaining you can do, such as on a date etc., don't you agree?

I knew someone who was bored by books but loved to read dictionaries. His bookshelves were filled not with books but with every sort of dictionary. He started reading Webster's at "A" and was working his way through. 
'Rainbow A-Z' book art: Karen Hanmer
Karen Hanmer's website link

When I met him he was only on "E." I ran into him a couple of years later and he announced, "I made it to 'Z'!" He had an amazing memory and in this way memorized all the words in the English language.

The word I am trying to popularize is a word from the field of Botany. I found this word in the New Collegiate Webster's many years ago. However, a few years later the word was dropped. Words are dropped from the dictionary as they fall out of use. 

I believe it disappeared because, being a Botany term, nobody used it except botanists. 

That's the problem. People should have recognized what great usefulness this word could have outside the field of Botany. I see in this word so much potential for use in everyday life. Consider it:
Prof. Zee's website link
WORD ORIGIN:  from Greek: peloros, "monstrous," from pelor, "monster."

Example of peloria:

Clover. Clover has an ODD number of leaves, three. That is to say, it is normal for clover to have an irregular number of leaves (3).

Occasionally there is an abnormality-- a four leaf clover- that is, a clover with an even number of leaves. 
In other words, for clover, it is abnormal to have a regular, even number of 

The beautiful symmetry of a four-leaf clover is a peloria, a "monster."

"Unusual regularity in the form of a flower that is normally
site link

"The phenomenon of a regular structure appearing as an
 abnormality in flowers which are usually irregular."

Or as I put it: An abnormally normal flower [or anything] that is normally abnormal.

Gabi Rona
© MPTVimages site link

Do you see how much potential there is in this word- to use well beyond the province of just Botany and flowers? 

Consider all the other sorts of possibilities in our daily lives!

For example: the Munsters had a niece who was all Doris Day-blonde, blue-eyed, cheerful, wholesome. They thought she was very strange and felt sorry for her. She was their peloria, their "monster."
And it sounds pretty, too. . . Peloria. . . It doesn't sound like a technical term at all. Its mellifluous flow can be slipped right into the first sentence of your novel.

A word that truly fills a vacant place in our vocabulary. What a complex thought, that can now be expressed with just one word!

Please join me in using "peloria" creatively in everyday speech, bring it to life as it deserves to be used. 
Let me know if you think of a good use.
Please comment below

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


                  cover of Poets and Writers. Photo by Eve Arnold 1954
           publisher: Abrams Books, Eve Arnold's photos of Marilyn: website link

Look closely at Marilyn's book, yes it is Ulysses **
. . . Looks like she's at the end, probably the monologue . .
I don't have the right to put Molly's entire monologue, as I didn't read the book (only parts here and there, actually), so I'll just put the very end. Molly's monologue has absolutely no punctuation, just one long sentence lasting several pages, and ends the book.

This year on Broadway, Molly is read by Fionnula Flanagan, famous since 1968 for her interpretations of Joyce roles:

. . . Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

                            Fionnula now, still beautiful     photo: abc                                      
** A letter from Eve Arnold about the day she took the photo:

“We worked on a beach on Long Island…I asked her what she was reading when I went to pick her up (I was trying to get an idea of how she spent her time). She said she kept Ulysses in her car and had been reading it for a long time.

"She said she loved the sound of it and would read it aloud to herself to try to make sense of it–but she found it hard going. She couldn’t read it consecutively.

"When we stopped at a local playground to photograph she got out the book and started to read while I loaded the film. So, of course, I photographed her.”

I hear it from Joyce fanatics that surely this must be the way Joyce intended his work to be read- as Marilyn, and in fact as I, dip into it here and there, moment to moment, epiphany to epiphany; and to read aloud.

Richard Brown at the HRC (UT) said "You can pick it up and put it down, of course, as Joyce himself picked it up and put it down as he was writing the book over a period of fifteen to sixteen years."

There is not even a need to understand what you are reading: how many people understand their favorite poems?

Eve Arnold's letter from: R.B. Kershner, Joyce and Popular Culture.
Richard Brown interview:
Photo: first found on (thanks!):
For more about Eve Arnold:

Please comment, below

Quick Gum Lesson

2005, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
AnnaSophia Robb

(See the Violet Beauregarde Song at end of post)

Chewing gum is made of latex which is the principle component of rubber. Chewing gum is made with the raw version of the same rubber that is used for tires. The manufacturing process of basic chewing gum has stayed about the same for over a century.

For economic reasons after WWII the US "launched on an intensive campaign to produce a synthetic rubber, second only in cost to the production of the nuclear bomb."

Insoluble plastics are often mixed with or substituted for the base. Gumballs are coated in plastic. A list of ingredients in chewing gum can tally up to 100 chemical constituents.

"Difference Between Chewing Gum And Bubble Gum"

Lilburn Elem. School, GA website link
Chewing gum does not degrade. Ever. It also adheres to surfaces and chemically locks into place.

It may not seem like much when you spit your gum out on the sidewalk, but gum on public surfaces has become a big problem, because it is so annoying, and because removal is extremely expensive and labor-intensive.

Britain has innovated "Gum targets." These are gum "disposal boards," in various amusing designs, such as this British bobby, set up on the street for people to stick their gum onto, rather than spit it out. Yes really!

For the gum target website "Keeping Britain Beautiful" see:

Even politicians have become involved, lobbying to have gum companies taxed until they start using fully biodegradable gums and which do not adhere permanently.
John Stillwell's website link
Especially in Singapore. IN SINGAPORE, CHEWING GUM HAS BEEN ILLEGAL since 1992.

The ban came after someone stuck a wad in the door of a high-speed commuter train, causing a rare delay in service.

 Not only is it illegal to import or manufacture it in Singapore, people are not even allowed to bring in their own, no matter how small the quantity.

United States President Bill Clinton, and then President George W. Bush, met with Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok to discuss a bilateral free trade agreement between the two countries.

War and chewing gum

“Details of the closed-door negotiations are unknown, but it became apparent that by the final phase of the negotiation in early 2003, THERE REMAINED TWO UNRELATED ISSUES: THE WAR IN IRAQ AND CHEWING GUM.” (Wikipedia)

They came to a compromise: the Wrigley Company managed to get the ban modified so that medicinal gums could be sold in Singapore. It can only be sold now by dentists and pharmacists, who must take down the names of buyers.


Dolph Brisco Center for American History, Univ. of Texas: 
The Mexican general Santa Anna, who won at the Alamo, but was living in exile in New Jersey by 1869, was interested in manufacturing a cheap replacement for rubber.

He collaborated with an American, Thomas Adams, who was unable to make it work. However, Adams decided it was good as chewing gum, and founded the American Chicle Company, renamed and still around today.

With the help of Santa Anna’s ideas, Adams was the first to make a latex-based chewing gum as we know it today. Some people refer to  SANTA ANNA As the man who brought chewing gum to America.    

Descendants of Goodyear, the inventor of the vulcanization process of rubber, now produce chewing gum in Houston.
As for William Wrigley, he started out selling soap.

Lester S. Levy Collection @Johns Hopkins:

Gum-chewing became a favorite 1890s pastime. When songwriters recognized its popularity, they wrote songs like She Chews Gum. 
[lyrics and sheet music below- strikingly similar to a song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, also see below]

Gum trivia:
It was reported in 2001 that tests showed that chewing gum resulted in some MEMORY AND ATTENTION TESTS RESULTING IN 24% HIGHER PERFORMANCE THAN NON-CHEWERS.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

But Art is Long

Sorry my posts are so LONG. I don't know what else to do- that's how long it takes me to say what I have to say.

p.s. please note my added commentary to "Gender Bender"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gender Bender: Are you willing to sacrifice your electronics, your plastic . . .

Smithsonian mag website link
When I first read this information on Amap a few years ago, I wondered if it was a hoax.

Perhaps something from the fanciful Weekly World News (Researcher Calculates A Snowball's Chance in Hell to be .000000000134% !) [actual headline] or even the spoof paper The Onion.
It was just too bizarre, too shocking to be true. I have since learned that it is quite real. Also strange: why is nobody talking about this? 

There are many who hold that this information is all rumor and legend. I feel I have found good enough sources, plus it suits my logic.
The Guardian, September 12, 2007
[Pictures my selection]

Man-made chemicals blamed as many more girls
than boys are born in Arctic
· High levels can change sex of child during pregnancy
· Survey of Greenland and east Russia PUTS RATIO AT 2:1
by Paul Brown in Nuuk, Greenland
                                  Joel Sartore/Getty/National Geographic
                        An Inuit child in a traditional parka

Twice as many girls as boys are being born in some Arctic villages because of high levels of man-made chemicals in the blood of pregnant women, according to scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (Amap).

The scientists, who say the findings could explain the recent excess of girl babies across much of the northern hemisphere, are widening their investigation across the most acutely affected communities in Russia, Greenland and Canada to try to discover the size of the imbalance in Inuit communities of the far north.

In the communities of Greenland and eastern Russia monitored so far, the ratio was found to be two girls to one boy. In one village in Greenland only girls have been born.

The scientists measured the man-made chemicals in women's blood that mimic human hormones and concluded that they were CAPABLE OF TRIGGERING CHANGES IN THE SEX OF UNBORN CHILDREN IN THE FIRST THREE WEEKS OF GESTATION.

.          funny but not funny
Lars-Otto Reierson, executive secretary for Amap, said: "We knew that the levels of man-made chemicals were accumulating in the food chain, and that seals, whales and particularly polar bears were getting a dose a million times higher than that existing in plankton, and that this could be toxic to humans who ate these higher animals. What was shocking was that they were also  ABLE TO CHANGE THE SEX OF CHILDREN BEFORE BIRTH."



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Not Me. Ibsen Said it First.

                                                               Henrik Ibsen, web link
They talk faster because they think faster. Than us, that is. They look at a computer monitor filled with complication and interpret it with the sharpness of a pilot distinguishing the shapes and colors he sees 50,000 feet below him. Who? Children.

They write 20-page book reports. I did too! Only they did it in grammar school. Where writing poetry was something I had to discover on my own, they have classes in it 5 and up. And don’t get me started on computer-savvy: intricate computer games with NO instructions, and 200 facebook friends. I don’t even KNOW 200 people. Television images speed by so fast that only THEY can focus. NPR specials on “millionaires under the age of 10.” Little girls playing soccer; with ferocious drive to win.

         Barbie computer game, CD-ROM for PC computer

Even the youngest kid has the instant come-back to flatten whoever bothers them.  When I see a seated child, her little legs stretched out in front of her, too short to reach the ground, pretty pink shoes, and a little white bow in her hair, I give her a big smile because we are allowed to be familiar with children; at least, we used to be. This little one stares me down coldly without moving so much as an eyelid. She lets me know that I have assumed far too much, and I must back down, look away.

Another cute little one in her pink cashmere jacket with a big daisy, and her Barbie backpack, waiting for the subway, vigorously berating her humbled father who stands with head bowed. Apparently she disagrees with his adult judgment, some rule he has set for her, and its consequences.
                           'Sulking Child' by Jez C. Self
                                 website link                 
                                     . . . exactly like this

With glowering eyebrows curved like an archery bow, she accuses him that he is unfair. With all the wisdom of her seven years on earth, her indignation so agitating her little body that she hops from one foot to the other on her pretty patent shoes. At one point she whirls around, as she crosses her arms and shows him her back, to insult him.

Does he say flatly: I am the father, I make the rules, you are the child, you listen to me? No he pleads with her, cedes to her, taking the argument on the terms she has defined, not on his.

Finding myself next to a fifth grader at the dinner table (that’s 10 years old), naturally I looked for common ground by asking if she liked Harry Potter. As you know, I love to talk about Harry Potter. She screwed up her face. I DID, she said-- but that was THIRD grade. Oh no. In an instant I felt so- juvenile.
Sanders, lyneesheritage.wordpress

Two boys in the cafeteria section of Whole Foods, 20 feet apart throwing a ball as customers pass back and forth. Someone manly-looking with a Spanish accent tells the parents to make them stop.

They attempt it feebly, and as the children pay them no attention, they begin to gather up their things and say We have to go.

NO said one boy, I want ice cream. No, we have to go. They continue their packing.
NO I want ice cream. The next thing I know he’s got ice cream. This wasn’t just a case of spoiling; they looked so quiet- so SCARED of him.

What a perfect idiot I was at that age. I didn’t understand human nature, I was stumbling through life. I didn’t understand the finer points of getting along with people, of making decisions, and I certainly had never asked myself what I wanted to do for a living, not until ten minutes after college graduation.

It took my generation of adults a very long time before we began to understand ourselves. It wasn’t until we were already adults before the first self-help books came out, the first how-to television shows and magazine articles, telling us how to follow our noses.
                                                  (cards by Dr. Steven Richfield) **
Our children, on the other hand, were right there learning along with us. They have been raised from scratch in our era of how-to books, television psychiatrists and sarcastic, adult-themed sitcoms. They have parents who spare the rod and reason with them instead. As the child careens down the supermarket aisle, the parent has bent down, begging, coaxing: Now what did we say about listening to me?

You’ve read all this before and I’ve already gone on too much. Complained too much. I haven’t googled the topic but I suspect there are lots of people like me taking great pleasure in knocking this target. I’m taking too much pleasure in it myself.

The children are spoiled, entitled; but then, they do have mastery, real mastery. In fact, they have made this new world. Our world was touchy-feely. Theirs is go and grab. How will I survive in the world they are creating, a world without mercy?
[Created in 1899, Jean Marc Cote's vision of a classroom in the year 2000 illustrates the long history of technological fantasies about education. The students are connected to a network placed on their heads, although they sit at desks in disciplined rows, all faced towards the front, while the teacher feeds them books via a kind of mechanical mincing machine.] picture used by David Buckingham in "Beyond Technology..."

We managed to learn to use a computer instead of a typewriter; but it was people born after, say, 1965 who are agile in a world transformed by internet, social media, etc., new skills that they grew up using. How can we compete with them for jobs- when all the job-descriptions have changed beyond recognition?

On every level, they have mastery. They understand the world far better than I did; they take part in, control and excel in things; and they know that. They are strong mentally and physically. It’s what protects them, what gives them their confidence, their courage.

But I know there is a lot going on below. Beneath the flung insult, a child is hiding his fear. Beneath the bragging, a child’s insecurity. Cold judgment protecting a raw sensitivity. They are, after all, just children. But I have to keep reminding myself of that. Why don’t they ACT like it? WE did.

by Hildegard of Bingen
It’s painfully obvious that I, childless, have far less to gain in the boundlessness of our youth, than do people with children. Through their children, mothers and fathers claim a personal stake in the future. The attainments of their children only make parents stronger themselvesWhereas for me rather than benefit, it’s competition.

There are many older people who are large and generous enough that they, even if childless, take the greatest pleasure in ushering in the new ones, giving them as much of themselves as they can.

They understand that children are everybody's investment, and the more equipped children are, the better the chances for our world. I know such people, their faces always a bit glowing, and certainly beloved. And as a teacher, I suppose that in my way I do the same.

But I can’t help sympathizing with Ibsen’s Master Builder. Solness at middle age is considered the greatest architect in the region. It is significant that he too has no children. His reputation is firmly established:
yalerep website link
. . . Ah, yes, Mr. Solness, you have undoubtedly had the luck on your side.

 [Looking at him with embarrassment.] Yes, but that is just what makes me so horribly afraid. .


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Legendary Phantom Football Match: the strangest sports broadcast of all time

Hibs v Hearts 1935

"It is a dashing tale involving wartime heroism, broadcasting in the face of adversity and the strangest ever Edinburgh football derby, which must rank as the most electrifying in the game’s history. Rarely has a contest produced so many brave performances, blistering goals and heroic saves.

"Unknown to the fans of both teams, this really was fantasy football. The game’s action had been fictionalized by the commentator.

"The game made a legend out of radio voice Bob Kingsley, known as Rex, who was sent by the BBC to cover the game for the armed forces’ service as a treat for soldiers overseas. It was the 1940 New Year’s Day game between Hibs v Hearts at Easter Road (Edinburgh, stadium of the Hibs).

"Unfortunately, a thick fog descended on the stadium and when he sat in the commentary box, he could see neither the players nor the ball. The players themselves couldn’t see as far as their bootlaces.

"When Kingsley turned up he expected to be sent home early because of the fog. Football historian Bob Crampsey tells us that Kingsley asked 'very reasonable questions' as to whether the game should be abandoned, but they were ignored. Why, you might wonder, did the fixture go ahead if the weather was so awful?

"It was because the BBC chiefs had been ordered not to cancel the game. The BBC’s head of outside broadcasts, Leo Hunter, informed Kingsley that the match would go ahead and he would have to give a commentary, because to cancel the game would alert German pilots as to the state of the weather in Edinburgh.

Bridge at the Firth of Forth, in good weather

A. R. Miller  link is here

"Kingsley was told on no account must he mention the weather. The Nazi Luftwaffa must not find out that there was a heavy fog over the Firth of Forth, for fear of hastening an airstrike on the bridge. And so, with the Forth Railway Bridge near the top of the enemy’s ‘hit list,’ Kingsley had to go about his work as though nothing was wrong.

An RAF plane battles with a Luftwaffe plane over Tower Bridge, London, 
during the Battle of Britain in 1940-41. link is here

" 'If you can’t see what’s happening” he was told, “make it up.' "

As the writer put it, "Fawlty Towers 40 years ahead of itself."

"From his seat in the stand, Kingsley watched in stunned horror as the teams came out of the fog and passed the broadcasting hut, and then disappeared into the muck.

Easter Road stadium 1950
"He set about covering the match, even though he could see nothing on the pitch (the sports field). He could only see two players - Donaldson, the Hearts left-winger, and Gilmartin, the Hibernian right-winger. So a complex system of runners and information chains were set up by the struggling

BBC man to make sure he covered the game’s major talking points, such as goals and corner kicks.

"But Kingsley was still forced to invent descriptions of other highlights of the match. And there was plenty, as Hearts won a thriller 6 goals to 5. Starved of immediate information, Kingsley bravely soldiered on, resorting to inventing descriptions of marvelous saves and scorching efforts on goal.

"Kingsley also depended on the reaction he heard from the crowd of some 12,000-14,000 football fans at Easter Road. From the cheers of the crowd he could tell when a goal had been made- the problem was that he couldn't tell for sure which side had made it! He had to send his runners out to see. The size of the roar probably helped indicate Hibs or Hearts, because it was a home game for Hibs.

Hearts logo
"It was said that he let his imagination run wild, making up a sunny match packed with outrageous goals. Bob Crampsey said, 'Kingsley was buoyed only by the knowledge that if he could not see the pitch, few people were in a position to contradict him.'

"Kingsley was slightly disappointed to later find the real thing had ended even more fantastically, Hearts 6-5. Remarkably, the game lived up to the fictional commentary. * Unfortunately many in the crowd, thinking the game was a wash, had already left before the end, and missed the climax. Others were only informed that the match had finished 10 minutes after the final whistle.

"Unaware of the game’s conclusion, Kingsley continued 'describing' the action for 15 minutes after the final whistle.

Hibs logo
"Even some of the players did not know the final whistle had gone, and lingered on the pitch for an extra ten minutes. The official records show that Hearts won 6-5.

"Shortly after the end of the game, as the exhausted Kingsley went off in search of mild restoratives, he heard voices inquiring for Donaldson, the Hearts left-winger, who had not returned to the dressing room with the other players.

"A search party was despatched. He was found loyally patrolling his beat on the far side of the field, calling forlornly to team-mates who had long since gone off and waiting for a ball to emerge from the swirling mist. He hadn’t realised it was all over."

PLAYING A BLINDER (radio play 2002 about this game) . .

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Knitted Elvis Wigs

The inventor of these knitted Elvis wigs, Simon Thackray, is wearing the pink one.

If you would like to knit your own, here is the pattern:

Simon Thackary is famous for such oddball events as the Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race, in which the boats are made of actual Yorkshire pudding:

Thackary runs The Shed, a North Yorkshire poetry and music venue.

review from The Guardian:

"The insiders' guide to the world's best small music venues- Musicians, DJs and authors to reveal their favourite hangouts
by Hank Wangford:
"The Shed was the inspiration for my tour of village halls around Britain, which I am currently writing up as a book. And, after 235 villages, The Shed is still the loony best."

website home: The Shed