The Write Way
8 November 2002
Mrs Malaprop Lives...
You don't need me to tell you that time flies ... Here it is, the Melbourne Cup again! When the country stops to listen and watch as a few squillion dollars' worth of horses run around a paddock with skinny jockeys sitting on their backs ... (Read about last year's Cup.)
Our interest is not with the four-legged thoroughbreds, dear reader, but with their two-legged cousins picnicking in the car park, for it is here the real action takes place.
Let's teeter down on our four-inch stilettos and see what's afoot ...
Why are we not surprised to see Lavinia holding court with her chums? Just look at her, the little pet ... She's the very pineapple of politeness as she passes out the poached prawn paté. But then, what would you expect, eh? We know she shines in any social milieu - there's no fear of her hiding her laurels under a bushel.
Melbourne Cup Picnics present Ladies-Who-Lunch, like Lavinia, with a dilemma; you could go so far as to say that she's caught on the horns of her own petard when it comes time to confront that burning question: what to wear. Should she heed the weather forecast of scattered showers and possible storms and pack the plastic Mac? Or should she follow her instinct and wear the snazzy little off-the-shoulder number with the saddlery motif repeated on her spectacular Cup-Day Hat?
I'm happy to report that Vin's unerring instinct won the day and she opted for the latter ... as did most of her pals. They're like clowns - all identical in their feathers and flowers. Never have so many birds given up so many tail-feathers for so many hats, and I tell you, trying to pick one from the other is like trying to find a camel in a haystack!
But those wannabes didn't count on Lavinia's resourcefulness and creativity, and now the hat's on the other foot. When the roving judges of the Most Amazing Head Apparel happened upon her hat, replete with lucky horseshoes, nut-brown snaffle bridle, French Link Eggbutt bit and hunting breastplate with German elastic insert, they were anonymous in their decision ... Fortunately the voting is always done by secret ballad, which has spared the judges the embarrassment of having to witness the breakdown of the other contestants.
In her acceptance speech Lavinia generously paid tribute to her pals and the support they'd given her during those dour winter months of planning the perfect hat. She commented that they were the anchor that had kept her afloat during the storm of indecision that often affronted her in that long, dark teatime of the soul, and she finished by saying that the experience of winning had made her feel humidified.
As she unscrewed the top of the Jerobaum of the finest Fizzy Wine (the prize she so generously shared with all her chums), she told anyone who would listen that this was the promise on which she based her whole life: to always do under others as you would have them do under you.
What can I say?
That perchance she needs to renew her acquaintance with Richard Sheridan's wonderful play, The Rivals? You can read it online. Click on Read, then Choose a Section (Drama), click on Richard Sheridan, click on The Rivals to get to the text. Ignore the Error 404 File Not Found message that keeps coming up ... not sure why that happens! Just click on the links to different Acts and Pages at the top to keep reading.
The moral of this tale is to make sure you know the meaning of words before you use them - not that any of us would ever make these mistakes ...
This week's quiz:
Choose the odd word in each set:
1. combination, purity, alloy, amalgam
2. friendship, animosity, enmity, malice
3. precursor, forerunner, follower, antecedent
4. antithesis, opposite, reverse, agreement
5. true, spurious, apocryphal, doubtful
6. annoy, appease, pacify, soothe
7. return, secure, appropriate, seize
8. dated, modern, quaint, archaic
9. austere, ascetic, modest, ostentatious
10.industrious, painstaking, careless, assiduousHere's a wonderful site Carol Cumberland discovered (It was Refdesk Link of the Day). If you're ever stuck for a word - this is THE place to find it!
Go to Visual Thesaurus and follow the directions.
When your word appears, run your mouse over the dots to get examples of the word in use and definitions; follow the dotted lines to find antonyms and the unbroken lines to find synonyms. Keep watching the box on the right for definitions of words you hover over. Double click on words to start up new threads ...
Truly amazing, astonishing and astounding!
Changing the subject completely ... One expression that has worked its way into our language is "catch 22." We use it to describe those lose-lose situations that we face with such appalling regularity at times. Most people know that it takes its name from a novel - but do you know the details?
Well ... funny you should ask ...
In the novel, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, his characters, Yossarian and Doc Deneeka discuss ways to get out of dangerous combat duty by getting themselves grounded because of insanity. The catch was, you could only be grounded if you were mad ... you had to ask to be grounded ... and anyone who asked to be grounded clearly wasn't mad. Lose-lose!
You might enjoy these light bulb stories that Linda found:
How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?
Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence. They co-existed in a parallel universe, though.
How many publishers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Three. One to screw it in. Two to hold down the author.
How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Two. One to screw it almost all the way in, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.
How many screenwriters does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Why does it have to be changed?
How many cover blurb writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A VAST AND TEEMING HORDE STRETCHING FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA!
Last week's quiz:
Match each word below with its definition:
The week before last week's quiz:
Talk about having eagle ears! Richard spotted this from last week's answers:
1. juxtaposition: to place side by side TRUE
"Juxtaposition" is a noun; your definition fits the verb
"juxtapose". (Richard Tinsley)
Then add a flag and message to the Map of the World: http://pub37.bravenet.com/guestmap/view.php?usernum=3170114826 You can read the previous 99 messages by clicking on the List button at the top of the page.
A Little Something Extra
Now here's an interesting idea for writing - what about putting pen to paper and coming up with some ideas for video game producers? No, really! Read what writer, Melissa Brewer has to say about this very lucrative market niche. http://www.write101.com/gaming.htm
Word of the week: Agraffe (n) The wire that holds the cork in a champagne bottle (Sadly not one Lavinia and her chums will need to know!) According to dictionary.com this word also is used to refer to a "hook-and-loop arrangement used for a clasp on armor and clothing; a cramp iron for holding stones together in building." Definitely a word for all purposes.
Oxymoron of the week: A just war
This week's Latin phrase is tailor made for Lavinia:
Id tibi praebet speciem lepidissimam! (It looks great on you!)
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