The Write Way
21 October 2005
I was pottering in the kitchen one afternoon earlier this week, trying to decide what to have for dinner ... opening the fridge, then the pantry, then the veggie bin ... hoping for something to leap up, wave and cry, "Pick me! Pick me!" Because that's the most difficult part of preparing meals, I always think ... the deciding what to have.
I'd be quite happy for the Love of My Life to stride into the kitchen each day and announce, "Tonight we're having Beef Strog ... Stir-fried tofu with chilli sauce ... Chicken Surprise ... " or anything really, just as long as I didn't have to come up with the ideas every day.
So there I was ... wandering aimlessly from cook book to freezer and back again when my attention was diverted by an item on the radio. It was about a new form of underwear that contains silver threads ...
Underwear with Silver Threads?
"Why do you need underwear with silver threads?" I hear you ask. And that was my first thought as well. It seems, dear reader, that the incorporation of silver threads in your undies means that you can then wear them for days at a time and they don't smell ...
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't you assume that anyone who had to wear their undies for days at a time wouldn't be likely to have the wherewithal (or even the wear-with-all) to fund the purchase of silver-enhanced pants?
And if you could afford silver knickers, wouldn't you also be able to afford a couple of extra pairs so you could change them every day?
"Dear, oh, dear," I thought as I listened, "what is the world coming to?"
Could you think of anything worse than wearing the same undies day in and day out ... by choice? I mean, I can understand that there may be times and circumstances when it could be necessary ... if you were lost at sea, caught on a precipice by an avalanche while climbing a mountain, marooned on a deserted island ...
There obviously had to be more to this tale than the grimace factor, so off I went to my best mate, google, where I found the source of my original story. It seems we have the Romans to blame for this silver thing, for they were the ones who first discovered that silver has anti-bacterial properties. In fact, they used to keep their milk fresh by dropping a silver coin in the jug! (I wouldn't try that these days with our composite coins. If you want to know what's in your coins ... here's all you could ever need.)
And this silver undie idea is apparently already quite common ... for soldiers! The US Army apparently incorporates 5% silver in special underwear for soldiers who are going to be away from the comforts of base for any length of time.
Not a pretty thought, is it?
But it doesn't stop there ... technology is leading us into new worlds: "The latest thing is underpants made up of different types of fabrics that do different jobs: an anti-bacterial fabric to keep the gusset smelling sweet; perforated, wicking panels around the groin to suck up moisture; and hidden silicon strips in the legs to stop your undies riding up."
Gosh! It's enough to make your hair stand on end, isn't it?
Have you ever wondered where we get some of these expressions?
To make your hair stand on end comes from the way the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you're afraid, and was even mentioned in the Book of Job, "Fear came upon me and trembling and the hair of my flesh stood up."
It's from this that we also get the slang term "hairy" to describe something frightening ... "She's just learning to drive, and that was a hairy ride home!"
And since we've been discussing our nether regions, you might be interested to know the origin of the term 'in like Flynn.' We owe this to Aussie movie star, Errol Flynn, who had "a way with the ladies" (as My Grandma used to say).
No, I'm not going to explain it any further!
And one more that also relates to our topic of apparel ... 'put a sock in it.' This useful expression dates back to the early days of gramophones, when the music came out of the speaker horn and there were only two controls: On and Off. To adjust the volume, you could stuff a cloth (or sock) into the horn.
So now when we tell someone to put a sock in it, we're only repeating that age-old cry of mothers, "Turn that music down!"
Read more about smart fabrics here (just ignore the misuse of the apostrophe ... I'm sure it's just a typo!) And read more about idioms in this week's Little Something Extra.
And for those of you who'd like to make some money from your writing ... here's something new ... It will only take a couple of minutes to read, and it could be just what you've looking for to start earning money from your writing!
This week's quiz:
Here are some interesting words ... some are so bleeding obvious, while others aren't what you're expecting at all!
footle, debridement, fabulist, abecedarian, frigorific, cacography, cilice, drawcansir, endgame, fartlek
1. to waste time; trifle; to talk nonsense
2. athletic training technique, used especially in running, in which periods of intense effort alternate with periods of less strenuous effort in a continuous workout
3. blustering, bullying fellow; a pot-valiant braggart; a bully
4. a novice learning the rudiments of some subject
5. causing coldness; chilling
6. final stage of an extended process or course of events
7. bad handwriting; bad spelling
8. surgical excision of dead, devitalised or contaminated tissue and removal of foreign matter from a wound
9. coarse cloth
10. a person who tells or invents fables
Q. What comes out of a tank and says, Knickers, knockers, knickers?
A. Crude oil.
Q. What comes out of a tank and says, Underwear, underwear, underwear?
A. Refined oil.
Last week's quiz:
Match these up and you'll have a word for every nip and tuck or cut and tuck your little celebrity-heart desires:
abdominoplasty, blepharoplasty, Botox, dermabrasion, dermalogen, lipoplasty, otoplasty, rhytidectomy, rhinoplasty, septoplasty
1. the surgical correction of defects and deformities of the partition between the nostrils - SEPTOPLASTY
2. eyelid lift - BLEPHAROPLASTY (a procedure in which the physician surgically removes excess fat, muscle, and skin from both the upper and lower eyelids to redefine the shape of the eye ... Now bat your Baby Blues ...)
3. the surgical repair of a defect of the nose, including reshaping or resizing the nose - RHINOPLASTY (this may be performed to change the size of the nose, change the shape of the nose, narrow the nostrils, and/or change the angle between the nose and lips; it involves the re-sculpting of the bone and cartilage. And aren't you a tint bit perturbed that the root of this word also gives us rhinoceros?)
4. facelift - RHYTIDECTOMY (a surgical procedure that involves the removal of excess facial fat, the tightening of facial muscles, and the stretching of facial skin - to approximate a smoother, firmer appearance. The procedure takes place on either the face, neck, or both. You know this one ... It's when they pull your face skin so tight you wear a permanently surprised expression.)
5. tummy tuck - ABDOMINOPLASTY (the surgeon makes a long incision from one side of the hipbone to the other. Excess fat and skin are surgically removed from the middle and lower abdomen and the muscles of the abdomen wall are tightened. And doesn't that sound like fun?)
6. a type of cosmetic plastic surgery procedure aimed at setting prominent ears closer to the head, or reducing the size of larger ears - OTOPLASTY
7. a substance derived from botulism toxin that works by preventing nerve impulses from reaching the muscle, causing the muscle to relax - BOTOX (Do the words 'deadly poison' mean anything to you? Read more about botulism, the cheery little mite that gave the world Botox here.)
8. product derived from human donor tissue that is used in lip augmentation to produce a look of fuller lips - DERMALOGEN (Now this is just too awful to contemplate ...dead men's lips ... Actually, dermalogen is "derived from cadavers at the time of death. Usually their dermis or muscle fascia (the gray/white covering over the muscles) or tissue-derived collagen is harvested and brought to the lab, for sterilisation and other tests and processing that allows the allograft (a piece of tissue) to become "generic." The processing allows the body to accept the allograft whole heartedly, as its own, although absorption can be a nagging problem resulting in decreased augmentation down the road.")
9. a procedure that removes fine wrinkles and/or minimizes scars on the skin - DERMABRASION (This procedure involves the surgeon utilising a high-speed rotating brush to remove the top layer of skin. The size and depth of the scars, as well as the degree of wrinkling, determine the appropriate level of skin that will be surgically sloughed. What a pretty turn of phrase!)
10. cosmetic procedure in which a special instrument called a canula is used to break up and suck out fat from the body - LIPOSUCTION (And how attractive does that sound?)
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A Little Something Extra
Bruce Ward wrote last week, "I was just writing to someone, and used the expression, “Hiding your light under a bushell”, and realised that I have no idea of its origin or derivation, and indeed anything about it, except that it suggests that people are hiding the real truth about their success or capacity in some area of life."
A bushel is a measure of volume (about 8 gallons or 2,200 cubic inches) and also a vessel to measure this. A bushel was usually made from wood or pottery, so if anything (such as a candle) was put under it, it wouldn't be visible.
The idiom Bruce asked about comes from the New Testament of the Bible where Jesus says, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick.” (Matthew 5:15)
This is closely connected to other uses of light as a metaphor for greatness, purity, goodness etc. "Let your light shine."
You'll find lots ore idioms explained here at Bartleby: http://www.bartleby.com/59/4/
Word of the week: Poetaster (n) writer of insignificant, meretricious, or shoddy poetry.
This has nothing to do with those who taste 'poes,' or even those who give flowers to poets ... it comes from the Latin poeta (poet) and the pejorative suffix -aster.
Oxymoron of the week: nameless celebrity
And this week's Latin phrase is a warning to anyone whose friends write poetry:
Vesanum poetam qui sapiunt fugiunt (Anyone with a brain flees a versifying poet)
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Copyright 2005 Jennifer Stewart
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