Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moon over Miami

Last night the moon was full and the Earth and Moon were closer togother than they will be again in 2010.

Here's how it looked from our balcony.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

South Beach Balcony Night Views

Looking north from our balcony.
Watching people drop off donations for Haiti in small park across from our building.

Looking south from our balcony.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let’s grab our gobsticks and gobble some grub. (Vocab. #10)

About a month ago my friend, Sandra Kungle, posted this status update on her Facebook:

“Upper East Side, Hunter College at 68th and Lexington, 5 P.M Saturday afternoon.....SIX consecutive cab drivers refused to take a little old lady (me) to Penn Station......gobsmacked!”

Gobsmacked – what a great sounding word. But where did she get it and what does it mean?

Dedicated followers may remember that novelist Shirley Hazzard contributed quite a number of words to my evolving vocabulary project here. One of the reasons Hazzard’s word choices seem fresh to my ear is because she is British. More recently I’ve been reading another Brit: Mark Haddon, who has a contribution here today.

My friend Sandra first heard ‘gobsmacked’ from yet another British attraction: Susan Boyle.

In the British Isles, the word ‘gob’ is slang for mouth. (And I have no issue with slang, as will grow clearer over time, I expect.)

Thus, ‘gobsmacked’ means smacked in the mouth; in other words, speechless or astonished.

Sandra’s post caused the word ‘gobstopper’ to pop into my mind, but again I didn’t know where the word came from or what it meant. A stopper for the mouth? Could it mean something like ‘put a sock in it’? That’s an expression I ruefully admit I’ve used a time or two.

When I tried to check the definition for ‘gobstopper’ however, I came up so empty handed I concluded I’d dreamed the word up myself.

So I moved on. But I happen to be working on a review of Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Among Haddon’s earlier work I find a children’s book called Gilbert’s Gobstopper! Turns out a gobstopper is a large, hard, round confection; state-side, we called it a jawbreaker.

Last but not least, in locating the meaning of ‘gobstopper,’ I found this great alternative for ‘spoon’: ‘gobstick.’

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Can a blog recrudesce? (Vocabulary #9)

About two months ago, I suspended blogging in response to pressing family needs. While several of these needs continue, dealing with them has become routine and it’s time to get back to the business of blogging.

I was in the midst of a vocabulary riff when matters went south and I'd like to resume, recommence and return with a bit of verbal fun -- ideally an unfamiliar but altogether usable word meaning 'to begin again after a break' or 'resume after a hiatus.'

Reverse dictionaries suggest 'recrudesce' (re kroo des), which, in its most generalized sense, means 'to become active again.'

Taken thus, I am tempted to say I am ready to recrudesce, acting with recrudescence to make Tiddlywinks and Pick-up Sticks recrudescent.

Unfortunately, ‘recrudesce’ shares its source with ‘crude’ and, like ‘crude,’ has a somewhat negative connotation. Medical professionals speak of diseases, rashes and sores recrudescing; health, vigor and production could recrudesce but that’s not the most typical use of this unusual word.

So, you can decide. Me? Reviving the blog vocabulary commentary, I intend to resume, recrudecse and rekindle. Next up is a blurb on gob-words. Then, later in the week, watch for what fashion magazines can do for your vocabulary.