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Verschlimmbesserung (n.) German: An intended improvement that actually ends up making something worse. 

Oh those zany Germans! They have the most marvelous words! Leaving well enough alone is like not pressing the already lit elevator button. One just can’t resist. I suppose it is human nature* to not leave things alone but to tinker and poke about hoping to improve on the original only to make a mess of things.  For your edification and entertainment, here’s a few examples of Spo-verschlimmbesserungen.

The Dry Martini.  This classy cocktail consists of gin, vermouth (no rubbish please) and a cocktail onion or olive. There. That’s it. It is simple, eloquent, and tasty – like my men – or was, until people figured it had to be ‘improved upon’.  Alas, one can’t readily go to a bar and ask for proper martini with the assumption the bartender knows what they are doing. Alas, alas, you are asked do you want gin, vodka, or some other spirit. Then there are an array of colorful add-ons that have no business being there. Dry Manhattans are not too close behind in my catalog of complaints about corrupted cocktails.

Opera preludes.  This music was made to evoke a mood state in the listener prior to the curtain going up. The audience is to sit and use their imaginations to set the tone in time for the first scene.  “Never stage the overture” was a sensible rule until modern producers figured the audience would be either bored sitting there without something to see or they needed ‘help’ to understand what the music is about. More often than not one sees a dreadful tableau or an assortment of shenanigans that merely distract from listening to the music. This is the last thing Verdi, Mozart, and that crowd were trying to accomplish in the prelude. Sometimes I just sit there and close my eyes. Sometimes I actually wake to see the opera.

Hotel clocks. The average hotel patron wants three things from a clock: tell the time; play some music; wake me up at a time of my choice. A few simple on/off knobs etc. did nicely.  Last time I was in a hotel room the clock had more options on it than seen in a 747 cockpit. I could not even figure out how to correct the time. I ended up just using my watch.

Coffee. I don’t often buy any but when I do I cringe at the order counter as I view the myriad of options. My eyes cross when I overhear regular patrons of SB ask for a triple, venti, soy, no foam latte or something of that ilk. Urs Truly when he orders is looked upon as an object of suspicion.  Imagine the following:

Yes sir can I help you?

Yes I want a cup of coffee

(Long pause as if I just asked for a dead rat) What sort of coffee?

Just a cup of coffee… er… small.

(Another pregnant pause as the barista contemplates if they should call the manager)  Do you want that tall? 

No, just a plain small cup please

Nothing in it?

(Sensing we are recreating Monty Python’s Cheese shop sketch) No, I am fine with a plain cup.

Which coffee do you want plain?

(Sensing madness coming on) Oh, the house blend.

Shall I leave room for cream or sugar?

(Biting my tongue not to be snarky about the sottish sugar)

No, that will not be necessary. 

Oh OK then.

Small wonder I drink tea.

I could give some other examples of simple things bloated or altered to the point of Kabelsalat but it just depresses me.

Spo-fans are invited to leave in the comment section their personal favorite Verschlimmbesserung – provided you don’t mention medical insurance forms. 

 

*Especially if you are a Virgo.

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I don’t have much to report, so here’s a new set of fabulous words Urs Truly is trying to get to land and stick to his lexicon flypaper.

 

Brummagem – (adj.) cheap, showy, or counterfeit.

Cadge  – (v.) to ask for get something to which one is not strictly entitled

Chicanery – (n.) The use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose.

Euphonious – (adj.) pleasing to the ear.

Harridan – (n.) a strict, bossy, or belligerent woman.

Noisome – (adj.) having an extremely offensive smell.

Prolix – (adj.)  Using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy.

Sapiosexual – (n.) a person who finds intelligence to be sexually attractive.

Sequacious – (adj.) lacking independence or originality of thought.

Tetchy – (adj.) bad-tempered and irritable.

 

BONUS ADD ON <<<

A Gowpen is the cup formed by putting your hands together to make a bowl.  A Yepsen is the amount you can hold in your Gowpen.

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Spo-fans know I am crackers for linguistics, so you can imagine my delight when I woke this morning to the cacophony on the internet, which was all in a swivet about Hair Furor’s  tweet  word “covfefe”.  I found it marvelous. I am glad to see people still care about language and words enough to go ballistic over neologisms and have fun with them as well.  In most cases the history of a word’s evolution is slow and without clear origins.  Covfefe clearly has a precise progenitor. Now starts the fun of watching the nonsense word solidify into one or two precise definitions. I hope my heart-throb ersatz boyfriend Paul Anthony Jones at Haggard Hawks is prophetic when he tweeted:

COVFEFE is an 18th century dialect word meaning ‘to not know what you are doing”.  

I confess I am a bit jealous of HF’s word’s success, for I have made up many words but none have gotten into the public’s general use. One of the fascinating and lovely attributes of English is it is continually bringing in new words, whether borrowed from other languages or created out of bits like Frankenstein’s monster.  This makes English a vibrant and growing language.*

So – if I can’t make them up, I advocate the return of marvelous words that have fallen out of favor.

Here’s some lovelies. Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

 

Blivit – something for which one cannot find a word; something difficult to name.

Boketto – the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking.

Brummagem – cheap, showy, or counterfeit.

Esurient – hungry or greedy.

Expergefactor – something that wakes you up.

Grubbling – the act of searching for small objects in ones pocket or desk drawer. It’s a bit like groping but less organized and specific.

Kenopsia – the eerie atmosphere of a place once bustling with life and activity that is now quiet.

Nerdle – a sudden surprising squeeze of a limb by another which makes the squeezed one jump and startle.

Perfervid – intense and impassioned.

Quisquillious – having the nature of rubbish.

 

Try using some in an email today!

*Compare that to French, where the there is an actual academy to try to keep that language ‘pure’. This feckless endeavor is not even close to being done. I hear tell thems in charge are only up to the letter ‘P” in the book on proper French words. When the officious rule book is concluded it will be both outdated and ignored.

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Note: I wrote a humdinger of a blog post – only to forget it at work.  The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is furious. They disallowed me to ‘wait until tomorrow’; I have to ‘put out’ before midnight or face a penalty so terrible they dare not tell me the details but only hinted I won’t be able to count to ten any more. Oy. In a pinch, there is always “Urspo’s wicked words”.  Please give an enthusiastic shout out in the comment section, lest I lose digits.

Bibulous – excessively fond of drinking alcohol.

Blivit – something for which one cannot find a word; something difficult to name.

Dolce far niente – a pleasing inactivity.

Drotchel – a slovenly untidy woman.

Eructate – to produce a rawther loud belch or burp.

Ferrule – a short metal sleeve or ring at the base or handle of a pole for reinforcing the tool.  (really)

Imprecation – a curse; malediction

Kenning – a poetic phrase used in lieu of the usual name for a person or thing.  Example: “wave traveler” for “boat”.  or ‘snow puddings’ for ice cream. Jolly good fun!

Naufragous – something relating to or causing a shipwreck; something that creates a disaster.   A very good word to keep handy.

Penetralia – the innermost parts or recesses of a place or thing; the private of places.

Phub – to ignore a person via cellphone use.

Shinrin-yoku – ‘forest bathing’; a meditative and medicinal walk in nature.

Tapleyism – undying optimism even in dire circumstances.  These types need smacking.

 

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I haven’t recently written a post on fancy fustian words. This borders on negligence, for I am forever collecting grandiloquent and archaic words guaranteed to bore people to death at parties (of which I am not invited) or annoy phone solicitors. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections absolutely hates these entries, as they draw no traffic. Well screw’em. I love words!  Pleonasm is my middle name.

Here are a few of my recent finds, apropos for the holidays, winter months, and the pending political regime. Try using some in an email today.

Blivit – something for which one cannot find a word; something difficult to name.

Chicanery – the use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose.

Cumbly – benumbed with cold

Gambrinous – intoxicated by beer.

Gelid – f*cking cold, geezus could it get any worse.

Mardy – a sulky slightly aggressive moody teenager, usually female.

Mulligrubs – ill temper; colic; grumpiness.

Naufragous – something relating to or causing a shipwreck; something that creates a disaster.

Nescience – lack of knowledge or awareness.

Nudnik – a persistently dull, boring pest.

Potation – a drink or draft, especially of an alcoholic beverage.

Quisquillious – having the nature of rubbish (a splendid word indeed!)

Skiver – someone who skips or weasels out of a responsibility.

Viridity – greenness

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Wimbeling – (n.) an old Yorkshire dialect word to busy yourself somewhere when you really should be getting on with something else.

Thank you everybody for your support and comments in the recent posts. I hope I don’t often get overwhelmed with despair and pessimism where I go bezerk.  When I do I find it psychologically purging to vent and I hope no one thinks me too bad person for it.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections lost their corybantic Nordic minds over “My worst Post Ever” but before I was bludgeoned they saw the ‘ratings’ and pragmatically gave me a reprieve. I voiced compunction and they seemed satisfied I hadn’t gone off the deep-end. Walter “Cnut” Fafner thought I should compose something bucolic “to calm the nerves”. So I am going to post some more lovely words.*

What with the election words to describe deplorable types have been on my mind . Here are some fustian lovelies to expand your lexicon past moron, jerk, and a-hole.

Heading this list:  Snollygoster – an unprincipled man who will do anything to achieve office.

Fustilarian – someone who wastes time.

Minger – someone who is doing something ugly or disgusting/gross.

Pillock – a clumsy or forgetful idiot.

Ronyon – a mangy looking person

Slubberdeguillion – a dirty paltry sorry wretch of a fellow (quote/unquote).

Troglobite – an animal that lives in the dark part of caves; a light-less creature viz. a man who stays in darkness and ignorance.

Zonderkite– a person who creates mistakes and blunders due to his idiotic actions.

Try using them in an email today !

 

*Which may reverse their decision to bludgeon me.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections loathes my ‘word’ entries; I can’t quite ascertain their reason. I surmise they don’t understand the words to determine whether or not they are censorable. I have a terrible intuition TBDHSR are not interested in expanding their lexicon, which is limited to a handful of one syllable words and lots of body language.  Nevertheless I am willing to endure the waxing wroth of warrior editors for obscure words are jolly good fun.

Try using these lovelies in an email today.

quidnunc – a gossip or busybody.

“Oh that Doug, he’s quite the quidnunc, his nose is in everyone’s business – and then some”

gasconade – a boasting pompous style of speech or writing.

“Mr. Trump’s latest gasconade made Doug sick”

longanimity – a disposition to bear injuries patiently.

“Doug lamented how long to he must bear this longanimity called the pre-election.”

abulia  – an abnormal lack of ability to act or make decisions.

“The patient Doug reports having apathy, melancholia, and abulia. It’s Obama’s fault.”

crepuscular – of, relating to, or resembling twilight.

“After dinner Doug went out for crepuscular machinations in the dunes, hoping to remedy his abuilia.”

bloviate – (v)  to speak pompously

Mr. Trump bloviated on Fox News that Doug’s crepuscular actions is the main issue Americans are facing today.”

uhtceare – the angst experienced early in the morning when you wake with worrying.

“Doug woke at 4AM with uhtceare, wondering what Mr. Trump would bloviate about him today”

revenant – a person who returns; a person who returns as a spirit after death (a ghost)

“Doug the quidnunc learned last night in his crepuscular encounter that Mr. Trump is considering having the revenant Sarah Palin be his running mate.

Easter is supposed to be associated with spring but it is already 90 degrees and feeling like summer. This year Easter is a pretty lackluster event. We are both watching our waists so there is no chocolate or candy or ersatz marshmallow sponge-like objects bedecked in fluorescent colours.

On the other hand we have some new and special libations to make us hippity-hop. The Friend (visiting us for the weekend) recently traveled to South America, where he tried something called pisco. Tonight we are having pisco sours. I found a bottle of scotch I’ve long time fancied “Cu Bocan”. A snort of this beats chocolate rabbits by a country mile.

Someone got the taxes out to good Mr. Dunn who has been doing my taxes since 1989. Can you imagine?  Outside of family he is the longest relationship I have.

I’ve learned a few words I think lovely; I pass them onto you. Try using them sometime in an e-mail:

“Cellfish” – the act of using your iPhone during a meal or conversation with others.

“Fractious” – irritable and quarrelsome

“Doppelbanger” – having sex with someone like you in size/shape etc.

“Osculum” – a small mouthlike aperture that emits water such as a sponge. I recently heard it in context describing some fractious GOP-types remonstrating about Indiana etc.

“Kenopsia”– the eeriness of a place left behind. That bittersweet feeling being in an empty house just as you move away/close the door for the last time, or when visiting an old haunt like a schoolroom from your youth.

“Mountweazel” – a fake person, ghost word, or entry.

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I woke this morning around 3AM to a sound simultaneously soothing and unsettling. It took a second for my consciousness to catch up to my emotions. It was raining.  The positive feelings were mixed with the unsettled novelty of it, for it hasn’t rained in the night in many months.  The sensible part of the brain suggested I go back to sleep, but the emotional part wished to stay up to enjoy the sonorous solemnity.

It’s a pity I live in the desert, for rainy days provide me comfort and peace.  I think there is nothing more seraphic than the smell of petrichor and the drumming of raindrops on the rooftop.  Rainy days appeal to the introvert. They give one the permission to stay put and don’t go out. These are the days for hot cups of tea and good books, followed by the most blissful of events: a rainy day nap.  Even as I type this I feel a peaceful lull trying to lower my eyelids.

Rainy days needn’t be all indolence; there are always the ‘rainy projects’. These tasks are usually not strenuous, but mawkish or thoughtful, like organizing the photos files, or writing some letters, or tidying up a closet.

There is less noise on rainy days, so as not to interrupt the atmospheric concert of pitter-patter. TV and Youtube videos are verboten. If there is any music to be played it is something soft and pensive like Native American flutes.

The best rain is continuous and light, without much wind – perhaps just enough to stroke the wind chimes so they provides a low-grade ostinato to the rain chorus.  Meals on a rainy day are simple and hot, such as soup and a sandwich – grilled cheese preferably, for the warmth of rainy day food compliments the mild chill of the damp.

The reality is I am at my office, and my work-day begins soon. I will be indoors out of sight or sound of the weather, cut off from the rain.  Chances are the rain will stop and by day’s end the sky will be clear as crystal and we won’t have rain again until the summer.  But the memory of rain will have soaked into my heart if not my skin. Perhaps on a hot sunny day with too much work to do I can turn on the virtual rainy day that is now in my soul.

3/21/15 Update: I just learned of a lovely word:

chrysalism

n. the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm, listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.

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Lurking in the back of the refrigerator is the leftover suet, waiting for me to decide whether to use or toss it. It would be compunctious of me to do the latter; I spent a lot of time and energy to obtain the thing. I fancied making homemade bird treats but concluded this was impractical.  My search for other British recipes using suet took me to something called a Bedfordshire Clanger.  Internet searches (mine anyway) are rather desultory; after the clanger I arrived at another UK dish with the most amusing name:  rumbledethumps.  My eyes widened. My face was suddenly lit with joy like the radiance of a brilliant sunrise. Spo-fans know I am ravenous for exciting and atypical words, especially if they have élan. I may never make one of these odd-ball things, but ’rumbledethumps” definitely goes into my ghost-bag of fun and fustian words.

To amuse, here are some lovelies. These are best said out loud (rather than read) and with facial expressions worthy of Harpo Marx.

 

Rumbledethumps  – Scottish dish made of cheese, cabbage and potatoes.

Collywobbles – a feeling of nervousness, especially expressed in the stomach.

Snuffbumble – nonsense

Gallimaufry – a confused medley or hodgepodge

Hugger-mugger – a confusion

Hornswoggle – to swindle or hoodwink

Ragnorok – a destructive event that ruins everything.

Snert – pea soup;  I use it to describe a mystery dish made from leftovers.

Nerdle – This doesn’t seem to have any definition to it, but I learned it in grade school. To suddenly ejaculate the word ala Tourette’s Disorder never ceases to make me smile.

And finally

Spo – Nice, precise, and jolly good fun. It means something lovely, genuine (no rubbish) and well over four feet.  🙂

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