Thursday, February 14, 2008

Winter Salmagundi

Back after "Presidents Day," technically known as "Washington's Birthday, Observed."

Till then, see the presidents in song.

I like that word, salmagundi. Don't have the opportunity to use it nearly often enough. According to various sources I consulted, it appears to be from French, as many food-originated words are, or maybe Italian. Not, as it sounds like, a relic in English of the British Raj, like pundit or pajamas. Sounds like the President of India, really. His Excellency, Rashtrapati T.K. Salmagundi.

Actually, these days it's Her Excellency.

Here's another usage I like: bum for butt. Lilly asked about it the other day. I don't remember how she phrased the question exactly, but essentially she wanted to know if the British had another word for butt that sounded something like it. Something she heard on television, certainly, since that's how Americans typically hear about the usage. Good to know that she's (1) paying attention to a nuance like that, and (2) seeking clarification from a trustworthy source. Me, that is.

Right now it would be a silly affectation for an American to say, "I slipped on the ice and fell on me bum." But I'd like to see it imported, and these things do change. All it might take is for some otherwise worthless hip-hop star to use the word that way for the importation to begin.

Actually, on Wednesday, I did slip and fall on my bum. I got off easier than the US Secretary of Defense, who broke a bone last week after an encounter with a Washington DC ice patch. All that happened to me was a sore bum. It was the result recent weather patterns: snow, meltage, a re-freezing, then snow on top of the ice. It's a wicked combination. It brought me down in a parking lot. Luckily no other cars were around to run me over, or witness my spill. It seems to happen to me only once a winter, which is fine for now, but not if I stay in northern Illinois another 30 years.

Here's a sentence I wrote professionally this week: "According to Inland American Lodging, the properties are in markets with strong barriers to entry and which are less sensitive to the slings and arrows of economic misfortune, including Boston, Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, DC." You just never know when that college education is going to pop up. Except that I'm pretty sure I heard "To be or not to be" in high school, and in fact I remember the Fonz discussing the meaning of the soliloquy in an episode of Happy Days.

Speaking of the Fonz, it seems that he's to be a bronze in Milwaukee. Only the humorless would be against such public art. More by serendipity than design, I've managed to see the statues of Ralph Kramden (New York), Mary Richards (Minneapolis) and Bob Hartley (Chicago) in recent years. I'd be more than willing to look up Arthur Fonzarelli when in Milwaukee.

One more ingredient to the salmagundi, also along video lines: this clip. Somehow, rendering this show in German doesn't make the ersatz German characters any less ersatz, especially considering the poor dubbing.

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