Journal Entries

Vocabulary Quiz, Southern US Version

As Baron Grim pointed out about Icy North's quiz, some people around here speak, er, English. As in, that language they speak in England. Some of us, however, do not. We speak Southern U.S., which is a different language that is only occasionally spelled the same. it pretends to be English, but basically, it is not.

Here's a quiz for you. Define these terms as they are used in the Southern U.S. and its sister area, the Lone Star State of Texas.

1. poke (noun)
2. tea (noun)
3. country ham (noun)
4. pounding the preacher (an act, and wash your minds out)
5. fleshy (adjective)
6. high cotton (state of being)
7. hissy fit (heck, hard to parse. Just use it in a sentence.)
8. ornery (adjective)
9. used to could (verb construction)
10. pick ups (noun, at least in North Carolina)

Now, if you can explain all of these, you're either a bona fide Southerner, or a dialectical genius.

Go for it, folks.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [22]

Latest reply: 2 Days Ago

Radio Coverage of the Battle of Gettysburg: A Neglected Historical Treasure

Do you want to listen to seom really fun reenactors?

Apparently, those CBS news reporters who covered World War Ii got bored during peacetime. They seem to have been thinking, 'Gee, how I miss the excitement of being embedded on the frontlines, and those K-rations sure tasted good...'

Well, whatever. Be that as it may, in 1947, CBS radio was entertaining the life out of everybody with the series 'You Are There' - a re-enactment of history, as if CBS had been there. Talking up, interviewing the Historical Persosn on the Street, yelling 'Over to you, John Daly,' and ducking cannon fire at...

Seminary Ridge? Say what?

'The Confederate infantry has just come out of the woods...'

So, if you're up for it, try out "You Are There: Gettysburg':

This webstie - Authentic History Center - is manned by a Michigan History teacher with the right idea: get teachers lots of realia and authentic information. I'm grateful.

Okay, the authenticity of the radio guys is open to question. But it will make you laugh, trust me. The 73-year-old private with a grudge against the Rebs is priceless - as is the crowing guy from Miss'ssippi who offers to protect the correspondent.

The sound effects are pretty cool, too. Hear those cannons roar, admire the Rebel yells...

Enjoy. And be glad you aren't really there.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [1]

Latest reply: 6 Days Ago

Freebie Listening Tip: Some Mark Twain

Someone just kindly sent me a new LibriVox recording available online. These are lovely ways to pass the time - you can hear public domain books and stories. smiley - smiley

I recommend this one to our writers, because Twain has some good advice on how to write humour. Also, the narrator is really gifted here. Her delivery adds a lot to Twain's essay.

It won't take you long - it's about 17 minutes - so here's the link:


smiley - dragon

PS And if you find any other good voice recordings, list your favourites here.

Discuss this Journal entry [14]

Latest reply: 2 Weeks Ago

Why You Should Know About '12 Years a Slave'

First off, you can read our Awix's review of '12 Years a Slave' at A87821625. While I agree with our h2g2 film critic – the subject matter is depressing – I don't agree that it's a reason not to watch this excellent film. We just did – the cable company owed us a free movie – and frankly, I'm amazed at its quality.

I'd been afraid Solomon Northup's true story would fall victim to dramatic exploitation. Instead, they've done a beautiful job of putting you there, and letting the story tell itself. In its own words, too. The actors talk like people in the 1840s, not the 21st Century. And the story line is true to the book. I'll tell you a bit about the book in a minute.

First, a quibble: I found one glaring inaccuracy in that film. It occurs early on. A small girl is jumping up and down on a hotel bed. In 1841. Please. The bed spring was invented in 1883. I kept waiting for the rope to break. Also, there is precious little bounce in a feather bed. Trust me on this, I have experimentally determined this fact.

That aside, the film was made on a real Louisiana plantation. Mr Benedict Cumberbatch's Southern Midlands accent is spot-on. Praise to him for NOT attempting Gulf Southern. I was born with the plague of Gulf Southern, but got better. No European should attempt the jaw-breaking feat.

The main actors are just mind-blowingly superb. Verdict? A must-see film.

Okay, you say, but why watch it? That historical crime was so long ago. It does not affect us. I beg to differ. The economic crime of slavery destroyed the lives of millions. It destroyed the souls of the perpetrators. Like the Holocaust, it is a shameful part of our shared human history that we need to understand, if we are truly to say, 'Never again' – and mean it.

Now, if you want to see the film, get thee to the cinema, or DVD store, or your cable company's 'on demand' list.

If you want to read Solomon Northup's book, it won't cost you a red cent. Go here:

You want to turn the virtual pages? Use

Would you like more eyewitness testimony to slavery? Try the WPA slave narratives from the 1930s:

Click through those pages of interviews lovingly compiled by underemployed writers during the Great Depression. Their boss, pioneer folklorist John Lomax, told them not to censor or edit. The past speaks to us here. There are photos, too.

One of my favourites is Sarah Gudger, 121 at the time of interview. (And yes, they checked.) Ms Gudger remembered a meteor shower from 1833. What a story.

So watch, read, or browse online, but check out the story. Mr Northup bravely shared a harrowing experience with us all. We owe it to him to let him speak to us across the centuries. What an amazing man.

smiley - dragon

PS Oh, and if you want more information on Benedict Cumberbatch's slaveholding ancestors, look here:

Discuss this Journal entry [13]

Latest reply: 3 Weeks Ago

In Praise of the Edited Guide

How much like the 'Hitchhiker's Guide' IS the Edited Guide, anyway?

I quote from DNA:

'In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words "DON'T PANIC" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.'

Well, we still like that 'Don't Panic' motto, and use it whenever possible. And we are definitely cheaper than, say, the Encyclopedia Britannica, because we don't charge anything for reading any of our content.

We DO contain much that is wildly apocryphal - we like to talk about such things as UFO sightings, and famous hoaxes, and tinfoil hat theories - but, in contrast to the lax editorial policies of Mr Zarniwoop, we try to be as accurace as possible about what we're discussing.

After all, we don't want to mislead the public.

This makes us a bit unusual - at least historically.

I've been checking, and newspapers, for example, didn't alway have such high standards. Back in the 19th century, it was not unknown for newspapers to publish the most ourageous hoax stories, even when it wasn't 1 April. They often refused to retract them, too. Remember the Great Moon Hoax,? Or the 1899 story about the Americans threatening to tear down the Great Wall of China? And those were only the harmless ones. The Hearst papers egged on the Spanish-American War with their yellow journalism.

Oh, and have you ever heard of the Aurora, Texas, UFO? That was probably started by a bored newspaper reporter. We don't do that in the EG. Nossir. Okay, except on April Fools' Day. Then we take it right off there.

As Douglas Adams wrote, though, we DO demand carefully demarcated areas of doubt and uncertainty. To wit, we'll discuss anything, if we can get at some facts and tell the story in a thoughtful way. And that's a good thing.

No wkiality forus, folks. We do our homework. And if we aren't all-encompassing - after all, this is NOT an enecyclopedia, it's a guidebook - we're at least circumspect in our approach. Our questions are:

1. Did this really happen?
2. Is it interesting?
3> Can we learn something from it?

People should read our Guide Entries and say, 'Wow, I didn't know that. But now, I'm much better informed - and I've been mightily entertained in the process.'

So, kudos to the writers, Scouts, subeditors, editors, and readers of the Edited Guide. Long may its wisdom grace the internet.

smiley - dragon

PS And no, that doesn't mean you have to go and read my PR entry on the Holy Foreskin. You can wait for the illustrated version, if you like. I've learned to expect great things from our beloved Artists.

Discuss this Journal entry [22]

Latest reply: 3 Weeks Ago

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Dmitri Gheorgheni

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