Today’s verbing

December 9, 2022

From WIRED magazine’s Plaintext web column by Steven Levy today (with the notable verbing bold-faced):

This week the social media world took a pause from lookie-looing the operatic content-moderation train wreck that Elon Musk is conducting at Twitter, as the Oversight Board [of Meta] finally delivered its Cross Check report, delayed because of foot-dragging by Meta in providing information.

The verb lookie-loo (more commonly looky-loo), in this example roughly ‘stop to look at something out of curiosity’ (it can also mean roughly ‘view something for sale without intending to buy’), occurs here in its PRP (-ing) form lookie-looing, used in a nominal gerund phrase (which is the object of the preposition from). Finally, the verb lookie-loo here is transitive (with the NP the operatic content-moderation train wreck that Elon Musk is conducting at Twitter as its direct object); most occurrences of this verbing seem to be intransitive — examples to come below — though transitive uses are also attested.

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That highfalutin sonofagun from Arizona

December 8, 2022

That would be “Ragtime Cowboy Joe”, in the western novelty tune from 1912 — with many variations in the wording in different performances, but all using the adjective highfalutin (in some spelling), which is why I bring it up here, as a follow-up to my 12/6 posting “highfalutin”, on that bit of characteristically American jocular slang.

My attention was drawn to highfalutin, scooting, shooting / rootin’ tootin’ RCJ by Benita Bendon Campbell, whose father danced with her to (a version of) the song when she was a small child, and who has his version firmly in her memory even now, over 75 years later. She offered to sing it for me, but now I have unearthed quite a range of recorded versions, from which I’ve selected one to subject you to.

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Stick with me, baby!

December 8, 2022

A brief bulletin from the medical-care wing of my daily life, letting you in on some of the events unfolding there, outside of your notice (because you really don’t want to hear about me whining about them).

Today’s unpleasant symptom is weeping sores (described by some as open wounds), on my lower legs and feet. Try not to be concerned about the causative factors, which are complex, and focus on the care, which for the moment I’m handling on my own, through what amounts to elaborate first aid: drying the sites, applying Bacitracin antibiotic ointment to them, and covering them with adhesive surgical dressings, held firmly in place by self-adhering stretch wrap, a truly wonderful medical invention — originally developed for the 3M corporation and sold under the trade name Coban (for cohesive bandage), with a variety of competitors made by other firms (Andover’s CoFlex, MEDca’s self-adherent cohesive wrap bandages).

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Coalinga Zwicky goes to war

December 7, 2022

Just a tease — it’s been another awful day, with very little time in it for blogging — for a Zwicky family posting on Pearl Harbor Day (side note: best wishes to my cousin Lynda Zwicky Hood, born 12/7/41!). Arriving in my mailbox by happy coincidence this morning: in the mildly lubricious Our Armed Forces at Play genre, Army Air Force Lt. John K. Zwicky (hereafter JKZ) of Coalinga CA, sunbathing with two buddies in the Aleutian Islands in 1944:

This is a remarkable snapshot from the National Archives (in College Park MD), made in some haste by researcher Aubrey Morrison, who’s been tracking down JKZ (the photo reproduced here with his permission). I can report that after the war, JKZ went right back to Coalinga and stayed there, with his wife and three kids (a girl and two boys), working in the local oilfields and living a very long life (into his 100s).

But Coalinga rang a little bell in my head, well, because of the oddness of the name but also, I eventually realized, because it was where photographer Jill Ann Zwicky, the subject of my 7/29/22 posting “The life she lived”, grew up: a place in the middle of the Central Valley, in between US Route 101 and I-5, out in the middle of nowhere (to my mind), but a place she remembered with tremendous affection.

Yes, Jill was JKZ’s daughter.

Well, then I have a lot to say about JKZ and Coalinga and the Swiss diaspora in the US, and Aubrey is still unearthing more stuff.

This posting is just today’s proof that I am Not Dead Yet. Stay tuned.




December 6, 2022

Today’s Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting, some diversion from the difficulties of daily life. I take my cue from Ann Burlingham, posting on Facebook on 12/4:

Last night I was watching Nick Cave being interviewed on the BBC when he used the word highfalutin. I looked it up to confirm my sense that that is a word Americans came up with, and it is, and it’s wonderful.

Now, you need to know, first of all, who this Nick Cave is and why it might be notable that he used the slang adjective highfalutin ‘pompous, pretentious’. Then on to the word and who uses it, with two wonderful bonuses, one supplied by OED3, the other by a winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

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Tailored advertising

December 5, 2022

This is very much a Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting — it’s been a truly terrible day, but I’m still kicking (though I have no speaking voice and have already slept 13 unhappy hours since going to bed last night).

Random discussion on FB about the odd ‘sponsored’ ads that appear there, one contributor baffled by a flood of products (things she had no interest in) with jokey names. Well, of course, everybody else got different sponsored ads, most of them relatable to items they’d been searching or had actually ordered, but some of them mysterious. The selection of ads is done by algorithm, in ways that simple mortals cannot divine.

And then, as if on cue, I got an ad for this pullover hoodie:

(#1) IT’S A N THING – YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND: available in various patterns, where N is a proper name: either a personal name or a family name, chosen from a large stock of available names — a stock that includes the personal name ARNOLD (see below), but apparently not the rare family name ZWICKY, so that in Google-search fashion, if it can’t find the POUTINE you asked for, it offers you instead something whose name is close in spelling to POUTINE: photographs of people POUTING, or, in this case, the family name WICK

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In the mail: an 8-noun pile-up

December 4, 2022

Remarkable e-mail. Two days ago (12/2), a message on Sutter Health’s My Health Online site with the header:

Sutter Palo Alto Center Laboratory Patient Experience Questionnaire

This is an 8-noun pile-up — not by any means a record, but definitely notable, and absolutely baffling as an announcement of a request for feedback from patients using Sutter Health’s services, in particular the services of the laboratory at Sutter Health’s PAMF Palo Alto Center (which I use with regrettable frequency).

I am now going to complain, briefly but with great feeling, about a range of things, starting with Sutter’s extraordinarily user-unfriendly, intensely corporate-oriented on-line interface. That 8-noun pile-up is fine for corporate-internal use in labeling its files, but it’s no way to get people to do a favor for you, which is what filling out  an opinion survey for them is.

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s posting “In the mail: the sleep of reason produces snowmen”, on e-mail announcing the holiday issue of the New York Review of Books. Just notes on stuff that turns up in my e-mail.

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In the mail: The sleep of reason produces snowmen

December 3, 2022

In today’s e-mail, announcing the holiday issue of the New York Review of Books:

(#1) The text is all about Marcel Dzama’s cover art,The sleep of reason produces snowmen — an explicit homage to Goya, with a touch of Krampusnacht (12/5); not your daddy’s jolly Xmas snowman

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The buildings are barking

December 2, 2022

In the 12/1 Zippy strip, a moment of somniloquy that would be an excellent donnée for a poem:

(#1) Another loving memorial by cartoonist Bill Griffith of his late wife, cartoonist Diane Noomin, adding to what he wrote in an 11/20 strip (reproduced in my 11/20 posting “A touching memorial”)

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In the realm of the footstools

December 1, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 the rabbits of December take us to the hidden spot in the tropical jungle where ottomans rule among the palm trees, as depicted in this John McPherson Close to Home cartoon of 2/14/15:

(#1) A pun on Ottoman Empire, the Turkish realm, and ottoman, a kind of footstool

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