I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Humorous words to make us sit up and take notice

Delores E. Topliff

Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, and frequently humorous. (Winston Churchill loved them). Instead of predictable words we might tune out, they snap us awake and make us sit up to take notice.
There are plenty, and here are several fun examples:
Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
Or, If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong. 
Check out https://www.englishforums.com/content/humour/paraprosdokians.htm for more.
Comics and satirists make good use of these. Here are a few fun ones. The first two are probably familiar:
1.    I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
2.    Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
3.    I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
4.    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
If you know other great examples, please share them, and join our crusade to make spoken and written English, crisp, clear, sparkling, fresh, inspiring, and delicious, so that whether we’re reading, or having good conversations, our words taken in and given out are like breaking bread together to be nourished. Basically, at their best, excellent shared words are communion.

Please tell us your favorites. Beautiful words shared during cold seasons (or anytime) help our steady advance towards spring when bright flowers arrive to do their job.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Consider these larger-than-life word names in our language

Delores E. Topliff
We have words in our everyday vocabulary, with roots in history, that have grown larger than life.

Jezebel was the Phoenician wife of King Ahab who urged Israel to worship Baal. Her schemes killed Naboth, and she vowed to kill Elijah, but instead dogs licked her blood as Elijah prophesied. Today her name describes any impudent, shameless, morally unrestrained woman.

Robin Hood is the highly skilled archer and swordsman outlaw in English folk history, wearing Lincoln, who moved around Sherwood Forest with his merry band opposing the corrupt, robbing the rich, and giving to the poor. Today people displaying those values can be called Robin Hoods.

Webster's Dictionary defines Maverick as an unbranded range animal,
especially a motherless calf, or, an independent person, who refuses to follow society’s standards or customs. A lawyer named Maverick lived in south Texas in the mid-1800s. He acquired a farm and cattle, but didn’t brand his animals and let them roam free. Today the term describes unbranded cattle, but also people acting individually who refuse to be branded as members of any particular group. 

Shirley Temple was the most famous, popular child star of all time. Blue-eyed with blonde curls, she starred in movies from age three and soon reached super stardom by doing it all—acting, singing, and dancing! Fans loved her because she was cheerful, bright, bouncy, and innocent. Today her name describes people like her, and also names a non-alcoholic mixed drink made from ginger ale with a splash of grenadine, garnished with a maraschino cherry.

Paul Bunyan is a massive lumberjack in American folklore. His exploits are told in tales of superhuman labors, where he is often accompanied by his blue ox, Babe. His character originated in the stories of North American loggers, and was later captured by writer William Laughed in a 1916 promotional pamphlet for the Red River Lumber Company. Varying statues of him are found throughout North America.

John Henry is the African-American steel-driving folk hero who hammered a steel drill into rock so explosives could blast railroad construction tunnels. In the legend and popular song, his strength is measured in a race against a steam-powered hammer, which he won but died victorious, hammer in hand, with his heart over-stressed.

Pecos Bill rose from the imagination of southwestern cowboys during westward expansion and displays frontier courage, strength, and humor. Created by Edward O’Reilly, he is said to have come from range hands’ tales at the end of long days on the trail, and has much in common with other  “Big” characters like Paul Bunyan and John Henry. I’d personally like to think there’s a real Pecos Bill out there somewhere who does lasso tornadoes to ride them.

Which is your favorite? Or nominate another you believe brings (mostly positive) larger than life qualities to all of us today? 
(This post is also available on delorestopliff.com)

Monday, January 1, 2018

Hear ye, Hear ye, read all about it!

Delores E. Topliff

Welcome to 2018, a year of fresh opportunities to create history and make headlines. In fact, there’s no reason any of us might not make news in 2018 by introducing popular new products, best-selling books, useful inventions, medical breakthroughs–the sky’s the limit. The only bottom-line requirement is enough innovation to prove Solomon wrongthere are new things under the sun. 
Anyone can qualify. All it takes is seeing a problem and working on its solution. Some say genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspirationafter lightbulb ideas, elbow grease brings concepts to reality. 
Some discoveries are made by wondering about everyday events that happen to us. For example, many apples dropped on heads before one hit Isaac Newton and set him wondering why apples only fall down—not up, out, or sideways. He considered, tested, and established the irrefutable Laws of Motion.
Other breakthroughs come from wondering about everyday events. Consider Levi Budd, a six-year-old Canadian boy, who recently birthed a new word category by what he noticed riding in a car with his mom. At a stop sign, he realized the word “stop” spelled backwards becomes “pots.” He asked his mom what they call a word that becomes another when spelled backwards. She searched and found there was no term, so Levi invented one. The “levidrome” (pronounced “leh-vee-drome”) was born, a word becoming a new one if spelled backwards. When Canada’s Toronto-Star newspaper reported the story, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary paid attention, and say they say they will include his word in their next edition.
Now it’s your turn. If you could create any new word, or invention, story line, or innovation, what would it be and what would it accomplish?

We know that not everything that needs to be written or invented has been, so the world needs us all to get busy. Most of all, have a very Happy New Year, and have fun being creative.