Recently I heard a fellow say that the word blackball (meaning to keep someone out of something, without the person knowing exactly who was doing it or why) comes from Hollywood in the 20s, and I thought That’s just wrong. I believed that the use of the word was much older, coming from ‘Gentlemen’s clubs’ […]

Dog crosses

Philpotts (the cooperative’s dog) is a cross between an Afghan and an English sheepdog; first he chases the sheep, then he knits them into sweaters. (From Joanna Russ’s novel On Strike Against God.) I welcome suggestions for what other hybrid dog breeds might do, along similar lines.


I just skimmed a 32-page booklet called Cryptogram Solving, by M. E. Ohaver, published in 1933. It demonstrated to me that there is more to solving the kinds of cryptograms that used to run in newspapers than just applying the frequency table; but it also demonstrated to me that I don’t really want to learn […]

More puns

Back in 2013, I posted a collection of puns that my uncle Dobe had sent me. Several of them had a format I particularly like: a brief situation setup, followed by a common phrase that, in this context, is a pun. My favorite example (listed on that page): “I wondered why the baseball was getting […]


According to an article by Fern Riddell, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley once wrote to a friend: I was so ready to give myself away—and being afraid of men, I was apt to get tousy-mousy for women. Apparently (according to that same article), tuzzy-muzzy is “slang for the vagina,” dating back to 1642. Only one of my […]


From Howard Waldrop’s afterword to his story “The Effects of Alienation”: [Peter Lorre] arrived in England knowing three words of English: Milk, Hamburger, Yes. He got his first job with Hitchcock because someone told him Hitch liked to tell long boring shaggy-dog stories. Lorre went up, shook his hand, watched Hitchcock's lips move for five […]


Just happened across this recombinant idiom, apparently written by Roland Bruno on Board Game Geek: Opinions are like wishes. You can lead them to water but you can’t teach them new tricks. (See also a previous post in which I learned that phrases like these are also known as dundrearyisms.)

Some font identification tools

I’ve linked in the past to Indentifont, which asks you a series of questions about a font to help identify it. But I only just found out that there are several services that can identify a font based on an image of characters from the font. In particular: WhatTheFont, from MyFonts. Finds matches among their […]