Trek house rules

For a long time, I’ve been intermittently collecting fortune-cookie fortunes that I find entertaining with phrases like in bed or between the sheets added. The other day, Kam came up with a new-to-us variation: adding between the sheets after lines of dialogue in Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. I didn’t write down any examples […]

arsy-tansy, revisited

Back in 2012, I wrote an entry about encountering the word arsy-tansy in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and discovering that that term didn’t exist anywhere else. Just now, I came across the word arsy-versy in an Anthony Boucher story, “The Chronokinesis of Jonathan Hull.” (“The disturbingly arsy-versy normal world…”) It turns […]


Standover tactics require a standover man. Or a standover woman, of course. A standover person of any kind. Or perhaps a standover kangaroo would do, I'm not sure about all of these antipodean nuances.


In the English version of the song “Madeleine,” as performed in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, there’s a couplet that I always thought went like this: Madeleine’s my Tisiphe; She’s America to me. I’ve been listening to the song, now and then, since the mid-’80s. I had a vague recollection […]

Paging Dr. Euphemism

I am currently entertaining myself while keeping my mother company in the hospital by reading up on the different emergency codes that come over the loudspeaker, which are intentionally cryptic so as to protect patient privacy and stave off mass panic.  The color codes are not standard, aside from Code Red generally meaning “fire”; there […]


My dictionary says that shagreen is a kind of untanned leather (by which it presumably means rawhide), or “the rough skin of various sharks and rays.” Wikipedia says that shagreen is a kind of rawhide, from a horse or a shark or a ray. (I’m paraphrasing.) Both indicate that the word derives from the French […]

Stressing THE wrong word

I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek lately, and I’ve noticed something that happens a lot: A character is supposed to refer to some science or tech thing, but they put primary stress on the wrong word of the phrase. For example, they might refer to the Omicron Theta star system, but they emphasis […]


I learned some years ago that the kiwifruit was formerly known as the Chinese gooseberry; I had read that sales in the US went way up when importers started using the new name. More recently, I was in the supermarket and I happened across a fruit labeled as goldenberries. I had seen them for the […]