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Archive for the ‘words’ Category

Holiday season is upon us. Ah yes, the family get togethers, the office parties, the presents. Lots of merriment, twinkling lights and auld lang syne. And of course, the festive meals.

Thanksgiving, holiday, turkey, sweet potatoes, jello, stuffing, plate, dinner

our Thanksgiving dinner

Lest it go unnoticed in the hubbub, however, may I point out that the 2012 “Word of the Year” has been announced?

The Oxford English Dictionary has named omnishambles, meaning a “situation which is shambolic from every possible angle,” the winner this year.

According to BBC News, the shortlist also included Eurogeddon, “the threatened financial collapse in the eurozone,” and mummy porn, a “genre inspired by the 50 Shades books.

I eat this stuff up like handfuls of popcorn at the movies.

And so, as is tradition in this blog (well, OK, this is the second year) I offer you the official holiday edition of:

Books is Wonderful 2012 Words of the Year

BindersFullofWomen’sRecipes: a collection of yellowed scraps of paper including Aunt Rose’s foolproof mashed potatoes

CrispChristie: the New Jersey governor tartly deflecting a Twinkie defense

Fatulence: embarrassing stomach sounds as one’s pants get tighter

HomecookedLand: Carrie takes a day off to uncover the secrets of her kitchen

MiddleYeastConflict: a tense situation sparked by differing opinions on how to bake bread

NobelPeacePie: making the same dessert year after year to avoid arguments

SevenNaturalWonderBread: a miracle that this miasma of chemicals was considered food

Stuffington Post: endless topics of conversation due to the inability to leave the table

The Food Hangover: Misadventures of three zany guys who OD’ed on the desserts

WarrenBuffet: a wealth of culinary riches on the holiday table

related: SageLeavesofOmaha

Wolf Blintz-er: CNN reporting live from the delicatessen

WontonAbbey: Lady Mary ordering takeout on Cook’s night off

… and when planning your holiday parties, don’t forget to invite these celebrities: Paris Stilton, Susan SaranWrap, Beans Affleck, Robert Poulet, CranJerry Seinfeld, Salad Field, Potatum O’Neal, Cake Gyllenhaal, BrusselSproutCrowe, and Carrots Fisher!

You can read Books is Wonderful’s 2011 Words here.

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Gobble Gobble

Word geeks like me get a kick out of the Oxford English Dictionary’s (OED) additions and deletions to our lexicon. This morning on my Twitter feed I found the shortlist for 2011’s word of the year, along with OED definitions (thanks @mashable), and among them are:

  • Bunga bunga: Used in reference to parties hosted by the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, at which various illicit sexual activities were alleged to have taken place.
  • Clicktivism: The use of social media and other online methods to promote a cause.
  • Crowdfunding: The practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.
  • Gamification: The application of concepts and techniques from games to other areas of activity, for instance as an online marketing technique.
  • Tiger mother: A demanding mother who pushes her children to high achievement using methods regarded as typical of Asian childrearing.

FYI, retweet and sexting were added to the dictionary in August, and earlier this year, the terms LOL, <3 and OMG.

So this got me to thinking, as this Thanksgiving holiday weekend comes to a close, what items might the OED have missed? Here are some of my ideas.

  • Bloatulism: That feeling just beyond exquisitely full that borders on nausea
    related: CranBeriBeri
  • L-tryptophantasy: imagining that the dishes will be washed and put away when you wake up the next morning
  • OccuPyCrustNow: Sitting around the kitchen table picking at the last crumbs of the apple pie
  • BlackFridaySaturdaySunday: When only black clothes, preferably with lots of elastic, will suffice
  • NordStromboli: Craving Italian food after a tough day at the mall
  • WeAreThe99% Fat-Free: Swearing off carbs for the rest of one’s life. Or until the December holidays.
  • WeightWeightDon’tTellMe: Stepping on the scale while covering one’s eyes
  • Maaloxandbagels: our Sunday brunch menu
  • FingerClickinGood: no more leftovers; ordering Chinese takeout online

What say you, OED?

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I'm Going to BlogHer Writers '11!

BlogHer Writers was a one-day conference for … well, writers who blog. Two hundred of us gathered for a day of education and sharing, and if the enthusiastic conversations on Twitter are any indication, the other 199 enjoyed it as much as I did. All the elements of an awesome conference — knowledgeable and articulate presenters, well-designed sessions and workshops, and relevant topics yielding many takeaways — were in place. Best of all, this was a community of smart and savvy women (and a few good men) who also happened to be NICE PEOPLE. What a pleasure it was to spend the day with them.

I’m a writer because I love to write. Always have. Yet my unfinished novel sits waiting for me to complete it. What’s my problem?  Oh, I have a million excuses, like working full-time and being too tired at night and not having the time, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and time marches on. How much longer can I procrastinate? The time has come to stop kvetching and start producing.

I started this blog, booksiswonderful, to flex my creative writing muscles which were mightily in need of the exercise. A writer needs to write (a recurrent theme at the conference). Most successful writers will tell you that they produce something every day. It doesn’t have to be perfection. It just needs to get typed on that Word document. That is what I need to do.

The well-spoken presenters at BlogHer Writers talked frankly about the publishing process, the challenges to the industry (increased costs, disappearance of Border’s and Oprah’s Book Club, growth of self-publishing, among others) and the even more intense competition for writers. But the good news is that new talent is still being sought, and literary agents often read blogs to discover that talent.

What else did I learn? Here’s a smattering:

Using the f-bomb in blogs is OK.

Getting rejected by a gazillion agents is normal and does not mean your book is worthless. Nor does it mean that you are without talent.

It is important to get rid of toxic people in your life.

Editors and book cover designers usually, but not always, get it right.

Scrivener is worth looking into.

Publishers really do look out for your best interests.

A blog is not a book. But good writing transcends all.

I hoped this conference would teach me HOW. How to get started, how to shake off the self-doubt. How to just do it.

I came away feeling inspired. I think I can, I think I can.

I know I can.

BlogHer Writers, I will see you next year. With book proposal in hand.

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Without Borders

This was a tough week. I unhappily bid farewell to a friend who was always entertaining, full of light and had an uncanny knack of drawing me in. Naively, perhaps, I thought our relationship would last forever. So I am still in denial that things are over.

RIP, Borders.

My sadness is tinged with a bit of indignation. What does this say about our culture that a well-respected, successful, forward-thinking corporation that sells BOOKS has sputtered and run out of steam? Was this a long time coming, or did I ignore the signs of malaise? Was the writing on the wall, as it were, when mom and pop bookshops collapsed one by one like stricken toy soldiers?  We mourned the end of that era but understood the economics. Rising coats, competition, we got it.

But not big, strong, iconic Borders??

With the announcement of the closure came a collective moan could be heard across the land. Well, in my office, anyway. Author Jennifer Weiner tweeted, “Very first reading for my very first book was at Borders on Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Sad to see them go.”

Does Borders’ demise sound the death knell for the few bookstores that remain? For the record, let me disclose that yes, I do order books online. Amazon is easy and efficient, and the free shipping is enticing. But it is simply not the same experience.

Will the next generation of readers, the multi-tasking, attention-challenged, sensation-hungry demographic that it is, ever while away a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon at the neighborhood bookstore? Will our grandchildren yawn when we describe the art of browsing bookshelves with heads tilted 45 degrees, contentedly shuffling sideways as we perused new titles and old favorites? Will they roll their eyes when we wax rhapsodic about the joy of selecting a book and rifling through its pages?

You can’t take your kids to Amazon and let them roam free in the children’s section while you nose around the cookbook stacks and your husband gets absorbed listening to tracks of new releases in the music section. Same goes for story hour, author appearances and girl scouts cookie sales by the front door.

Borders was my go to store more than any other. I caught up friends over a cup of coffee. As an alumni admissions interviewer for my alma mater, I sat with prospective students in the comfy armchairs. If I needed to buy gifts, Borders afforded one stop shopping, with free gift wrap, no less. Best of all, though, was the idle time spent looking and savoring, and often discovering literary gems just by happenstance.

I can accept that popular reading devices, like the Kindle, are rapidly usurping the hard copy book. I can acknowledge that newspapers and magazines are shrinking, if not disappearing, and books are being eschewed as pre-millennial. Even our libraries are reducing their inventory in favor of the electronic variety. But not having Borders … well, that borders on crazy.

And  now let me get back to my book.

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It’s my guilty pleasure and OK, I admit it, my obsession. This little word game, so simple and yet challenging, so eager for me to log on via my iphone or ipad, beckons beguilingly with its shiny yellow icon: Play with me. Yes, you have time for a quick game. Just one. I promise.

I was destined to love this game. A linguistics major in college and lifelong crossword puzzle enthusiast, I find pure delight in a five syllable word. I heart alliteration. Onomatopoeia? I’m the geek who knows what that means. Now I no longer have to wait for the Sunday Times puzzle to give my vocabulary a workout. With my mobile device at the ready, I can blissfully play Words with Friends anytime I want.

My opponents are mostly nameless, faceless entities with names like Miss_Sixty, Crzy432 and Phatman. I am mildly curious about who they are, where they are from, are they anything like me? There is rarely conversation, aside from an intermittent “Good one!” or “Is that really a word?” With the occasional brilliant move on my part, I sense frustration, or even skepticism, seething through cyberspace. Is my opponent regretting this game? Does WhiskyGurl223 think I am, gasp, cheating?

I have been known to whisper “Aha!” with the magic combination of  letters that allows words like squint and ziti.  I sometimes resort to the usual crossword puzzle gems, like qi, etui and tav. It is often these smaller words that garner the most points if strategically placed on a triple letter square. Forget showing off with a flashy long word that opens up a counter attack. I learned that strategy early on.

So if you dare, hit me up on Words with Friends at hbludman. One caveat (warning): although I may appear ursine (bearlike) and prolix (verbose) or resemble a diva (prima donna), that is merely a facade (illusion). In truth, I am  a mensch (good person).

Let the games begin.

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We didn’t have air conditioning in our split level house in Pennside, but it was too oppressive to be outside. I wandered around from room to room, fanning myself and eliciting a sigh now and then just to be dramatic. Mom was in the kitchen cooking and wouldn’t pay attention to me. I searched out the coolest room in the house — the laundry room — and lay down on the cool linoleum floor. I pondered the  meaning of life as droplets of perspiration trickled down my neck. Suddenly, inspiration hit. I found a piece of paper and a green crayon and got to work.

Books is wonderful

“Mom!” I yelled. “How do you spell ‘books’?”

“B-O-O-K-S” she called down to me as the hum of the Kitchen-aid mixer muffled her words.

“How do you spell ‘is’?”

She spelled it out for me.

“And how do you spell ‘wonderful’?”

“W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L”

Done with my work, I bounded up the steps to share it with her. In her proud mom way, she praised me and told me how much she loved it. I like to think that she couldn’t wait to show Dad my masterpiece. And she really must have loved it: she sent it to a company that laminated it on this wooden box, which sits in my home today.

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