Wednesday, January 10, 2007


G whiz

It's clear, cold, and bone dry here today. I miss snow. We've had none this winter, except a dusting, twice, and it's both disconcerting and sad. I miss snow days from school. I want to go sledding. I remember sledding as a kid - one of the most perfect activities ever invented. My sisters and friends and I would sled down a big hill up the road from our house, for hours. The hill was, in summer, a long clear blueberry barren overlooking the Pleasant River and some woods far off at the bottom. Sled down feet-first, climb back up, sled down head-first, climb back up. Use the plastic sled, use the toboggan. Repeat. All day, sometimes on an blissfully unexpected day home from hateful grammar school because of the snow itself. Wearing snow pants, coats, boots, mittens, and roasting hot because of all the long trips back up the hill. Coming home at dark to put our boots under the woodstove and eat supper, exhausted and happy. A long time ago, now.

Today, from The Reader's Encyclopedia:

galloglass or gallowglass. A cateran (A what?) or kern (A who?), that is, an armed Irish foot-soldier (Oh...). (p.417)

Gasconade. Talk like that of a Gascon - absurd boasting, vainglorious braggadocio. The Dictionary of the French Academy gives us the following specimen: "A Gascon, in proof of his ancient nobility, asserted that they used in his father's house no other fuel than the bâtons of the family marshals." (p.423)

Geber or Jabir (Arab., Jābir ibn-Hayyān) (fl. 721-776). An Arabian alchemist, born at Thous, in Persia. He wrote several treatises on the "art of making gold," in the usual mystical jargon of the period; hence, by imitation of his name, our word gibberish (senseless jargon).
The art of the Arabian Geber taught...
The Elixir of Perpetual Youth
Longfellow, The Golden Legend (p.426)

Glass Houses: Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Those who are open to criticism should be very careful how they criticize others. This is an old proverb found in varying forms from the time of Chaucer at least. Cf. Troilus and Criseyde, Bk. ii; also Matt. vii. 1-4. (p.437)

Goody Two-shoes. This nursery tale first appeared in 1765. It was written for Newbery, as it is said, by Oliver Goldsmith. Goody Two-shoes is a very poor child, whose delight at having a pair of shoes is so unbounded that she cannot forbear telling everyone she meets that she has "two shoes"; whence her name. She acquires knowledge and becomes wealthy. The title-page states that the tale is for the benefit of those -
Who from a state of rags and care,
And having shoes but half a pair,
Their fortune and their fame should fix,
And gallop in a coach and six. (p.446)

gorblimey. From God blind me. A British vulgarism expressing surprise. (p.447)

gruel, to give him his. To give him severe punishment; properly, to kill him. The allusion is to the practice in 16th-century France of giving poisoned possets - an art brought to perfection by Catherine de Medici and her Italian advisors. (p.463)

guillotine. A machine for beheading persons, much used in the French Revolution. Joseph Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814), a French physician, first proposed its use in 1789, recommending it reputedly because of the "voluptuously pleasant sensation" produced by the contact of its blade with the neck. (p.466) (Good lord... not what I would call voluptuously pleasant, myself...)

Runners-up today, most worthy of tracking down: garden, giants, gods, Goncourt (always wanted to read the brothers' Journals), and grail. This section also seems unusually bookish, with great entries on Frederic Goudy, Robert Granjon, Grub Street, Grolier (both man and Club), and the like. But I felt more bloodthirsty this morning, hence gruel and guillotine instead. Re snow: I guess if I had a snow day now, I'd keep the shop closed, and stay home and read. Though there are a few good sledding hills nearby...

I miss the snow,too. It's pretty cold where I am but we need some snow to make it truly winter.

I love the whole Benet's RE entries thing you are doing;I have a Benet's and a Merriam-Webster RE as the foundation of my reference section. The two of them are great keys for self education,IMO.
lady t: when you pull either one of them out to use, does your entire reference section tumble over?

I second all your sentiments.
Hmmm, I'd like to find a copy of the M-W RE, I don't know if I've ever seen a used copy, but then again I don't think I've looked for one.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. It has crossed my mind that reading reference books in January might not be the most rivetingly interesting occupation I could regale blog-readers with.

These books are certainly of a thickness and weight that they could be used for a literal foundation, not just a metaphorical one...
RE, meaning 'revised edition' I suppose. What I have is the 'mother' of them all, the unabridged. The NTC if you like initialisms (2nd ed).

I would trade it for the volumes of DARE that I am missing. (Ha, did I trap you with that one? Dictionary of American Regional English (Belknap / Harvard).)

There is just too much to discuss for one comment. Let's keep it running alongside Benét commentary by Sarah. It's a challenge.

NTC = New Twentieth Century 2129 p + appendices
Blogaulaire,I keep the few reference titles I have on a bottom shelf of one of my bookcases to prevent such things from happening. It still isn't easy to drag those bad boys out tho without some ruckus:)
RE = Reader's Encyclopedia (I am getting tired of typing the whole thing out repeatedly). The only two "initialisms" I hold in high regard are of course OED and TLS. Pinnacles of civilization! Bastions of learning! I've said before, if I had the complete OED, I'd build a fort with it. Carefully.
lady t - Thanks for the response. At my friend's bookstore, she puts the heavy tomes high up figuring the customers can see what they are anyway and that the lower rungs are too valuable to 'waste'.

My monster New Twentieth Century Webster's -- well in the home office I almost use it as a coffee table so it stays low. Yet I just noticed I strained to put the Guy Merizzi "Dictionnaire Générale' high up 'cuz I'm mad at it. (I just brought it down to knee level by placing it atop Webster's and DARE - there I feel better :) )

BTW there's no (c) date in the DG but it includes the Oxford UP bilingual French-Eng English-Fr dictionary, which is sort of cool.
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