Monday, January 22, 2007


The Rule of the Five Ps

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Another life motto of mine. Ryan picked it up at work years ago and we have since adopted it into our language at home. We say it usually while slapping our foreheads in front of a closed bookshop while realizing we could have saved the trip by calling ahead to find out the shop hours. Its origins may be military; it seems like something that would be printed in a manual for field training. I bring it up because today I plowed through the Ps in The Reader's Encyclopedia. Highlights are:

pancake turner. In radio "shop talk," the sound technician controlling the playing of double-faced records. (p.816)

pandemonium (Gr., "all the demons"). A wild, unrestrained uproar, a tumultuous assembly, a regular row. The word was first used by Milton as the name of the principal city in Hell, "the high capital of Satan and his peers." (p.817)

Parnassus. A mountain near Delphi, Greece, with two summits, one of which was consecrated to Apollo and the Muses, the other to Bacchus. Owing to its connection with the Muses, Parnassus came to be regarded as the seat of poetry and music, and we still use such phrases as to climb Parnassus, meaning "to write poetry." Christopher Morley called his narrative on migratory book-selling Parnassus on Wheels (1917). (p.823)

penny dreadful. A morbidly sensational story of the kind at one time printed and sold for a penny. There is also a shilling shocker. (p.838)

per ardua ad astra (Lat.). Through hardship to the stars. Motto of the British Royal Air Force (R.A.F.). (p.839)

per aspera ad astra (Lat.). Through difficulties to the stars. The motto of Kansas. (p.839)

Pooh-Bah. Lord High Everything Else, an official in the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera The Mikado. (p.868)

portmanteau word. An artificial word made up of parts of others, and expressive of a combination denoted by those parts - such as squarson, a "cross" between a squire and a parson. Lewis Carroll invented the term in Through the Looking Glass, ch. vi; slithy, he says, meaning lithe and slimy, mimsy is flimsy and miserable, etc. It is so called because there are two meanings "packed up" in the one word. In Finnegan's Wake James Joyce makes frequent use of portmanteau words. (pp. 870-871)

Professorenroman (Ger.). Literally, "professor's novel." In German literary history a very convenient term applied to novels which are crammed full of reliably correct historical detail but which remain absolutely devoid of literary inspiration. (p.882)

There was much good stuff in this long section, including long entries under paradise, parliaments, prince, and proof (as in "printer's proof"). In other news, there is none. I've had a very quiet day at the shop. This morning I finally took down the Christmas lights. I made some new book displays, and priced and shelved the rest of the books from Saturday's library sale. I did this for whom? No customers, so... myself? Every year around this time I begin to know that my shop is a self-indulgent anachronism. Instead of just usually suspecting it. That sounds pessimistic, which I am not, however. It's ok, I tell myself, this is the off season, remember? I make money during the busy times of year, so the rest of the time I can relax. Chill out. PPPPP.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?