Monday, March 29, 2010


I've been going to Spelling Bee every week but 2 since the beginning of the year. Robert has won twice. I won 2nd place a few weeks ago.

Tonight was my night.

1st: can't remember
2nd: duplicate
3rd: adventitious
4th: cromlech (I spelled it wrong but everyone also got out)
5th: ginkgo
6th: diptych

A diptych is like a triptych, but with 2 instead of 3. DUH.

-$10 gift certificate
-picture of me on the wall
-shirt that says I am champion (picture to come at later date, the only had xxlarges)


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Elsewhere on the Internet: Sleeveface is a great meme where people take pictures of themselves, covering up body parts with an album cover to create the illusion of the world beyond the margins of the album cover. Two Christmases ago, I told my family and we did a few. A couple of weeks ago, I finally submitted them to the website, and they've included two.

1. Ty as Bob Willis
2. Conn as Bob Dylan

Since they are not going to use the third, I present here for your viewing pleasure... Conn with ballet legs.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Short List: Songs with Marriage Proposals Gone Wrong

1. Sad Cowboy Song - Red Elvises
- "I gave her a ring, she gave me the finger."

2. I'm Down - The Beatles
- "Man buys ring, woman throws it away."

3. Last Night - Traveling Wilburys
- "I asked her to marry me, she smiled, and pulled out a knife."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Short List: S.O.S. Songs

1. Message in a Bottle - The Police

2. Save Us S.O.S. - Hot Hot Heat

3. S.O.S. - Rihanna

4. She Wolf - Shakira

Short List: Post-Apocalyptic Love Songs

1. Alive With the Glory of Love - Say Anything

2. Harsh Winds - Mon Frere

3. Talking World War III Blues - Bob Dylan

4. Nothing But Flowers - Talking Heads

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Songs I Should Sing in Rock Band 2

There are songs could sing, and some songs I have sung in Rock Band, but a lot of them have been too low, too high, too fast, too un-fun. These are the songs I would like to sing and that fit well with my voice and my happiness. This list is alphabetical by artist.

Swing Swing - All-American Rejects
Heartbreaker - Pat Benatar
Miss You - Blink 182
I Don't Care - Fall Out Boy
This Ain't A Scene, It's an Arms Race - Fall Out Boy
Clint Eastwood - Gorillaz
Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
My Own Worst Enemy - Lit
Nine in the Afternoon - Panic at the Disco
Somebody to Love - Queen
Many Shades of Black - The Raconteurs
Wolf Like Me - TV on the Radio
Buddy Holly - Weezer
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground - White Stripes

Short List: Songs about Meeting New People You Just Can't Use Right Now

1. Nice to Meet You Anyway - Gavin DeGraw

2. If I Ever Feel Better- Phoenix

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Free Rice Evidence

Free Rice is a great site where you can take endless vocabulary tests!

If you don't like vocabulary, you can take everlasting multiple choice tests on Art, Chemistry, Geography, Language Learning, and Math. Every time you get an answer right, the site donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme. It is so good.

The other day, a certain person I was speaking with asked me what my highest level was, and I said 48 out of 60, which I was not sure was true. It lead to terrible confessions about me being a liar all the time, which is a fact. So I played on Free Rice this evening until it was true. This is my screenshoot proof.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Songs I Could Sing at Karaoke From Hell

Karaoke From Hell is something that happens at Tiger Bar and Dante's where you sing karaoke in front of a live band. I have looked at their extensive song list, and these are the songs I believe I could pull off. This list is for me for later for reference.

The Band – The Weight (but better with harmony)
Beatles – Honey Pie
Pat Benatar - Heartbreaker
Elvis Costello – Peace Love and Understanding
Cream – Sunshine of Your Love (but better with harmony)
Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - I Hate Myself for Loving You
Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
Peggy Lee – Big Spender
Peggy Lee - Fever
Roy Orbison – You Got It
Pixies – Where is My Mind?
Tracy Bonham - Mother, Mother
Traveling Wilburys – Handle Me With Care

Monday, March 15, 2010


Epic Redemption!

You'll get your comics in a bit, nerdlies.

This is a story about spelling bees. Story about good, story about bad.

In 8th grade I got out in on 'camouflage' but I didn't feel so bad because the 7th graders got the word list but we didn't but I was still a threat and I ended in 2nd place.

In college, I got out on 'dilapidated' and ended in 3rd place, and I got a UP license plate. (I would have won if I had gotten it right, because my next word was 'bauxite' and his next word was 'accouchement' and the 3rd guy was not a threat.)

Two weeks ago, I got out on the first round word 'dairy.' SHHHHHHHH.


This week I had fanbase and housemates and friends and my goodness my Guinness I was sure I would get out soon if not immediately. But then!

Round One: foreign
Round Two: lozenge
Round Three: umpirage
Round Four: emanometer (I got out on it. BUT SO DID EVERYONE ELSE. The entire 10+ people all got their words wrong, so we all came back.)
Round Four: quagga
Round Five: crwth (this round narrows it down to two)
Round Six: kakorrhaphiophobia (I got that one wrong but she was wrong too)
Round Six: prosopagnosia (I got that one wrong but she was wrong too)
Round Five: teosinte (I got it wrong, she got gentileness right, she wins)


(2nd place prize is a $5 gift certificate to Mississippi Pizza)
(3rd place prize is you're fired)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Short List: Songs in Which Cupid Uses Modern Warfare and Tactics

1. Happy Valentine's Day - Outkast

2. Geek in the Pink - Jason Mraz

3. LoveGame - Lady Gaga

4. Cupid's Chokehold - Gym Class Heroes

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Insignificant Linguistics Mystery: Quizás

The other day the word 'quizás' came up at my office. It means 'maybe' in Spanish. The 'z' is pronounced lightly, like an 's' in Spanish. I tricked someone into letting me think aloud about where the word might come from. This is that story.

Quizás is 1/3rd of the repetitive title of the famous Nat King Cole song, "Quizás, Quizás, Quizás." This song is remarkable for two reasons. First of all, Nat King Cole does not speak Spanish, he enunciates Spanish. It's a hilarious song to listen to because every single syllable is brought into the spotlight, when it should really be rushed past as a schwa. "es-tas pear-dee-en-dow ell tee-emm-po, pain-san-do, pain-san-do." Secondly, I first knew about this song in English, 'Perhaps,' as sung by Cake. The lyrics are similar, but the Spanish one seems a little simplified. That phonetic line above is translated as "You are losing time, thinking, thinking." In English that part is "If you can't make your mind up, we'll never get started." Anyway, I like listening to the Cake song, and making fun of the NKC (do people say that?) version.

So the word. At the time I was thinking it was either directly from Latin (because it looks like quiddity: 'whatness'), or Basque from the Latin, because it reminds me so much of 'izquierda' and 'zurda' which are two fantastic Basque loan words meaning 'directional left' and 'left-handed,' respectively. These words were brought in to Spanish because the Latin offering for talking about things on the left is 'sinister' which brings with it evil suspicious untrustworthy connotations that are not necessary when just trying to give directions. (The word for right is 'derecha,' very close to it's Latin 'directus.')

So I was hoping 'quizás' would also be in that fun category of 'Basque loan words' and I came home and looked through the index of Ralph Penny's excellent book "The History of the Spanish Language." I've done several presentations in Spanish classes about the history of Spanish, and Penny's book is my number one resource for detail and examples of how every little word got into Spanish.

Quizás is not listed in the index. :(

So this morning, I decided to try the internet. I don't have any go-to Spanish etymology websites (unlike English where I prefer etymonline and wordnik) so I just googled "Spanish etymology quizás." It turns out that Wiktionary pages for Spanish words give the word origin when they can. Awesome. It says there that 'quizás' comes from 'quizá' which comes from the two-word Latin phrase, "qui sapit' meaning "who knows?"

Now having learned the real story, I don't feel bad for not guessing it. Over time, naturally lazy tongues have eroded away the back of the word, so the clues to the common root 'saber' in Spanish or 'sapere' in Latin, is gone, and the 'qui' at the beginning did not lead me to focusing on a 'someone,' just that it was ultimately from Latin.

Mystery solved!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Short List: Punctuation Songs

1. Parentheses - The Blow

2. Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Word Game: License to Spell

(That is a terrible name for this game. I've been trying to think of a more graceful one for weeks.)

There is a game I have created that I often play as a passenger on the roads of life. The game involves license plates and spelling but not anagrams. (It doesn't work with vanity plates like the one above that I came up with and I thought was hilarious when I was younger.) (It is also hilarious now.)

So basically, on most license plates there is a series of 3 letters like this:

You take the 3 letters, keep them in order, and try to come up with as many words as possible that have those letters in that order. They can be word-initial, they can be together or separate, but they must stay in that order. So for the above example, words could be have these possible orders: BQU_, _BQU, B_QU_, _B_Q_U, ___B___QU___, etc. Bequeath, bezique (it's a card game), Albuquerque, Bisquick... That combination is pretty hard, actually, my list is here: BQU.

You can use proper names, you can use company names, you can use hyphenated words, and compound words. If you're really stuck you can use a two-word phrase like "be quiet" just so you can get some satisfaction at having found at least one solution. It's not really about points, or length. Some of the shortest words are quite elegant, but the long ones can be impressive purely for their size.

The purpose of the game is to keep your brain occupied during silent two-person car trips, or to have something to do with the driver that engages them but also keeps their eyes on the road. When it's a really good combination, I try to remember them and make it a tag on I haven't done that so much, but I'm working on it.


You can also play this game in a stationary position, you just need 3 letters. The simplest way to randomly choose 3 letters is to ask someone in the room for their initials, or think of the full name of a famous person. I have made a list using my own initials, BMH. You can see the kind of liberties I took for the sake of creating a longer list.

I just asked a housemate for his initials, which are TGG, which seems to require an "ing" nearly every time to get all three of those letters in together. At first, I thought he said TTG, so I made a list of those, too.

Anyway, feel free to play. Some are easy and endless, some are impossibly hard, but most of them are a good combination of low-hanging fruit and satisfying brain teasers. If you want clarification on rules, or have a suggestion of how to take the game to the next level, lemme know.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Short Lists: Songs in Which God Speaks

1. Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan

2. That's Why I Love Mankind - Randy Newman

2. 100 Pounds of Clay - Gene McDaniels

Short List: Songs with Intentional Stuttering

1. My Generation - the Who

2. Stuttering - Ben's Brother

3. There's a Fire - OK Go

4. We Get On - Kate Nash

5. Kiss Off - Violent Femmes

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010