An Ordinary Post

Ordinarily ordinary

Ordinary. Hmm. A post about ordinary. Usual. Normal. Routine. Vanilla. Common. How do you talk about ordinary without seeming, well, ordinary?

Of course, if it weren’t for ordinary, we wouldn’t have extraordinary. It would just be extra. Everyone likes extraordinary. Some people get the “roar” in it when they pronounce extraordinary, as in “ext ROAR dinary.” And some like to make it into two words, like “extra ordinary.” I wonder why the definition of extraordinary means “unordinary”, and not “more ordinary than ordinary?” I imagine most people would hope to be viewed as extraordinary.

wordcloudOf course, we could be talking about the Ordinary in a Catholic Mass. That’s the part that is the same every time. Sometimes the same word is used to describe the book that defines the order of a Mass. That would be kind of a specialized post, though. Extraordinarily arcane and esoteric.

Or maybe we could talk about going down for the ordinary at the Boar’s Head. In archaic English this referred to a one-choice, one-price meal served at an inn. A sort of old-world blue plate lunch special. We could save up a couple of ordinaries to pay for it. That’s what we used to call penny-farthings here in North America when we were still under the British.

When they read your last will and testament, they used to read it in front of an Ordinary. Now they call them Probate judges. Or we could talk about the area in a coat of arms that contains the ordinaries. That would be kind of dull, though.

In fact, this whole post has turned out kind of ordinary. Dull and uninteresting. Guess that’s why it’s an ordinary post.

That Which Is Forbidden

You can’t do that!

“It is forbidden!” Even the sound of it is, well, forbidding. “I forbid you!” Ouch! I think it may be universal that prohibition of something that we desire to have, or something that we desire to do, stings a bit. The free will that we all have bristles when we’re told that we can’t. And if the forbidding seems arbitrary or capricious, it stings all the worse. But if nothing was forbidden, if we could do and say and have all the things we wanted, we would live a chaotic, anything-goes existence. We need some prohibitions to live together.

Alligator_no_swimming
Forbidden, but for a good reason

What is the purpose of forbidding something in the first place? Why are some things forbidden? And why are others not? Why are some things that were once forbidden now not forbidden? And why are some things that were perfectly fine in antiquity forbidden today? Seems rather, well, arbitrary and capricious, doesn’t it?

Read more ruminating

Pity Epitome

The epitome of an epitome

Epitome. Funny little word. Comes to us from Greek via Latin. Via comes to us via Latin, too. Does the English language have any words that aren’t nicked from some other language? I suppose it does, but even some of those seem to be from older languages. My kingdom for a single word that is genuinely and originally from the English language! But I digress. Thanks to Latin, I’m able to do just that.

Aristo
Aristotle

Anyway, epitome. From Latin, via the Greek word epitomē, which derived from epitemnein, meaning “abridge”, a conjunction of epi, meaning “in addition”, and temnein, meaning “to cut.” So, let’s see, “in addition to cut,” maybe “an additional cut,” abridgment, how did we get to where we are with today’s most prevalent meaning, a “perfect example of a particular quality or type?”

Read more ruminating

Drop What You’re Doing and Drop on By

Getting the drop on drop

Wow! Lots of meanings for the word drop. And lots of idioms. I’m just going to drop a few on you, and that will just be a drop in the bucket! So before the bottom drops out of your interest in this post, and you drop it like a hot rock, let me tell you I’m glad you could drop by, and feel free to drop me a line in the comments below.

words-639303_640The Daily Post folks just dropped this hint in my lap, and I sure hope I don’t drop the ball on this one, but before it’s over you might ask me to drop the subject. Now I can drop a clanger at the drop of a hat, so if I see your jaw drop, and it gets so quiet I can hear a pin drop, then I’ll know you’re about to tell me to drop dead.

Read more ruminating

Of All Things Fleeting

The most fleeting of all

What’s the most fleeting thing of all?

A fleeting glimpse? See it in your mind’s eye.

A fleeting sound? Hear it again, if you’re quiet.

A fleeting smell? Remember it, and it returns to you.

A fleeting taste? It will make your mouth water later.

A fleeting touch? Embrace it in your memory.

A fleeting emotion? It will return.

What’s the most fleeting thing of all?

The present. A fleeting moment, each one gone, irretrievably, replaced by the next one, inescapably. It may not be the last moment of your life, but it’s the last chance of your life to live that moment. Live it.

Fleeting

Compare and Contrast

The same, only different

So the Daily Post wants me to write a post about the word contrast. So I think, “Yeah, I can do this. I’ll do a compare and contrast essay.”

words-639303_640Then I begin to think, “Hmm, wonder what I could compare and contrast that wouldn’t involve too much, because time and all, and well, reasons.” So I begin pondering what to compare and contrast, with a keen eye towards something that’s easy, that I can do in a short session. And I ponder. And ponder. And then it hits me. Let’s compare and contrast the words compare and contrast! Brilliant!

So I trot off to find the dictionary and begin with definitions of both words. Well, actually, I started up the Google machine, but the word trotted implies action, and I want all of you to think of rudyblues as a Real Man of Action. A Real Man of Action doesn’t Google, he trots off.

Read more ruminating

In a Sentimental Mood

I just can’t fight this feeling

“Now don’t go all sentimental on us rudyblues.”

words-639303_640What? You want a post on the word sentimental, but I can’t get sentimental? That seems a bit constraining.

“Yes, we realize it’s difficult, but you do remember what happens when you wax nostalgic, don’t you? You get all weepy, and it kind of creeps us out.”

So you’re after an unsentimental post about sentimental? A cold, dispassionate analysis of a warm, passionate expression of sentiment?

“That’s exactly what we’re after! We want sentimental without all the ‘mental’ part.”

Read more ruminating