Monday, December 22, 2008

The Definitive Authority of the M.E.D.

As the sole and senior editor of the Mooseford English Dictionary, I feel a sense of responsibility and love towards the ever-evolving linguistic map of the alces alces herd. The guiding philosophy here at the MED has always been inclusive and descriptivist. I feel that languages should have open borders, especially English, which has always been a big pot of gumbo served round the clock at Ellis Island. Give us your weird, your wacky, your huddled words yearning to breath free. If a word is useful, let it in. If not useful, at least entertaining or amusing.

In that spirit, here are two of the latest additions to reach the home office:


I coined this at work to describe the attribute of being eye-grabbing or eye-catching. I would have gone with "eye-catch", but that sounds like a disease. "I'm afraid you have acute macular degeneration, known in layman's terms as eye-catch". Rather, when something's got eye-grab, you can't help but look at it - you don't know why, but you can't look away. Cut to the design room, after several hours of grindingly slow progress: "What do you think about this, Moose?" "Dammit, that's got eye-grab! I say we GO with it!" Note: The use of the word 'eye-grab' works best if you're smoking, drinking whiskey, and dressed in formal clothes from the late 50s - early 60s.

2. "DUNCH"

This word was invented by my lovely wife, who wanted a word to describe a meal between lunch and dinner. The word needed to be as useful for invitational purposes as its mid-morning mirror 'brunch'. As in, "Let's meet for dunch tomorrow afternoon." We road-tested "linner", but that sounded too thin, too unsatisfying. Dunch is filling but not heavy, and easy but not quick. Dunch menus are typically lunch based but with a few dinner options thrown in. You can have the big salad or the chicken sandwich, but you might want to go for the pasta. Hey, it's dunch, it's cool - have whatever.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Scattered But Here

It's the work schedule. Or lack of schedule combined with hectic pace and odd hours. There's so much to do and so little time, sometimes I get scattered. But I'm not alone. Yesterday I listened to a crazy edition of "This American Life" in which they tried to cram as many stories as possible into a one hour show. It was inspired by a theater group called the Neo-Futurists, who perform thirty plays in one hour. I also ran across a story project at Smith Magazine called Six Word Memoirs, in which (you guessed it) people sum up their lives in six words. The first collection is called "Not Quite What I Was Planning", which is a wonderful life and one I can relate to.

A six word life. Can you do it? Mine was not quite the encapsulating haiku-like entry of the title story, but it sums up a lot about my journey thus far:

Am I dreaming?
No, I'm not.

True dat.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Best of All Possible Worlds

So I made it through a case of bronchitis and not once did I take any of those damn antibiotics my doctor tried to foist on me (just say no to drugs, kids!). Antibiotics are his answer to everything. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill some more. He probably weeds his garden with napalm.

I stuck to ginger tea, marshmallow root, sleep, green food, and got used to the idea of coughing up lots and lots (and lots) of phlegm. But that's what the body is supposed to do - get rid of whatever is making it sick. But for some reason, we are led to believe that we must never, ever, ever feel bad. Not for one second. Have a cough? Suppress it. Have a runny nose? Make it stop! Don't let your body cleanse, it might be...uncomfortable. Well no thanks, Dr. Quackenbush.

I think this idea has permeated the rest of my life as well. I've been so afraid of confronting painful situations such as arguments and confrontations that I've forgotten that it might be useful pain to go through. For example, maybe I get into an argument with my wife but maybe I come out knowing something new about how I feel or what I want. If I keep looking at arguments in isolation, I'll never learn that seen in the context of my life's continuity, there is always something to be learned from them. I'll avoid the argument, miss the growth, and make the situation worse than when it started.

Maybe it's an American thing. Maybe we carry around a sense of entitlement to always feeling pain-free, trouble-free, and without any obstacles to our own desires. The right to pursue happiness is sacred, so screw everything else.

Or maybe it's just my hangup. I'm willing to own that.