Monthly Archives: October 2009

Warding off mal ojo

Three of us were at La Kocina de Raphael earlier this month when we observed a ritual I’d not seen in 30 years.

My son Stan, with his wife Lisbeth, with daughter Ellen Vestergaard, 7 months, joined me at the restaurant for lunch. In a nearby booth, behind Ellen, were three women who were causing my granddaughter to turn her head to see them. Ellen enjoyed the sights.

As the women got ready to leave, they asked questions as to the baby’s sex, age, name. Then the oldest placed her thumb on Ellen’s forehead, going from top to bottom, then from left to right. Continue reading

Poofreader on vacation?

In reading this week’s column, you might get the impression the poofreader is on vacation. That’s a common enough assumption but a rare occurrence. But look carefully. Your job is to figure out that we mean by these cryptic titles to books, movies, plays and TV programs.

But be warned: Some of the puns and plays on words are atrocious; there’s bilinguality, far-fetchedness and even a few titles made to fit the local scene. Most titles involve changing a single letter; occasionally, you may need to make two changes or even divide a word.

Example: Arnold Schwarzenegger works as a remorseless, opinionated and efficient hairdresser. Answer: The Perminator (The Terminator). Example: George Clooney and his crew go on an expedition to locate absolutely the best bird, even if it spends its life delivering babies. (The Perfect Stork, The Perfect Storm)

Readers’ answers will appear in the Nov. 4 Work of Art. Please e-mail or snail mail your answers. Continue reading

‘Whatever’: a huge put-down

On a recent talk show, a caller said the radio guest had “hit the nail on the head.” Wow, what perception!

I don’t mean to appear haughty, but I find it hard — always have — to commend such a caller for profundity. “Hit the nail on the head” is a metaphor meaning that what the guest said was absolutely correct. Up to that time, I’d never met-a-phor I didn’t like.

How is it possible to comment further without carting out the vitriol and sarcasm? I’ll try.

Years ago, before I developed a fear of heights, I’d climb the barn roof at my father-in-law’s farm near Springer to help with repairs. We used corrugated sheets of tin, secured with nails that contained a rubber grommet to make a seal, or else a soft head that covered the hole we just made. Continue reading

A two-bit effort

One can almost see and hear them now: Louella, Patsy, Angela, Louise, Dolores and Julie leading a cheer. These cheerleaders for Immaculate Conception School went through the motions as they shouted:

“Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar. All for the Colts, stand up and holler.” They chanted that way back in the ‘50s.

Much is implied in that shout. First, you may have surmised that if eight bits equal a dollar, a “bit” is 12-1/2 cents and that the Colts are either a basketball or a football team. And you may already know the school no longer exists.

I was drawn to the argument someone made a few years back about how inadequate coins and currency are. If we’d all been born with only eight fingers, we wouldn’t have the dime or the half-dollar, or, for that matter, any other current currency or coins. Continue reading