Monthly Archives: April 2016

The slimmest of margins

The recent death of Wagon Mound’s admired and beloved basketball coach, Alfred Romero, 93, has caused many folks — especially sports fanatics in New Mexico — to ponder many of his teams’ accomplishments.

This is not intended to duplicate the obituary that appeared in the Optic and other newspapers, nor does it pretend to be an insider’s view of the man’s coaching career.

I never knew — merely knew of — Romero; my job, while still in high school, was to cover high school sports for the Las Vegas Daily Optic, which in those days published every day except Sunday.

That said, as an avid and long-time follower of sports in this part of the state, I marvel at how consistently Romero was able to field hoops teams that went far into tournament play each month of March.

Ben Moffett and Chuck Ferris, who have compiled volumes of information about high school sports in New Mexico, provided some facts for this column.

Obviously, my admiration of Romero started early in life. He’d bring his hard-fighting crew of Wagon Mound Trojans to Las Vegas to battle our local teams, the West Las Vegas Dons, the Las Vegas High School Cardinals and the Immaculate Conception Colts. Continue reading

Can one be avauntular?

Often I appreciate and therefore adopt new words. At a gathering where I ran into a niece, I heard her say, “You’re so avuncular.” The “ular” ending told me the word likely is an adjective, which it is. I’d heard and used the word before, and I’m glad of my specific relationship with Kathy: I’m her uncle, and to her, I’m avuncular, I suppose because I act like an uncle.

But why doesn’t the word have a feminine counterpart? Why can’t a woman who acts like an aunt be considered avauntular? Let’s decide right now to coin that word.

The Medina side of my family, at one time comprising 16 siblings, produced numerous aunts. Even those who married my uncles (some more than once) also became aunts, and therefore avauntular.

I like the Merriam-Webster definition best: “Like an uncle; kind or friendly like an uncle.”

Why doesn’t the English language have the counterpart? It’s true that we can find “avauntular” in a dictionary, but it’ll be there only as a contrast, a word that would have been legitimized had dictionarians gotten around to including it there. Continue reading

Voy a typiar mi column

When two languages bump into each other, they borrow stuff.

English: “Hey, Español! I need a word for these flying pests. Can I borrow ‘mosquito’?”

Español: “No problemo. While we are on the topic, I could use ‘boycott’ (though I might spell it ‘boicot’).”

Ahora voy a typiar mi column. Come on now! You had no trouble getting el gisto of that sentence. And in the near future, you’re likely to be seeing much more of this kind of linguistic mélange.

At issue is a recent conference of Royal Spanish Academy, one outcome of which was the fear of English (or slightly modified) words that make it into Spanish. That was one concern of attendees of the parley in Puerto Rico.

Simply, many of the planet’s half-billion speakers of Spanish have noticed a tendency to Spanishize many English words.

A Los Angeles Times article by Caroline A. Miranda provides words like “drone,” which becomes “dron” and even “Botox” and “selfie” as among the newcomers. The tug-of-words over “selfie” could result in a compromise, in which we call it an “auto-foto” instead. Continue reading

Fear of falling

When my siblings and I were younger, the summer highlight was a “picinic” (Mom always added a syllable to that word, assuming that somehow the extra vowel would pique our pleasure) around Mora, Holman Hill or Tres Ritos, where we children waded and climbed.

Close to where Mom spread out her picinic blanket, my brother Severino, sister Evangeline and I got our fill of thrills as we tested our climbing skills in the hills.

But Mom hovered over us, warning us of loose rocks, poison ivy, wild bears and rattlers, but we were fearless. Severino would dance atop a loose rock, imitating Tarzan, then jumping off as the rock began to slip. That did not amuse our parents.

What gave us that derring-do? Simply, it was our youth. Most kids can’t fathom breaking a limb after tumbling down Holman Hill. The oldest siblings, Dolores and Dorothy, weren’t interested in meeting their Maker — not yet, and that left the three youngest to attempt incredible feats.

Once, possibly in preparation for a mini-Everest trek, I climbed atop our backyard “casita,” a coal shed for our Railroad Avenue home. I jumped off the highest point. No problem. Climbed back up but this time with a dozen stacked asbestos shingles. Still no appreciable difference. After several trips, I’d added almost two feet of height, but the darn roof extension I’d contrived slid off, sending me downward, with my using entirely different body parts to break the fall. Continue reading