bells and whistles

Desirable or engaging additional features and fittings or, as described in the US magazine Atlantic in October 1982, “Pentagon slang for extravagant frills.” Originally, the phrase was used in a literal way in 18th and 19th century texts to refer to anyone or anything trying to make a lot of noise. Before modern electronics, there were really only two ways…

Video

Here’s something new! A trailer for Charger the Soldier, Book #1 of The Charger Chronicles:   The Charger Chronicles

leave no stone unturned

Try everything, leave nothing unattempted. The phrase has been used since the mid 1500s in its present form, but it originated in ancient Greece, in a tale told by Euripides. The tale goes this way: When Xerxes made war on the Greeks, and was vanquished at Salamis, he went away but left Mardonius behind to carry on the war in…

slapstick

There are two definitions for “slapstick,” though one derives from the other. A “slap stick” is a paddle designed to produce a loud whacking sound, formerly used by performers in farces. “Slapstick” is a type of physical comedy characterized by broad humor, absurd situations, chases, collisions, and crude practical jokes. The name “slapstick” comes from the Italian word batacchio —…

cool beans

A lighthearted nonsense phrase indicating approval or mild excitement. It began to be used in the late 60s and early 70s, popularized by the pop culture of the time.  As one of the commonest and most nourishing of human foods, beans have long been used as symbols of various aspects of life. Often a single bean means something, for example…

euphemisms for death

I promised I’d come back with the rest of the delightful euphemisms for death that I picked out of some long lists. Death is obviously not everybody’s favorite subject or we wouldn’t have so many substitutes for the correct name. Pushing up daisies — seems like a pleasant and worthwhile endeavor Crossed the rainbow bridge — sounds like fairyland, or…

boondocks

Since I did “boondoggle” mid-week, couldn’t resist checking out “boondocks” this time. “Boondocks” is a rural area, a remote and wild place. Sometimes applied to an out-of-the-way city or town considered backward and unsophisticated. The word was introduced by US military personnel fighting in the Philippine—American War (1899-1902), from the Tagalog “bundok” which means “mountain” or “remote and wild place.”…