Medioxumous?

Image of God Terminus: “I Yield to No One”

My first real job was an odd one: Over a period of a year, I had to proofread and edit two dictionary databases. In the process, I began to collect strange words such as septemfluous, rotl, crwth, and medioxumous. The last of these means of or relating to the middle class of deities. This post comes from Philip Matyszak’s amusing book The Classical Compendium. It consists of some classical deities of which you have likely never heard:

Viriplaca. The goddess who reconciled wives with their husbands after a quarrel.

Vervactor, The god who ensured a favourable first ploughing of fallow land.

Vallonia. As you might expect, the goddess of valleys.

Terminus. The god of boundary stones.

Sterculinus. The god of manure spreading [and of Fox News?]

Rumina. The goddess who protects nursing mothers.

Nona. The goddess who, with Decima, presided over the final months of pregnancy.

Meliona. The goddess of bees and honey.

Laverna [and Shirley?]. The goddess of thieves and conmen.

Worse Than Murder?

Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859)

To put it simply, Thomas De Quincey was an opium addict. There were times when he wrote like an angel. Other times, reading him could be heavy slogging. Oft times you will find both in the same book, or even in the same essay. I have just finished reading his long essay “On Murder, Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” His description of the crimes of serial murderer John Williams is detailed and ghastly. Yet earlier in the essay is the following light touch:

For, if once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing, and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Once begun on this downward path, you never know where you are to stop. Many a man has dated his ruin from some murder or other that perhaps he thought little of at the time.

Improbable Rhymes

No doubt you’ve heard of those one-of-a-kind words in English that just won’t rhyme with any other words. Well, it seems that the Futility Closet has punked three of those unrhymable words: month, orange, and oblige. Let’s have a look-see at Willard R. Espy’s poem on the subject:

Procrustes

It is unth-
inkable to find
A rhyme for month
Except this special kind.

The four eng-
ineers
Wore orange
Brassieres.

Love’s lost its glow?
No need to lie; j-
ust tell me “go!”
And I’ll oblige.

In the meantime, I’ll go searching for those four engineers wearing orange brassieres.

Biggest Goops of 2021

Nicki Minaj: This Dingbat Takes the Cake

After coming out against Year-in-Review news stories, I thought I’d contradict myself by highlighting the stupidest people of the past year. Think of it as Stupidity-in-Review, which is not quite the same thing.

NICKI MINAJ pops right up to the top of my list. During a global pandemic, she refuses to get vaccinated because of the (unnamed) cousin’s friend in Trinidad whose testicles became swollen and became impotent as a result. Well, that goes smack against the experience of my grand nephew’s proctologist’s accountant’s client who had no problems whatsoever—except for the painful anal probe when he was kidnapped by a UFO.

JANUARY 6 INSURRECTIONISTS run a close second. If most were tried for treason and executed, there would be a lot of rental units in the basement apartments of their mothers that would suddenly become available in Red States.

GWYNETH PALTROW. Speaking of Goops, there’s this actress who is actually trying to own the term without quite understanding what it means. With her belong many nabobs in the WELLNESS COMMUNITY who don’t understand that their belief systems do not deter potentially fatal viruses.

DONALD J. TRUMP who still thinks there are 70 million idiots just waiting to do his bidding. Hey, America knows how to forget losers.

QANON, yesterday’s favorite conspiracy source, has been outed thanks to an HBO documentary series, and is now running out of steam fast. (Reminds me, I need to go to the basement of the pizzeria to munch on some fresh babies.)

New Olympic Events

Get Ready for These New Events in Paris 2024

In the above picture, Moldovan women athletes are synchronously showing amazement at a random consonant, in this case the letter “T.” Below, however, are some actual events planned for the next summer Olympics:

  • Team Parcheesi. Expect the Chinese to win gold here.
  • Underwater Track Cycling. Canada and New Zealand are already gearing up for this event.
  • Low-Jump. Exactly what it sounds like: medalists must leave the ground, but only for a few millimeters. The world record is currently held by Burkina Faso at 11.68 mm.
  • Ballroom Balance Beam. Ballroom dancing with a man and a woman as partners atop a balance beam. Both are expected to stick the landing … but exactly where I am not at liberty to say.
  • Dog Walking. Contestants must walk a pack of at least ten dogs and are downgraded for the dogs’ disobedience, toilet, and sniffing stops.
  • Sand Kayaking. How fast can contestants be when they have to paddle on sand dunes of various heights?
  • Dumpster Diving. Exactly what it sounds like. The dumpsters are filled with plastic detritus from the Pacific Garbage Patch, from heights of 10, 20, and 30 meters.
  • Women’s Cubic Beach Volleyball. The same as beach volleyball, but the “ball” is an inflatable cube. What matters most, however, is the skimpiness of the bikinis worn.
  • Blind Man’s Buff. Played on a 10-acre obstacle course.
  • Weight Watchers Watch Party. Judges will look for the most vapid and overweight participants in home watch parties. The U.S. is expected to win the Lead Medal at this event during most Olympics.

Billionaires in Space

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos

I find it amusing that two billionaire CEOs have decided to put their lives on the line and fly their own ships into space. First, it was Jeff Bezos of Amazon; then, Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.

Another “billionaire” comes to mind as a good candidate for space travel—even though his orange hair and facial coloring suggests he might himself be a space alien. Just to be sure, we can put him on a ship to Jupiter. You could click here to find out what would happen to Donald J. Trump on the largest planet in our solar system.

Perhaps sending CEOs into outer space would be a good way of thinning the herd. I’m all for that!

Marketing Metastasis

It All Started with Coca Cola

In 1985, the Coca Cola Company came out with New Coke, which never really took off. To recover from their gaffe, they decided to keep the old formula as Coca Cola Classic. In the process, they discovered that taking over more shelf space with other products bearing the Coke logo was a win-win for the Corporation. So now today you can buy Coke with exclusive new chicken liver flavor, with crushed pretzels, with overtones of sulfuric acid, and with extra corn syrup.

At the same time, all the other old brands have similarly metastasized. Ritz Crackers. Doritos. Ocean Spray. Reese’s. Cheez-It. Cheetos. Triscuit. The list goes on and on. Note, however, that the brands involved in multiplying themselves are products with a long shelf life. You can’t achieve the same success with celery, parsley, Gravenstein apples, or dragon fruit.

When I had to buy some Ocean Spray cranberry juice a couple of weeks ago (it’s good if you have a urinary tract infection), I had a hard time find just plain original cranberry juice. Needless to say, I was not swayed by the new Clam*Berry flavor or the one with sauerkraut flavoring added.

I suppose the idea is to make smaller brands scared by the multiplicity of variations—though what happens when you run out of all the popular variants?

Even Trader Joe’s has gotten into the act, with a kind of dill pickle flavored popcorn. It really wasn’t very good.

At some point, a lot of these *NEW* flavors will be duds. Then maybe we won’t be presented with so many weird options.

Tarnmoor’s Inferno

Dante’s Inferno as Visualized by Gustave Doré

Of course, Dante Alighieri was the first poet to give us the Grand Tour of Hell, but I am also influenced by a comic strip from my earlier years called “Hatlo’s Inferno,” by Jimmy Hatlo (1897-1963). In the same vein as Mr. Hatlo, I would like to mention a number of my pet peeves that deserve eternal punishment in the flames of Heck:

  • The guy who takes up a valuable parking space for what seems hours while he is finger f—ing his smart phone.
  • The freeway driver who has been warned by huge signs for miles to change lanes, and who does it at the last possible second with millimeters to spare.
  • The supermarket shopper who treats her shopping cart as an aisle blocker while she memorizes all the varieties of Campbell Soups.
  • The airport public address system which announces gate changes in demotic Urdu while passengers vainly attempt to unscramble what is being said.
  • The cyclists and e-scooter riders who insist on sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians.
  • The weather forecaster who’s always talking about a chance of rain, even if the probability is 0.0001%.
  • The guy who mumbles something about “freedom” while objecting to your wearing a face mask (naturally, they’ve never received their Covid-19 vaccinations).
  • The neighborhood kids who gleefully and maliciously play in your yard.

Hatlo’s Inferno: Hell for Funsies

Just let me catch my breath, and I’ll find a few dozen more things to complain about. At my age, I’m entitled.

A Poem About Donkeys

“With Monstrous Head and Sickening Cry”

Having just finished re-reading G. K. Chesterton’s Autobiography, my mind is still reeling with his view of life. Here is one of his funniest poems, entitled, simply, “The Donkey”:

 When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

The last quatrain refers to Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on the original Palm Sunday, mounted on a donkey.

Fun in a Raging Hellscape

Weird Al Yankovic

Yes, it is possible to have fun in times of adversity. Today, I saw a YouTube video with Weird Al Yankovic (with the help of the Gregory Brothers) called, pleasantly enough, “We’re All Doomed!” I haven’t laughed so hard for weeks. Without further ado, here is a link to it:

“We’re All Doomed – Trump vs Biden”

On this Thanksgiving, I would have to say that one of the things for which I am most thankful is humor. For a while, I thought my country’s political situation was so dire that even the comedians were losing heart. But now, it seems there’s a ghost of a chance we might recover.

I would have to thank not only Weird Al, but also Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert for helping to see me through these evil times—which are far from over.

So have a Happy Thanksgiving and don’t each too much turkey.