Book Review – Armada by Ernest Cline

When I went to BookPeople a couple of weeks ago for the reading/book signing of “The Oracle Year” by Charles Soule,  I also picked up a copy of a signed edition of “Armada” by Ernest Cline. I pretty much purchase dead tree books for only two reasons these days:

  1. I love the book and/or author so much (for example, Neil Gaiman) that I want the hardback version on my bookshelves.
  2. I’ve either had the author sign the book or the bookstore has signed editions so I can add it to my bookshelves.

Armada by Ernest Cline“Armada” fell into the number 2 category. Other than one review from a friend of mine shortly after it was published almost 3 years ago (and that didn’t matter because I couldn’t remember if it was a good review or a bad review), I hadn’t seen any other reviews on the book and my first thought was, “Well, it’s the same author who wrote “Ready Player One” so it’s probably a good read.”

When I was checking out, the clerk asked me if I’d seen the movie. We both quickly figured out he was referencing Cline’s first book “Ready Player One” and had a good laugh. I told him that reading the inside flap description made “Armada” sound like another “The Last Starfighter” and he said, “You’d be pretty close in getting that impression.”

So, a few days ago I had the time to start reading “Armada”  and finished it last night.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way; “Armada” is indeed another story with constant references to pop culture from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. If you liked “Ready Player One” because of those references, then you should LOVE “Armada” all to pieces. It felt like there were double or triple the pop culture references, mostly under the umbrella of sci-fi, (video games, movies, TV shows, etc.) but also a lot of music and even commercial jingles. I enjoy those references as much as most people who lived through them, but they really almost got to be too heavy-handed in their use in this story.

I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have not read the book and intend to, so I’ll try to keep this as generic as possible, but you already have an idea from “The Last Starfighter” comparison above.

And I’ll say from the beginning; I wanted to like this book. I really, really enjoyed “Ready Player One”, so I was hoping that “Armada” would be just as good, if not better than “Ready Player One.” I mean, there’s always that question when you have such a hit like “Ready Player One” as your first book,  “Will the author’s sophomore book be as good as their freshman offering?”

In this case, close, but no cigar.

Zach Lightman is a high school senior about to graduate and contemplating life after school. He’s a video playing kind of nerd who works in a video game store after school and on weekends and lives with his widowed mom. His father died in a sewage plant accident when Zach was less than a year old. His two best friends are gamers too, but they’re not as good as Zach.

It turns out that all the top video games on the market are just a way for Big Brother to find out who their best defenders might be because aliens are coming to destroy the world. Turns out his boss at the video game store is not who Zach thinks he is; his dad may or may not have really died in the shit plant accident; and he meets a super smart beautiful girl his age who’s being recruited as well.

You could probably write the rest of this book yourself. Right down to the schmaltzy ending.

I think the most disappointing thing was that this felt like a “write by the numbers” story. The characters were cardboard, plucked from central casting, given a standard background and then placed in a formulaic “80’s coming of age saving the world tale” that was so easy to predict it lost any of its suspense. I’ve often said there’s nothing wrong with a formulaic story if it’s handled properly. If you give the characters lives that are as real as possible and work the story in such a way that plotting is not as obvious as one plus one equals two, then you craft a story that makes it stand out from the formula.

“Armada” is a perfectly readable and serviceable story, but it is not even close to being as good as “Ready Player One.” I felt like Cline just relied on the standard tropes for this kind of story and put no effort into making it stand out. It was disappointing.

I’m sure Cline has another great book in him, but it’s not this one.

Posted in Books, Science Fiction | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Book Review – The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

The Oracle Year coverA couple of months ago I was reading about a new book coming out titled “The Oracle Year” by Charles Soule (the “e” is silent) and what caught my attention in the review was that the writer was also a writer for comic books such as “Daredevil”, “She-Hulk” and others. I haven’t really read any new comics in the past decade, at least, so I haven’t read any of his comic book work but I usually enjoy novels written by comic book writers. I love Neil Gaiman and have been impressed by Peter David, Steve Englehart, and others, so I made a mental note to look into “The Oracle Year” when it was published.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was looking over the list of authors coming to Book People bookstore here in Austin to do readings and signings, and there was the note that Charles Soule would be there on Wednesday evening, April 25th to read and sign his new book, which had recently hit the shelves. I knew I would be there as well.

Charles Soule, author of The Oracle Year, reading and signing at Book People in Austin, TexasThere were only about 12-14 people present, so after Mr. Soule read the second chapter of his book (I had already read up through Chapter 7 while waiting for the event to begin), it was good to hear that the way I “heard” the characters speaking and interacting in my head was exactly how the author read them, with the same inflections and tones. Afterward, we asked questions and then the book signing began.

“The Oracle Year” centers around Will Dando (The Oracle) who awakens one morning from a dream with 108 specific predictions in his head of things that will happen in the future. To protect his anonymity, he sets up a super-secure website with the help of The Florida Ladies (don’t ask, just read the book) and he and his investment banker friend Hamza selectively release a few of the predictions, netting them billions of dollars from corporations looking for any advantage in their business forecast models.

Autographed page of The Oracle YearBut Will is not about the money at all. He’s about social good and looking out for the other guy. He meets a beautiful reporter at an event that he knows will cause some people to die, hoping that his call to the police and perhaps even his anonymous presence will change the prediction, but it doesn’t. In fact, Will soon discovers, with religious leaders calling him the AntiChrist and his own government leaving no stone unturned in trying to discover his identity, that the predictions work together for some reason. A reason that seems to be a nefarious one. The book leads us around the world with action, thrills, and a satisfying ending to such a complicated tale.

The characters work well, which I would expect because comic book characterization is important and Charles Soule’s many admirers attest to his ability to create believable characters. The story and plot hold up well and, frankly, longer than I expected. It was a page-turner of a pleasant read and I have no doubt that Charles Soule’s next novel will be even better.

I recommend “The Oracle Year” for a good read.

Posted in Books, Bookstores, Comic Books | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Tolkien Reading Day 2018

J.R.R. TolkienToday is Tolkien Reading Day and the theme of Tolkien Reading Day 2018 is Home and Hearth: the many ways of being a Hobbit.

I first fell in love with Tolkien’s work when a classmate in the 10th grade sold me his paperback trilogy of “Lord of the Rings” for $5 so he would have some beer money. I devoured those three books in about 10 days and bought “The Hobbit” at a newsstand near my high school shortly after that.

Several years later I bought the hardback version of The Silmarillion, but I could never get past the first few pages. I tried again a few years after that with the same result. I wish I could have made my way through this book because I loved his way with words and languages, but I count myself sadly incapable of rising to the intellect needed to understand and enjoy that work.

Here’s a little bit I wrote about Tolkien on his birthday a few years back.

Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings parody of the J. R. R. Tolkien classicI never read any of Tolkien’s other works; I did, however, read Harvard Lampoon’s “Bored of the Rings” parody and I have re-read “Lord of the Rings” several times over the years since I first read it in the 10th grade, and loved it every time, so I hope that counts for something, lol.

And why is it celebrated on THIS day? Well, you’ll have to read the link to find out.

Happy Tolkien Reading Day 2018!

Posted in Authors | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Happy Tolkien Reading Day 2018

It’s “Deep-Seated” Not “Deep-Seeded”

Deep-seated versus deep-seededI glanced up from my laptop screen to look at one of the TV screens we keep on all the time in our External Affairs office to monitor news around the country. On the screen, the closed captioning underneath the image indicated that someone had said something “was deep-seeded” and I fought the urge to jump out of my chair and rush the TV set because it’s “deep-seated” not “deep-seeded.”

The only thing that stopped me was the fact that the TV is mounted 8 feet in the air on the wall. Lucky TV!

But it wasn’t really the TV’s fault, of course. It was whoever was transcribing the spoken words for the closed captioning. In fact, today’s occurrence is but the latest of many, many such malapropisms creeping into closed captioning. So many that I am wondering if transcribing for closed captioning is now being done by a computer that “hears” the speaker’s words and spells out the closest approximation it can come up with, instead of a person who would understand the subtleties of spoken language and type the correct words or phrase within its context.

It’s interesting that this happened today because, coincidentally,  3 years ago today I blogged about “20 Phrases You’ve Likely Misused” and in the article I was citing was the misused phrase, “deep-seeded” so it felt like deja vu.

Posted in Grammar, Spelling | Tagged , , | Comments Off on It’s “Deep-Seated” Not “Deep-Seeded”

Do You Read Books?

Open books on tableAs an avid and voracious reader this statistic, from the Pew Research Center, that 26% of American adults have not read even a part of a book in the past year just blows my mind. Are you part of the 26%, or the 74%? Do you read books?

I DO know people who don’t typically read books. One of my best friends; I’ve never seen him with a book in his hands, or tell me about a book he has read. I’ve gifted him a couple of books and he’s never indicated if he has read them or not. I know he reads. He reads newspapers, magazines, online articles and such. But I can’t recall ever seeing or knowing about him reading a book.

My late father quit school after the 8th grade and though he was not illiterate by any means, reading was difficult for him. It may have had more to do with his eyesight than anything else and by the time he was old enough to obtain the kind of glasses he needed to see clearly, he was no longer in school being taught how to read. When I was 2 to 4 years old I would climb up into his lap at the breakfast table (especially on Sunday mornings) and he would read the comic strips to me. Around the time I was 4 to 5 he stopped and my mom told me later in life it was because I was reading the comic strips faster than he was and correcting him when he misread or mispronounced a word. It embarrassed him. I have always regretted that, though of course at the time in my young mind I was just showing my father how good I was doing and looking for his praise. It was never, ever meant to embarrass him. Throughout his life I saw him read newspapers and magazines, but I can’t recall ever seeing him read a book.

The article goes on to state that science seems to support the finding that reading books is good for you on several levels. Such as:

Book MemeReading fiction can help you be more open-minded and creative – Getting into the minds of other people through stories about them makes it possible for you to broaden your own mind and thought processes and realize that there are things you never considered that are indeed possible.

People who read books live longer – I like that scientific conclusion! And the reasons seem valid.

Reading 50 books a year is something you can actually accomplish – One of my favorite things about Goodreads is the annual reading challenge. You take part in it by setting a goal of how many books you want to read in the upcoming year and then track them throughout the year. This was something I had never done before; track the number of books I read. Since taking part in this for the past 5 full years (2011 was a partial year because I started late in the year and of course, 2018 is not complete yet) my most prodigious year was 2014 when I read 58 books. My least was in 2012 when I read 22 books. Thus far this year I have read 14 books. All of that to say I agree that you CAN read a book a week if you wish, but even if you read a book a month you’ve made quite an accomplishment.

Successful people are book readers – For this, I would say it depends on your definition of success. I do like to see what people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, and Barack Obama are reading and recommending, but I also search for the types of books that I feel will touch me where I am in my life right now and where I want to go in the future. Personal success is just as, if not more, important than what the world considers successful.

So, what is the secret to getting adults to read books? I’m not a professional in this field by any means, but most likely it is to ignite that love of reading in them when they are children. Especially if you can find WHAT they like reading about so that they WANT to read. I don’t think you can force a child (or adult) to read, especially if they have some condition (like dyslexia) that makes it incredibly hard, but if you can find something that they want to read about, I think you have a better chance of sparking a love for reading in general.

Children reading books

Are you part of the 26%, or the 74%? Do you read books?

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Do You Read Books?

Proofreading Day

"Keep Clam and ProofreadWho knew, but yes, there is a Proofreading Day that is observed on March 8th and has been since 2011.

“In 2011, Judy Beaver created Proofreading Day in remembrance of her mother, Flo. On her website, Judy relates that her mother loved to correct people. She thought by creating the day on her mother’s birthday it would be a fun way to remember her, and help people take more time to proofread their work!”

I’ve covered this subject before on this blog with this post, this post, and this post especially. You can see it’s a subject near and dear to my heart.

I’m usually pretty good at spotting errors in things I’m reading unless I’m speedreading to finish something quickly. I’ve been called a perfectionist, a grammar troll, and a few things that aren’t anywhere near as nice as those two labels. The things is, I don’t really try to do so most of the time; these things just jump out at me.

Proofreading my own writing is “a whole ‘nother story” as one of my friends used to say. And it’s for the same reason that proofreading your own writing is a bad idea for anyone; because your mind fills in words or meanings that failed to come out through your fingers.

I don’t have the luxury of hiring a proofreader for any of my blog writing so I employ some tricks based on spellcheck and grammar software and some such as reading my words backwards to do my best to reduce the errors that might creep in. Still, sometimes it happens because we’re all human.

But if I were publishing something that people were paying for, like a newspaper, magazine, or book, I would be damn sure to have at least one other set of eyeballs read through my words and correct any errors that I may have made.

Happy Proofreading Day, everyone!

Posted in Grammar, words | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Proofreading Day

Book Review – Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Leonardo da Vinci Book Cover“Because the soup is getting cold.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Back in November of last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Texas Book Festival here in Austin, Texas for the first time. I was especially excited to get to be there because Walter Isaacson was present and was signing his books. I picked up his biography of Leonardo da Vinci (as well as his Steve Jobs biography) and he graciously autographed both for me. It took me until February to work my way through my TBR stack to his da Vinci bio and it was well worth the wait.

I was especially interested in the da Vinci biography because I have always admired his artistic skill, his scientific mind, and the incredible inventiveness of his life. The man took old ideas and reimagined them into something even better and also created completely new ideas, some of which were too far ahead of their time to be possible in his lifetime.

But another reason I was very excited to read the da Vinci biography was because back in May of 2007, I had the immense pleasure of visiting the town of Amboise in the Loire Valley of France and the Château du Clos Lucé, just down the road from the King’s palace, where Leonardo spent the final three years of his life. I count it as one of the highest experiences of my life that I was able to walk through the same halls of the Château du Clos Lucé that da Vinci walked, tour through his workrooms, his living quarters, and his bedroom where he drew his last breath, surrounded by some of his incredible paintings and writings.

Château du Clos LucéI wish that they had allowed photos inside the Château du Clos Lucé, but sadly they did not. You could only take photos outside and on the grounds, which are beautiful, but you would have been so amazed to see the things inside. Paintings and sketches in various stages of completion, inventions, notebooks using his “mirror handwriting”, the view from his bedroom of the palace (which had an underground tunnel so that the King could come to Clos Lucé unseen, or so Leonardo could do the same going to the palace). The bed where he passed away.

Isaacson’s biography is absolutely incredible on multiple levels. Not only does he tell the story of the life of Leonardo da Vinci, but he deeply explores the thoughts, relationships, skill, and talent of the man. Isaacson is a writer and journalist, as well as a professor of history at Tulane University. To read Leonardo’s biography, you might be inclined to believe that Isaacson is also a university art professor. He delves deeply into the artistic style of da Vinci (and how that changed and improved over the years), and incredibly explains the techniques the master employs to achieve the effects that he does in his sketches and paintings. Isaacson makes you appreciate all the more the wonderful artistic works of da Vinci by explaining the technical mechanics that enhanced the talent.

In addition, Isaacson goes into great detail about da Vinci’s engineering and scientific thought processes, showing how he imagined the way things should work and then proving or disproving those imaginations through observation, experimentation, and building scale models of his inventions to see how they would actually work in practice.

The last writing we have from Leonardo is a page in his notebook where he is working out a puzzle involving rectangles within triangles. Abruptly he stops writing his observations with the words “et cetera” followed by these words, in his distinct mirror script, explaining why he is putting down his pen. “Because,” he writes, “the soup is getting cold.”

The tomb where Leonardo da Vinci was interred at Château du Clos Lucé

On May 2, 1519, three weeks after he turned 67, Leonardo da Vinci passed away in his bed at Clos Lucé. There is a painting done afterward called “The Death of Leonardo” that shows the King cradling the head of this genius of a man, but historians are divided on whether that actually happened or not.

At 525 pages, Isaacson’s book is a hefty read, but not one word, sentence, paragraph, page, or chapter is wasted. And while it contains all the facts of da Vinci’s art, engineering and science accomplishments, he also lays out the kind of life Leonardo lived. How he thought, what his reasonings were, and why he took the actions that he did at different phases of his life.

If you want to examine the life and work of one of the greatest thinkers and artists of our time, the true Renaissance Man, then Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci is the book you should read.

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Book Review – Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Do You Know These Words?

I’m a big fan of constantly expanding my vocabulary, mostly for my own benefit because I learned a long time ago that most people don’t do so and tend to look askance at those who do.

Scrambled Letter Tiles

And, as a writing instructor told me many, many times, “Don’t use a big word when a small one will do.” Or words to that effect. But it just so happens that I LIKE an author who uses some words I may not be familiar with. It gives me an opportunity to learn new words.

So, pages like this one that test your vocabulary are fun for me. If they are for you too, take a look and see how many of these 11 words you already know.

I knew 10 of them; let me know how many you knew.

Posted in words | Tagged , | Comments Off on Do You Know These Words?

Happy National Science Fiction Day!

Science Fiction has always been my favorite genre, both in books and movies. I started early with the Tom Swift books and thereafter quickly fell in love with Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and other Science Fiction writers, as well as TV shows like Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Star Trek.

national-science-fiction-day-january-2_650px

So I am happy to celebrate the unofficial observance of National Science Fiction Day, observed on January 2nd each year because that date is the birthdate of Isaac Asimov.

Posted in Holidays, Science Fiction | Tagged , | Comments Off on Happy National Science Fiction Day!

Book Review: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

This is, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story when it comes to our history in dealing with Native Americans in the 1800’s as we moved across this land making promises that we broke and signing treaties we had no intention of honoring.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee in front of the Wounded Knee Memorial on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee in front of the Wounded Knee Memorial on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Because I am in the area  for a few months and serving the people of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, I wanted to learn more about the history of the people who were here before the rest of us. The sad, plain truth is that our ancestors and our government took the good will that Native Americans offered us and threw it back in their faces by lying to them, cheating them and stealing their land from them. Their culture was broken and almost eradicated. A great people, at peace with themselves, their land, and their fellow man, have almost been destroyed, both figuratively and literally.

As a child I grew up on books, TV shows, and movies that pretended to tell the stories of the old west. Almost without exception, the Indians were always the bad guys. When children in the neighborhood played “Cowboys and Indians” no one ever wanted to be the Indians. They were the bad guys and they always died at the hands of the good guys, the Cowboys.

Read this book and you’ll read that nothing could be farther from the truth. Nothing is ever as black and white as we are led to believe. It is true today and it was true then.

No reflection on the book at all, for I only believe it records the truth of the day, but all I feel after reading it is shame.

Posted in Historical | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Book Review: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Word Of The Week – Rambunctious

I Love Being rambunctious T-ShirtA couple of weeks ago I took my three oldest grandchildren to Orlando International Airport to give them a tour of the main terminal and all the shops, eateries and entertainment locations. I would say they were slightly rambunctious, though overall very well-behaved. We had a good time!

Rambunctious

[ram-buhngk-shuh s]

adjective

1.difficult to control or handle; wildly boisterous: a rambunctious child.

2.turbulently active and noisy: a social gathering that became rambunctious and out of hand.

Origin of rambunctious

1820-30, Americanism; origin uncertain

Posted in Word Of The Week | Tagged , | Comments Off on Word Of The Week – Rambunctious

Word Of The Week – Clandestine

Ashley Madison LogoWith the release last week of the Ashley Madison hacked database, making clandestine the Word Of The Week seemed like a natural choice.

 

clandestine

[klan-des-tin]

adjective

1.characterized by, done in, or executed with secrecy or concealment, especially for purposes of subversion or deception; private or surreptitious:

Their clandestine meetings went undiscovered for two years.

Origin of clandestine

Latin

1560-1570 Latin clandestīnus, equivalent to *clande, *clamde, variant of clam secretly (with -de adv. particle) + -stīnus, probably after intestīnusinternal;

Posted in Word Of The Week | Tagged , | Comments Off on Word Of The Week – Clandestine

Pronoun Chart

Do you ever get confused about proper pronoun usage? Are you unsure about which pronoun form to use when a possessive 1st person plural is needed? Or when it’s a subject pronoun for a 3rd person plural usage? If so, then this Pronoun Chart from Grammarly may be just what you need to ensure that you use the proper pronoun in the proper format.

Pronoun Chart

Posted in Grammar, words, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Pronoun Chart

Word Of The Week – Anastrophe

YodaYou may be looking at this word and thinking you have no idea what it is, but if you’re even passingly familiar with Star Wars then you DO know it without realizing it.

Anastrophe

\uh-NASS-truh-fee\

noun

Definition: inversion of the usual syntactical order of words for rhetorical effect. The name for this kind of syntactical inversion is anastrophe, from the Greek verb anastrephein, meaning “to turn back.”

Examples:

“Powerful you have become Dooku, the dark side I sense in you.” Fans of Star Wars will recognize Yoda’s line in Attack of the Clones. Others might guess that Yoda is the speaker because of the unconventional syntax that is the hallmark of Yoda’s speech. (In typical Yoda fashion, the subject is second instead of first in both clauses—it follows a predicate adjective and the direct object, respectively.)

President John F. Kennedy employed anastrophe for rhetorical effect when he inverted the typical positive-to-negative parallelism in his famous line “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

In poetry, anastrophe is often used to create rhythm, as in these lines from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”: “So rested he by the Tumtum tree, / And stood awhile in thought.”

Posted in Word Of The Week | Tagged | Comments Off on Word Of The Week – Anastrophe

Have You Written Anything Yet?

Dilbert is hoping to coax himself into writing that novel by employing the unspoken pressure that results by telling everyone he’s writing a novel. His goal is that he will be held accountable to his writing by telling all of his family and friends that he is putting words to paper or perhaps words to screen.

 

Dilbert Comic Strip

But we all know how that turns out.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | Comments Off on Have You Written Anything Yet?

Book Riot’s “10 Scariest Books You’ve Read” Survey

A few weeks ago Book Riot ran the results of a survey they took about the “10 Scariest Books You’ve Read” and while the outcome was not all that surprising (Stephen King books grab the majority), I thought I’d throw my 2 cents into the mix.

  1. The Shining by Stephen King (199 votes)
  2. It by Stephen King (176)
  3. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (102)
  4. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (99)
  5. Pet Sematary by Stephen King (94)
  6. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (78)
  7. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (74)
  8. The Stand by Stephen King (41)
  9. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (39)
  10. Bird Box by Joshua Malerman (36)

As you can see, Stephen King books took 6 of the top 10 places. My only real argument with the King placements is that I would move “It” to number 1 and drop “The Shining” to number 2. The other King books I might have a little difference of opinion about where they rank, but not enough to actively dispute their placement.

I haven’t read ANY of the other books, which is fine because they give me some apparently good stories to add to my “To Be Read” list. I also found it curious that Dean Koontz is not included as he’s had some scary books in the past.

swan_song275pxMy biggest “beef” is the lack of inclusion of one of the BEST horror writers; Robert R. McCammon. I actually found McCammon’s “Swan Song” and “Stinger” to be far more frightening than most of King’s works. He pulls you into his stories and then you find yourself clawing your way out in fear. It’s a shame that none of his works found their way into this top 10 survey.

But the upside of my unhappiness is that it has reminded me that it has been years since I read the titles above, and others of his, so I need to dig them out and re-read them when I get to our cabin next month…all alone in the woods.

Bwahahahahahaha!

Posted in Authors, Books | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Book Riot’s “10 Scariest Books You’ve Read” Survey

Word Of The Week – Libertine

The Libertine starring Johnny DeppI have never seen the Johnny Depp movie “The Libertine”, nor have I eaten at a restaurant named “The Libertine” (real), or had drinks at a bar (real) or pub (real) named “Libertine”, or enjoyed the taste of a “Libertine Ale” (real), or, to the best of my knowledge, inhaled the fragrance of White Musk Libertine (real) perfume.

But I do remember, when first stumbling across the word in my late teens, having an idea for a man who during the day pretended to be a conservative but at night donned a mask and costume to become “The Libertine”, scourge of the straight-laced.

 

 

 

Libertine

lib·er·tine

ˈlibərˌtēn/

noun

  1. a person, especially a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters.
  2. philanderer, playboy, rake, roué, Don Juan, Lothario, Casanova,Romeo;
  3. a person who rejects accepted opinions in matters of religion; a freethinker.
  4. characterized by a disregard of morality, especially in sexual matters.
  5. “his more libertine impulses”
  6. freethinking in matters of religion.
Posted in Word Of The Week | Comments Off on Word Of The Week – Libertine

Word Of The Week – Vexillology

The recent situation with the Confederate Flag and its origin, history and place in modern culture reminded me of a word I first discovered way back in my junior high school (better known as the Stone Age to modern readers) Social Studies class.

Or, to be more precise, I discovered it in the school library.

In Social Studies, on a Friday, we were discussing flags of the world and I asked the teacher if there was such a thing as a person who was an expert in flags.

“Why don’t you research that and report back on it next week?”, he replied, which is teacher-speak for, “I don’t know, so I’ll turn it back on you to provide an answer.”

During lunch, I stopped by the school library and asked the matronly librarian the same question.

(By the way, there was a time in my young life that I wanted to be a librarian, though I’d never seen a male librarian up to that point, because I thought librarians were the smartest people in the world. And they got to be around BOOKS all day!)

She returned with a volume of the encyclopedia and a Webster’s dictionary opened to the word, “Vexillology” and I trotted off to an empty table to copy down the information. When I got home I checked our own encyclopedia, but the information was the same. Monday, my Social Studies teacher asked if I had found the answer to my question and I gave my short report that affirmed there was such a thing as a person who was an expert in flags; a vexillologist.

Vexillology

noun vex·il·lol·o·gy \ˌvek-sə-ˈlä-lə-jē\

Definition of VEXILLOLOGY

:  the study of flags

— vex·il·lo·log·ic \(ˌ)vek-ˌsi-lə-ˈlä-jik\ or vex·il·lo·log·i·cal \-ˈlä-ji-kəl\ adjective

— vex·il·lol·o·gist \ˌvek-sə-ˈlä-lə-jist\ noun

Origin of VEXILLOLOGY:

Latin vexillum

First Known Use: 1959

Big Bang Theory Screen Capture of Sheldon and Fun With Flags

Posted in Word Of The Week | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Word Of The Week – Vexillology

Word Of The Week – Interpellate

Questioning of an international political figure to illustrate the meaning of interpellateHere’s a word, if you’re an American, that you would be more apt to find in news accounts, books or magazines from elsewhere in the world because it is seldom used in the U.S. but is common in international language. The definition explains why;

interpellate   \in-ter-PELL-ayt\
Definition

verb

: to question (someone, such as a foreign minister) formally concerning an official action or policy or personal conduct

Examples

At the international tribunal, U.N. officials interpellated the premier about his country’s acquisition of illegal weapons.

“The group noted that Mr. Lotilla was being interpellated at the time by Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr., a member of the majority bloc who supported the fare hike.” — Melissa Luz T. Lopez and Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato,Business World, January 23, 2015

Interpellate is a word you might encounter in the international news section of a newspaper or magazine. It refers to a form of political challenging used in the congress or parliament of many nations throughout the world, in some cases provided for in the country’s constitution. Formal interpellation isn’t practiced in the U.S. Congress, but in places where it is practiced, it can be the first step in ousting an appointed official or bringing to task an elected one. The word was borrowed from the Latin terminterpellatus, past participle of interpellare, which means “to interrupt or disturb a person speaking.” The “interrupt” sense, once used in English, is now obsolete, and interpellate should not be confused with interpolate, which means “to insert words into a text or conversation.”

Posted in Word Of The Week | Comments Off on Word Of The Week – Interpellate