Friday, March 25, 2011

Teams of Rivals

I'm in trouble.

It turns out that there is only one s in impresario. And I don't know what sort of beat one finds in in isarithm, if any at all. 

And the Marion Cross Spelling Bee is only a week away.

I could whine about only getting my study words this week, but complaining would be hypocritical. I don't study, anyway. What I do instead is haphazardly look up words that are unfamiliar to me. 
Not all of them, mind you. Just the ones that tweak my curiosity.

Quite a few words regularly catch my eye.

This year I have learned that hoick isn't nearly as disgusting as I had expected it to be. It means to 'yank suddenly'. Ditto firnification. Jipijapa? The eponym for the Panama hat, which isn't made in Panama, but in Ecuador. 

You can make a note of that.  I did. Jack Candon, honorable emcee, please don't leave out jipijapa. I have my heart set on spelling it.

In the coming days I'll turn to my study list, flip through the pages filled with long columns of dirty tricks played by the English Language,  become immediately overwhelmed, and desultorily look up some of the words that catch my eye. 
This is my way of informing the fierce competitors that make up a significant portion of the Norwich population that I'm no threat to whatever rivalries you may be developing. 

I know you, Norwich. You didn't rise to your current socioeconomic level without a healthy dose of competitive spirit. With all our medical professionals out there, I expect lots of the scientific terms on the list to be long mastered by some of the contestants.

I expect something mighty from you, come April Fools Day. I'll be the Fool; you'll paw the ground before rearing up before the spelling bee trophy, that pretty little filly of the contest.

Back to what interests me. Jow is the tolling of a bell, or the act of tolling the bell. I can see why John Donne passed it by in his Seventeenth Meditation. "Ask not for whom the bell jows..." Never mind.

Getting clobbered by people who actually study is okay with me. Dilettantes make lousy competitors. 

As for me, I'm thrilled with one of my shiny new words. A word for our times. It's kakistocracy

Is that wonderful, or what?

The fun starts at 6:30 at the Marion Cross gym. Win or lose, it's interesting and hilarious.

p.s. to rival teams:  Don't forget to capitalize Quaalude.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rule, Brittania!

Call the library on any Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, and you're likely to get an Anglophile's dream--a British accent.

Anglophiles, I know you're out there. Recently a patron requested a list of all the mystery novels written by British authors, "because they just do a better job."
Please excuse me while I put an ice pack on my wounded American pride.

Recently I've noticed an interesting little phenomenon: on Monday, volunteer Jean Lawe (left) answers the phone, only to correct the caller, who assumes that she's Sophia Crawford, a Friday stalwart (center)

They exchanged some good-natured banter at our recent volunteer party on patrons' assumptions that one-Brit-accent-fits-all.

That is, except for Kenneth Cracknell, (right), Wednesday volunteer and  treasurer of the Friends of the Library. Nobody mistakes Kenneth for Sophia.

What these three share, besides their accents, are a conviction that libraries matter, community spiritedness and ready wit, along with a super-sized dose of intelligence. 

Patrons, here's your cheat sheet: Jean on Monday, Kenneth on Wednesday, Sophia on Friday.

We're thankful for them all.