Someone should write a love letter to a new book called Letters of Note. It’s a splendid collection of all kinds of correspondence through the ages: Elvis Presley fans writing to the president, children making suggestions to famous cartoonists, a scientist’s poignant love letter to his late wife. Then there’s correspondence in the digital age: Grant and Martha talk about how to emphasize something in an email, and when it helps to use emoticons. Also, the fabric called blue jean is much, much older than you might think. Plus, Lord love a duck,man in the moon, bacon and eggs vs. eggs and bacon, white-liver widows, and a vinegar-and-ketchup sauce called julep.
This episode first aired June 27, 2014.
Bacon and Eggs vs. Eggs and Bacon
Which comes first in this favorite breakfast combo: bacon and eggs, or eggs and bacon? Neither are totally idiomatic, but bacon and eggs is most common.
Emphasizing one word over another, especially in written correspondence, makes a huge difference in the meaning of a sentence. And if all caps or italics don’t do the trick in an email, consider using an emoticon.
Since Adobe released the photo-editing program Photoshop in 1988, to photoshop has become a common verb, which got shortened to just shop. Now people are using the hashtag lazyshop, where you just describe the changes you would have made to a photo if you’d actually had the energy to photoshop it.
New Famous Surnames Quiz
Our Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a name game for famous folks who could use a different surname because of their trade.
The term white-livered, like lily-livered, can describe someone timid. But an old folk tradition, once common in the South, associates having a white liver or white spots on one’s liver with an insatiable sexual appetite. The terms white-livered widow, or white- livered widder refers to a woman who has a series of husbands who died shortly after they married, presumably because she simply wore them out physically.
Origin of “Denim”
The fabric called denim originated in the town of Nimes, France, hence the name. The fabric known as jean, originally from Genoa, Italy, was popular long before Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis and teamed up in 1873 to make durable work trousers using jean and duck cloth.
A Different Julep
The word julep, from Persian terms meaning “rose water,” usually refers to a mint-and-bourbon alcoholic beverage with a kick as strong as a Kentucky Derby winner. But one family from North Carolina has a sauce they call julep: a half-empty bottle of ketchup mixed with apple cider vinegar. We’ve never heard of such a thing — have you?
Feyman’s Letter to His Dead Wife
Two years after his wife died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, physicist Richard Feynman wrote her an extraordinarily touching letter that remained sealed until after his death.
Man in the Moon
Eudora Welty dropped the phrase man in the moon a couple times in her short story “Why I Live at the P.O.” The phrase doesn’t really reference the moon itself; it simply adds emphasis. Incidentally, seeing the image of a face or human figure in the moon is an example of pareidolia.
A Letter to Charles Schulz
Some of the best things in the book Letters of Note are letters from kids to adults. One young fan’s plea to Charles Schultz that he remove a character from Peanuts was actually met with approval.
Bored for the Hollow Horn
When someone says they should be bored for the hollow horn, it’s typically a lighthearted way of saying they should have their own head examined. The saying comes from an old supposed disease of cattle that made them dull and lethargic, and diagnosed by boring a hole in one of their horns.
A Child Named Bodie
In an earlier episode, we talked about regretting what you name your child, and we got a call from a mother who named her son Bodie and found that the name didn’t travel so well. In France, people thought his name was “Body.”
Photo by Clarke Beattie. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Book Mentioned in the Broadcast
|Letters of Note|
Music Used in the Broadcast
|Hihache||Lafayette Afro Rock Band||Soul Makossa||Musidisc|
|Azeta||Lafayette Afro Rock Band||Soul Makossa||Musidisc|
|Oxygene (Part III)||Jean-Michel Jarre||Oxygene||Polydor|
|Voodoounon||Lafayette Afro Rock Band||Soul Makossa||Musidisc|
|M. F. Grayson||Lafayette Afro Rock Band||Soul Makossa||Musidisc|
|Oxygene (Part IV)||Jean-Michel Jarre||Oxygene||Polydor|
|Right Foot||Lafayette Afro Rock Band||Soul Makossa||Musidisc|
|Oglenon||Lafayette Afro Rock Band||Soul Makossa||Musidisc|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|
The photographic illustration above “Lord Love a Duck” can’t mean what it looks like, can it? Next to the innocent enough fried (poached?) eggs is a strikingly dramatic frontal male nude torso, streaked in blood-colored wash as though conveying senusality and lethality at the same time….very artisitic, but requires more imagination than I’m willing to own up to to figure out its relationship to Ducks. Love, maybe, but ducks? Or is it the illustration for Bacon and Eggs, and is this a photograph of two slices of bacon overlapping to produce the image that my Rorshak brain interpreted as above? (Don’t look at me! Your the ones making the dirty photographs!)
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