Would you rather live in a world with no adjectives … or no verbs — and why? Also, who in the world is that director Alan Smithee [SMITH-ee] who made decades’ of crummy films? Turns out that if a movie director has his work wrested away from him and doesn’t like the final product, he may insist on a pseudonym, and Alan gets a lot of the blame. Plus, backpackers and medical personnel must pay close attention to “insensible losses” — although they may not be what you think. Plus, “cuttin’ a head shine,” fulsome, apoptosis, and a slew of ways to refer to that nasty brown ice pack that jams car wheel wells.

This episode first aired March 13, 2015.

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 Linguistic “Would You Rather?”
Let’s play a round of linguistic Would You Rather: Would you prefer that everyone talk in language that uses only verbs or only adjectives? Grant and Martha both had the same preference. See if you agree.

 Cutting a Head Shine
An East Tennessee caller wonders about the phrase “cutting a head shine,” meaning “pull off a caper” or “behave in a boisterous, comical manner.” Cutting a head shine derives from an alternate use of shine, meaning “trick,” and head, a term used in Appalachia meaning “most remarkable, striking, or entertaining.” A similar phrase, “cutting a dido,” is used not only in the South and South Midlands, but through much of New England as well.

 I’ve Blinked Since Then
We recently spoke about the phrase “I’ve slept since then,” for “I don’t remember.” A Texas listener wrote to say that where she lives, the phrase is “I’ve blinked since then.”

 Running Like a Pickle Seeder
A caller in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, says that when his grandfather was asked how he was doing, he’d reply, “running like a pickle seeder,” meaning “doing really well.” The joke, of course, is that there’s no such thing as a pickle seeder. After all, what would be the point of taking seeds out of pickles?

 Second “P” in Apoptosis
On our Facebook group someone asked, “Does anyone else get frustrated by the second p in apoptosis?” Now you know there’s a second p in apoptosis, which of course you already knew is also known as programmed cell death.

 Professional Names Quiz
Quiz Guy John Chaneski invites us to a party where all the adults have professions that match their children’s names. For example, if dad is a barber, or if mom is a recording engineer, what would they name their boys?

 Directed by Alan Smithee
Ever seen a great film by the director Alan Smithee? Chances are the answer is no, since Alan Smithee is a pseudonym going back to 1968 that’s used by directors who’ve had their work wrestled from them and no longer want visible credit for the (often embarrassing) final product. An actress from Los Angeles shares this term, plus the backstory of The Eastwood Rule, which has to do with the time Clint Eastwood had a director fired only to then take over as the director himself. After that happened in 1967, the Directors Guild has disallowed it from happening again.

 Etymology of Fulsome
The word fulsome has undergone some real semantic changes over the years. It used to mean “excessive, overly full” in a negative way, but it’s come to have positive connotations for some, who think it means “copious” or “abundant.” It’s a word that requires careful use–if you use it all–because without proper context it can be confusing.

 Insensible Losses
Insensible losses, in the world of medicine, are things your body loses which you simply don’t sense. A prime example is the water vapor you see coming out of your body when you exhale in cold weather, but aren’t aware of when it’s warmer out.

 Phrase “Yeah, No”
The very conversational phrase “yeah, no,” is a common way people signify that they agree with only part of a statement. It’s like saying, “I hear you, but ultimately I disagree.”

 I Ain’t Lost Nothin’ Over There
The saying, “I ain’t lost nothin’ over there” is a dismissive way to say “Why in the world would I bother going to that place?” A similar version “you ain’t lost nothin’ down there,” appears in the play Trouble in Mind, by Alice Childress, the first African-American woman to have a play professionally produced in New York City, and first woman to win an Obie for Best Play.

A recent call from a video editor looking for a fancy word to refer to extracting video from a computer drew a huge response from listeners trying to help. The suggestions they offered include cull, evict, expunge, expede, disassemble, de-vid, and (in case they were working on Windows operating systems) defenestrate.

A married couple has invented a lovely word to mean “I sympathize” that doesn’t sound quite so stilted. They simply say, salma. It’s an example of the private language couples develop.

 Fenderbergs and Carnacles
What do you call the dirty frozen solid pack of brown snow that gets jammed in the wheel of a car in certain parts of the world during winter? Try crud, fenderbergs, carnacles, snow goblins, tire turds, or chunkers.

 Mickey Morenyou
In the same vein as Billy Badass and Ricky Rescue, most people have dealt with a Mickey Morenyou. He’s that guy who walks onto your turf and still seems to believe he knows more than you.

 So the Sun Shines Tomorrow
The mealtime admonition “someone has to finish this up so the sun shines tomorrow” comes from a German saying that goes back at least 150 years.

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by nociveglia. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Broadcast

Selected Plays by Alice Childress

Music Used in the Broadcast

Title Artist Album Label
Libra Stripes Polyrhythmics Libra Stripes KEPT Records
Pupusa Strut Polyrhythmics Libra Stripes KEPT Records
Moon Cabbage Polyrhythmics Libra Stripes KEPT Records
The Rat Cage Beastie Boys The Mix Up Capitol Records
Chingador Polyrhythmics Libra Stripes KEPT Records
Snake In The Grass Polyrhythmics Libra Stripes KEPT Records
Dramastically Different Beastie Boys The Mix Up Capitol Records
Bobo Polyrhythmics Libra Stripes KEPT Records
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book Verve