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Bless Your Sugar-Coated Tell-All

First, a big welcome to our new listeners in Waco, Texas, where we'll be the public-radio airwaves there starting Sunday night at 9 on 103.3 FM, Waco NPR!

If your local public radio station still doesn't air "A Way with Words," why not shoot them a quick email and say that we're expanding across the country and you'd love to hear us? Then drop us a line so we can thank you personally.

Find your station here:


In our latest episode, "Bless Your Heart," we talked about socially acceptable ways to express displeasure or disapproval, such as "Oh, interesting!" or "Let me know how that works out." This practice is also known as "charientism," from a Greek word that means "the expression of an unpleasant thing in an agreeable manner."


In addition, we discussed whether it's "free reign" or "free reign," the origin of the one-finger salute, the origin of "graveyard shift," and what the French mean when they say someone has "big ankles." We also welcomed "Jeopardy!" champion Ken Jennings, who acquitted himself quite well in our slang quiz.

After that episode aired, we heard from several of you who wanted to add your own examples of sugar-coated snark. We especially liked the ones from Jacquie in San Diego -- "Now *that's* a baby!" -- and from Matthew, in Coppell, Texas, who offered "I can't think of enough good things to say about that!"

More news of interest to word lovers:

Mark Twain's tell-all is about to be published, exactly 100 years after his death. As the U.K. Independent notes, "Scholars are divided as to why Twain wanted the first-hand account of his life kept under wraps for so long. Some believe it was because he wanted to talk freely about issues such as religion and politics. Others argue that the time lag prevented him from having to worry about offending friends."

The volume also includes previously hush-hush information about his scandalous relationship with Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, who became his secretary after the death of his wife Olivia in 1904. Find out more here:


If, like us, you're a David Foster Wallace fan, you'll want to read about David Lipsky's new book, "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace."

In 1996, Lipsky was assigned to write a profile about Wallace for Rolling Stone magazine. The story never ran, but Lipsky has gone back and reconstructed all his tape-recorded notes from his many hours with the late author:


Love Robert Frost? Over on Andrew Sullivan's blog, some interesting ongoing discussion of Frost's life and poetry:


Finally, we continue to be intrigued with the question of how the Web affects the way we read. Wired magazine recently excerpted part of Nicholas Carr's new book on the topic, "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains." We're not sure we buy all of it, but read it and let us know what you think:


Behind the scenes:

Martha was the featured speaker last week at the annual meeting of the North County Chapter of the Brandeis National Committee. The BNC raises money for scholarships and the library at Brandeis University.

Martha had a fine time among kindred spirits -- lovers of words, supporters of libraries, and devoted lifelong learners. She especially appreciated a member's comment about the need to conscientious now about creating "future footprints" in society. In our own work with the show, we hope to be mindful of "future footprints" as well.

By the way, if you'd like for either Grant or Martha to speak to your organization, drop us a line.

In other behind-the-scenes news, we're busy at the moment working on some special online-only content for our podcast listeners for the summer. You'll be hearing more about that in a few weeks, so keep those batteries charged, and those emails coming!

Doffing our hats to our brothers and sisters in the military,

Martha and Grant

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