Online recaps of Mad Men or Breaking Bad can be as much fun as the shows themselves. So why not recap classic literature — like, say, Dante’s Inferno? A literary website is doing just that. And, you’ve heard about the First World and the Third World — so where in the world is the Second World? Plus, animal stories, including how the aardvark got three “A’s” in its name, and why the catbird seat is the place to be. Also, the origins of crackerjack, mall, mad money, and the admonition “you might want horns, but you’re gonna die butt-headed!” This episode first aired November 16, 2013.
Shopping malls take their name from the fashionable street now known as Pall Mall in London’s St. James area. The game of pall-mall, which involves hitting a ball with a wooden mallet, was once played there.
Listen up, Scrabble players! Zax is a real word that refers to a kind of roofing tool.
The idiom “rob Peter to pay Paul,” means “to borrow someone from someone in order to repay someone else.” In Nicaragua, the same idea is expressed by a phrase that translates as “take Juan’s clothes to give them to Pedro.”
In an earlier episode, we played a game in which we raised the ante on words with hidden “numbers” inside them. For example, forever became five-ever. Many listeners wrote to share Victor Borge’s hilarious Inflationary Language video along the same lines.
The legendary baseball announcer Red Barber is credited with popularizing the term the catbird seat, the enviable position in poker where you’re last to bet. James Thurber’s amusing story “The Catbird Seat” published in The New Yorker helped popularize it even further.
Photo by dupo-x-y. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Book Mentioned in the Episode
|Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri|
Music Used in the Episode
|Hard Times||Piero Umiliani||Il Corpo||Sound Work Shop|
|Good Morning Sun||Piero Umiliani||To-Day’s Sound||Liuto Records|
|Oxygene (Part III)||Jean-Michel Jarre||Oxygene||Polydor|
|Soul Hi||The Jive Turkeys||Bread & Butter||Colemine Records|
|Funky Brewster||The Jive Turkeys||Bread & Butter||Colemine Records|
|Oxygene (Part IV)||Jean-Michel Jarre||Oxygene||Polydor|
|Straight Fire||The Jive Turkeys||Bread & Butter||Colemine Records|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|