News reports that the makers of Scrabble were changing the rules to allow proper names left some purists fuming. The rumors were false, but they got Grant thinking about idiosyncratic adaptations of the game’s rules. Also this week, the origins of the terms picket lines and hooch, why actors “go up on their lines,” terms for “diarrhea of the mouth,” and what we mean when we say there’s an “800-pound gorilla in the room.” This episode first aired May 15, 2010.
Quiz Guy Greg Pliska reprises his game called Initiarithmetic. The object is to guess a set of items associated with certain numbers, as in “There are 12 m__________ in the y___________.” Here’s another: “76 t___________ in the b__________ p____________.” If you missed the first Initiarithmetic game, it’s here.
Several decades ago, the expression tickety-boo was commonly used to mean “all in order,” “correct,” or “just dandy.” Although it’s rarely heard, a caller who once lived in Florida says her boss there often used it. Does it derive from Hindi? If you just can’t get enough of this expression, check out Danny Kaye singing “Everything is Tickety-boo.”
A listener from Bethel, Maine, calls with a riddle she heard at summer camp: The maker doesn’t want it, the buyer doesn’t use it, and the user never sees it. What is it? She also stumps the hosts with a puzzle: What adjective requires five letters to form the superlative?
A Fort Worth listener wonders about a claim she saw in a 1930s magazine. The article said that traditionally, a picket line was an area between the front lines of two opposing armies where soldiers might safely venture out to pick berries without fear of being attacked. Might that be connected to the modern sense of picket line meaning a group of striking workers or protesters?
Photo by Randal Sheppard. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Music Used in the Episode
|T.L.C.||Average White Band||Person To Person||Atlantic|
|Don’t Hate, Congratulate||Robert Walter||Super Heavy Organ||Magna Carta Records|
|Gibbous||Hypnotic Brass Ensemble||Hypnotic Brass Ensemble||Honest Jon’s Records|
|High Heeled Sneakers||Grant Green||Iron City||Savoy Jazz|
|Sounds Form The Village||Message From The Tribe||Message From The Tribe||Universal Sound|
|Rabbit Hop||Hypnotic Brass Ensemble||Hypnotic Brass Ensemble||Honest Jon’s Records|
|Azeta||The Lafayette Afro Rock Band||Soul Makossa||Hi&fly Records|
|Hihache||The Lafayette Afro Rock Band||Soul Makossa||Hi&fly Records|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Fred Astaire||Steppin Out: Fred Astaire Sings||Verve|