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Hit the Pickle Button

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Who was that masked man? Was it the Barefoot Bandit, the Mummy Bandit, or perhaps the Botox Bandit? Or maybe it was the Bad-Breath Bandit? The hosts discuss the wacky names that law enforcement officers give to suspects. Also, what’s a pickle button? Why do we say “be there or be square”? And what does the word seditty mean in the African-American community? This episode first aired May 8, 2010.

Descriptive Criminal Names

 A news story about the Ho-Hum Bandit has Grant musing about the odd names that law enforcement officers give to criminals at large, usually based on their appearance or behavior, like the Barefoot Bandit, the Mummy Bandit. Or how about the Bad Breath Bandit?

Be There or Be Square

 Where do we get the phrase “be there or be square”?

Slang Term “Seditty”

 What’s seditty? Many African-Americans use this term, also spelled saddidy, to mean “stuck-up.” A caller’s heard it all his life, and is curious about the word.

“I Never Was” Riddle

 Grant has a riddle: “I never was, am always to be, no one ever saw me or ever will, and yet I am the confidence of all to live and breathe on this terrestrial ball. What am I?”

Odd Man Out Puzzle

 Quiz Guy Greg Pliska offers a colorful variation on his ever-popular “Odd Man Out” puzzle. In this series, for example, which one doesn’t belong: Imperial, Shasta, Kings, and Orange.


 A caller from the coastal town of La Jolla, California, is sure he’s heard a word for bright pools of silver light that form on the surface of the ocean when sunbeams poke down through cloud cover. Albedo, maybe? Coruscation? How about sunglade?

Abyssinia! Ethiopia!

 Why in the world would two people part from each other saying, “Abyssinia!” “Ethiopia!”? The hosts clear up the mystery.

Listener Longest Word Riddle

 Martha shares a puzzle sent in by a listener: “What’s the longest word typed on the left hand’s half of the keyboard?” Hint: It’s the plural of a now-outmoded occupational term.


 A lagniappe is a little something extra that a merchant might toss in for a customer, like a complimentary ball-point pen. What’s the origin of that word?

Commercial Categories for Literature

 Grant argues that new commercial categories of literature, which include poop fiction, chick lit, K-mart realism, and tart noir resemble the kind of fracturing that already occurred in the music world. Here’s the blog entry that got him started.

Couple, Few, and Several

 What exactly do you mean when you use the words couple, few, and several? Do they conjure specific numbers? The hosts disagree.

Pickle Off

 A retired Air Force officer says he’s never wondered until recently why the button that pilots push to drop bombs is called the pickle button, and to “pickle off” the bomb means to drop it.

Beginning and End Riddle

 Grant reveals another riddle: It’s the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space, the beginning of every end, and the end of every place. What is it?

Stupider vs. More Stupid

 A Scrabble game sparks a debate between a college student and her English-teacher sister. Which is correct: stupider or more stupid?

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

Photo by Maik Meid. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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