Home » Episodes » Lousy with Diamonds

Lousy with Diamonds

Play episode
Can children adopted from other countries easily re-learn their native languages as adults? And if you’re invited to an old-fashioned pound party, what should you bring? Also, regional names for those wheeled contraptions you use at the grocery, summer reading recommendations, and a breed of cat that’s supposed to bring you riches and good luck. Plus, the Tour de Franzia (as in boxed wine), police slang from the 1940’s, mnemonics, and a breed of cat that brings good luck and riches!
This episode first aired June 9, 2012.

To be automatically notified when audio is available, subscribe to the podcast using iTunes or another podcatching program.


 Always remember: Martha never ever makes ornery noises in church. That is, of course, a mnemonic for the spelling of “mnemonic.”

Pound Party

 When would you give a pounding to someone in need? When you’re talking about a community coming together to give food staples to, say, the new family in town or a new bride and groom. The term pounding, also known as a pound party, derives from the early practice of bringing foodstuffs by the pound. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling, once wrote about a pound party, albeit one with a surprise ending.

Words for Drunk

 What slang do you use for “getting drunk”? Paul Dickson has collected his share of terms for being drunk, as have, surprisingly enough, college students. How about slizzered, schwasted, or riding in the Tour de Franzia?

All Get-Out

 If it’s cold as all get-out, you’ll probably want to get to someplace warmer. The “get-out” in this informal expression might refer to being out in front, as in “the winner of all cold days,” or it could be a mashup of “Doesn’t that beat all!” and “Get out!” It’s just one of many terms we use to describe cold temperatures.

Dorothy Parker Book Reviews

 You don’t want Dorothy Parker reviewing your novel — at least not when she’s dropping zingers like “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly, it should be thrown with great force.” Parker did have a way with words. How about this description of another birthday rolling around: “This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible, it was terrible with raisins in it.

Silent E Word Quiz

 Our Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a word game about words with a silent “e” and their “e”-sound counterparts. For example, a walking stick and someone good at judging situations might be a canny guy with a cane. Or a guy with a noble title playing with a bathtub water fowl would be a duke with a ducky.

1946 Police Slang

 A Tacoma, Wash., police report from 1946 is chock-full of showy police slang, from the punk on the stem to the handle of the beefer. Read the whole thing here.

Relearning A Language

 Can a child adopted from a foreign country at the age of eight easily relearn her first language as an adult? It seems so. Terri Kit-fong Au describes a group of Korean students in Australia who pick up Korean with ease.


 What do you call the sign used in long division that looks a bit like an awning separating dividend and the divisor? How about a gazinta? As in, two gazinta four twice. Otherwise, you’re stuck with boring terms like long division sign or division bracket.

Summer 2012 Books

 Grant and Martha have summer reading suggestions. Grant’s going through books by great women in show business — Tallulah Bankhead, Mindy Kaling, and Tina Fey. Martha finally got a Kindle, and is starting with Herman Melville’s classic, Moby-Dick! A bit wary of tackling this leviathan of a novel? Nathaniel Philbrick makes an excellent case for why you ought to read Moby-Dick.

Shopping Buggy

 Do you call your cart at the grocery store a shopping cart, a shopping carriage, a grocery cart, or a buggy? The term buggy seems to be particularly widespread in the South.

Money Cat

 What’s a money cat? It’s a regional term for “calico cat,” and it’s particularly common in Maine. The idea goes back to a bit of folklore that calicos bring you good luck.

Call Hocks

 To hox, or hocks, means to call dibs on something, as in “You better hox shotgun if you want to sit up front for the eight-hour drive to Grandma’s!”

Sly Southern Insult

 Here’s a sly Southernism for Sundays: “Each one of his sermons is better than the next.”


 What do you say when you’re frustrated? There’s always, “I’ll be jumped up and down, bowlegged, and Johnny Busheart!” Or “For cryin’ out loud and weepin’ in public!”

Lousy With

 What does it mean to be lousy with, as in “She was lousy with diamonds”? Lousy comes from the English word louse, as in lice. To be lousy with means “to have lots of something.”

Photo by Polycart. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Episode

The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tallulah by Tallulah Bankhead
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Music Used in the Episode

Great Stone BottleRonnie Kole TrioNew Orleans… TodayPaula Records
SuctionOn The Spot TrioSuction 45rpm Colemine Records
Darkness, DarknessPhil UpchurchDarkness, Darkness Blue Thumb Records
Easter ParadeJimmy McGriffStep One Solid State
Tomorrow’s FashionsGeoff BastowTomorrow’s WorldBruton Music
Step OneJimmy McGriffStep OneSolid State
My Favorite Beer Joint Pt 1Don Julian and The LarksMy Favorite Beer Joint Pt 1 45rpmMoney Records
DanceGeorge BensonBody TalkCTI
She Is My LadyEric GaleGinseng WomanColumbia Records
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffElla FitzgeraldElla Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song BookVerve

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show

Cool Beans

If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean...

Love Bites

The word filibuster has a long and colorful history, going back to the days when pirates roamed the high seas. Today it refers to hijacking...