Home » Episodes » Pickle Seeder (episode #1420)

Pickle Seeder

Play episode

Would you rather live in a world with no adjectives … or no verbs — and why? Also, who in the world is that director Alan Smithee [SMITH-ee] who made decades’ of crummy films? Turns out that if a movie director has his work wrested away from him and doesn’t like the final product, he may insist on a pseudonym, and Alan gets a lot of the blame. Plus, backpackers and medical personnel must pay close attention to “insensible losses” — although they may not be what you think. Plus, “cuttin’ a head shine,” fulsome, apoptosis, and a slew of ways to refer to that nasty brown ice pack that jams car wheel wells.

This episode first aired March 13, 2015. It was rebroadcast the weekend of April 25, 2016.

Linguistic “Would You Rather?”

 Let’s play a round of linguistic Would You Rather: Would you prefer that everyone talk in language that uses only verbs or only adjectives? Grant and Martha both had the same preference. See if you agree.

Cutting a Head Shine

 An East Tennessee caller wonders about the phrase “cutting a head shine,” meaning “pull off a caper” or “behave in a boisterous, comical manner.” Cutting a head shine derives from an alternate use of shine, meaning “trick,” and head, a term used in Appalachia meaning “most remarkable, striking, or entertaining.” A similar phrase, “cutting a dido,” is used not only in the South and South Midlands, but through much of New England as well.

I’ve Blinked Since Then

 We recently spoke about the phrase “I’ve slept since then,” for “I don’t remember.” A Texas listener wrote to say that where she lives, the phrase is “I’ve blinked since then.”

Running Like a Pickle Seeder

 A caller in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, says that when his grandfather was asked how he was doing, he’d reply, “running like a pickle seeder,” meaning “doing really well.” The joke, of course, is that there’s no such thing as a pickle seeder. After all, what would be the point of taking seeds out of pickles?

Second “P” in Apoptosis

 On our Facebook group someone asked, “Does anyone else get frustrated by the second p in apoptosis?” Now you know there’s a second p in apoptosis, which of course you already knew is also known as programmed cell death.

Professional Names Quiz

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski invites us to a party where all the adults have professions that match their children’s names. For example, if dad is a barber, or if mom is a recording engineer, what would they name their boys?

Directed by Alan Smithee

 Ever seen a great film by the director Alan Smithee? Chances are the answer is no, since Alan Smithee is a pseudonym going back to 1968 that’s used by directors who’ve had their work wrestled from them and no longer want visible credit for the (often embarrassing) final product. An actress from Los Angeles shares this term, plus the backstory of The Eastwood Rule, which has to do with the time Clint Eastwood had a director fired only to then take over as the director himself. After that happened in 1967, the Directors Guild has disallowed it from happening again.

Etymology of Fulsome

 The word fulsome has undergone some real semantic changes over the years. It used to mean “excessive, overly full” in a negative way, but it’s come to have positive connotations for some, who think it means “copious” or “abundant.” It’s a word that requires careful use–if you use it all–because without proper context it can be confusing.

Insensible Losses

 Insensible losses, in the world of medicine, are things your body loses which you simply don’t sense. A prime example is the water vapor you see coming out of your body when you exhale in cold weather, but aren’t aware of when it’s warmer out.

Phrase “Yeah, No”

 The very conversational phrase “yeah, no,” is a common way people signify that they agree with only part of a statement. It’s like saying, “I hear you, but ultimately I disagree.”

I Ain’t Lost Nothin’ Over There

 The saying, “I ain’t lost nothin’ over there” is a dismissive way to say “Why in the world would I bother going to that place?” A similar version “you ain’t lost nothin’ down there,” appears in the play Trouble in Mind, by Alice Childress, the first African-American woman to have a play professionally produced in New York City, and first woman to win an Obie for Best Play.


 A recent call from a video editor looking for a fancy word to refer to extracting video from a computer drew a huge response from listeners trying to help. The suggestions they offered include cull, evict, expunge, expede, disassemble, de-vid, and (in case they were working on Windows operating systems) defenestrate.


 A married couple has invented a lovely word to mean “I sympathize” that doesn’t sound quite so stilted. They simply say, salma. It’s an example of the private language couples develop.

Fenderbergs and Carnacles

 What do you call the dirty frozen solid pack of brown snow that gets jammed in the wheel of a car in certain parts of the world during winter? Try crud, fenderbergs, carnacles, snow goblins, tire turds, or chunkers.

Mickey Morenyou

 In the same vein as Billy Badass and Ricky Rescue, most people have dealt with a Mickey Morenyou. He’s that guy who walks onto your turf and still seems to believe he knows more than you.

So the Sun Shines Tomorrow

 The mealtime admonition “someone has to finish this up so the sun shines tomorrow” comes from a German saying that goes back at least 150 years.

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

Photo by nociveglia. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

Selected Plays by Alice Childress

Music Used in the Episode

Libra StripesPolyrhythmicsLibra StripesKEPT Records
Pupusa StrutPolyrhythmicsLibra StripesKEPT Records
Moon CabbagePolyrhythmicsLibra StripesKEPT Records
The Rat CageBeastie BoysThe Mix UpCapitol Records
ChingadorPolyrhythmicsLibra StripesKEPT Records
Snake In The GrassPolyrhythmicsLibra StripesKEPT Records
Dramastically DifferentBeastie BoysThe Mix UpCapitol Records
BoboPolyrhythmicsLibra StripesKEPT Records
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffElla Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book Verve

Leave a comment

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

More from this show

Episode 1536

The Black Dog

Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away — and some were as vicious as...

Episode 1636

Animal Crackers

Images of birds flutter inside lots of English words and phrases, from “nest egg” and “pecking order,” to proverbs from around the world—including a lovely Spanish saying about how birds sense light just before dawn. Plus...

EpisodesEpisode 1420