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Sunny-Side Up

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Baseball has a language all its own: On the diamond, a snow cone isn’t what you think it is, and three blind mice has nothing to do with nursery rhymes. And how do you describe someone who works at home while employed by a company in another city? Are they telecommuters? Remote workers? One writer wants to popularize a new term for this modern phenomenon: working in place. Also, a powerful essay on white privilege includes a vivid new metaphor for the pain of accumulated slights over a lifetime: chandelier pain. Plus, sunny side up eggs, count nouns, bluebird weather, harp on, think tank, thought box, and how to remember to spell Mississippi.

This episode first aired October 22, 2016. It was rebroadcast the weekend of June 12, 2017.

The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

 Baseball is a rich source of slang, and the Dickson Baseball Dictionary by Paul Dickson is a trove of such language. A snow cone, in baseball lingo, is a ball caught so that it’s sticking up out of the fielder’s glove. And which month of the year is called dreamer’s month? It’s March, when loyal fans believe that anything is possible for their team in the coming season.

Sunny-Side Up Eggs

 Sunny-side up eggs sometime go by the name looking at you eggs, an apparent reference to how the yolk in the middle of the egg white makes them resemble eyes. A similar idea appears in the German name, which translates as “mirror egg,” and in Hebrew, where such eggs go by a name that translates as “eye egg.” The Japanese term, medama yaki, translates as “fried eyeball.” In Latvia, they’re “ox eyes,” and in Indonesia, “cow eyes.”

Two-O’Clock Hitter

 In baseball, a two-o’clock hitter is one who hits well in batting practice, but not during the game. It used to be that games traditionally started at 3 p.m., with batting practice an hour before.

“Amount” For People

 An attorney in El Centro, California, is bothered by the phrase a large amount of people, because the word amount is usually applied to mass nouns, not count nouns. There are exceptions, however.   

Three Blind Mice in Baseball

 In baseball slang, three blind mice denotes the three umpires on the field.

Art Wordplay

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski has an artful quiz about, well, art. For example, remove two letters from the end of this painting’s title, and now the couple in it has been replaced by a pale young man outside a farmhouse sporting a black T-shirt, eyeshadow, and several piercings. What’s the name of this new painting?

Calling the Kids “Mama” and “Papa”

 In Arabic-speaking families, it’s not uncommon for mothers to address their children with the Arabic word for “mama” or for fathers to use the word for “father” when addressing their offspring. These words are used in this way as a term of endearment — they’re not actually thinking of them as parents! Some other languages do the same.

Isabel Allende’s Advice

 Writer Isabel Allende offers this writing advice: “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the Muse shows up, too.”

Play Marbles on Coattails

 A listener in Honolulu, Hawaii, wonders about an expression used by her husband’s grandmother, who was from eastern Kentucky: “He left so fast, that you could have played marbles on his coattails.” The notion that a person is running so fast his coattails are stretched out perfectly flat goes back at least to the 1850’s.

Think Tank

 Since the 1950’s, the term think tank has meant “a research institute.” But even earlier than that, going as far back as the 1880’s, think tank referred “a person’s mind.” Another slang term for one’s mind is thought box.

Counting Time with One Mississippi

 A Seattle, Washington, listener wants to know why, when marking time, we say “one Mississippi, two Mississippi,” as opposed to other states or rivers. In the United Kingdom, they’re more likely to say hippopotamus. Some people count instead with the word banana, or Nevada, or one thousand one. Also, a mnemonic for spelling the pesky name Mississippi: :M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked-letter-I-humpback-humpback-I.”

Bluebird Weather

 In Maryland and Virginia, bluebird weather is a brief period of warm weather in autumn.

Working Out of the Office

 What do you call it when you work for a corporation but aren’t based in the same place as its headquarters. Writer Michael Erard believes that the term working remotely doesn’t really characterize it, and instead has suggested working in place.

“Says” Instead of “Said”

 A caller from New York City wonders about his grandmother’s use of the word says rather than said when she’s telling a story about something that happened in the past. It’s a form of the historical present tense that helps describe recounted or reported speech.

Chandelier Pain

 In a powerful essay on white privilege, Good Black News editor Lori Lakin Hutcherson includes the term chandelier pain to describe how painful accumulated slights can be. Medical professionals use the term chandelier pain to refer to the result of touching an exquisitely painful spot — so painful that patients involuntarily rise from the examining table or reach toward the ceiling.  

To Harp on Something

 Does the expression to harp on, as in “to nag,” have anything to do with the stringed instrument one plays by plucking? Yes! As early as the 16th century to harp all of one string meant to keep playing the same single note monotonously.

Why Not “Afterhand”?

 We talk about something occurring beforehand, so why don’t we talk about something happening afterhand? Actually, afterhand goes all the way back to 15th-century English, even though it’s not that commonly used today.

She, the Cat’s Mother

 A New Hampshire listener recalls that as a boy, when he talked friends within earshot of his mother and said referred to her as she, his mother would pipe up with “she, being the cat’s mother.” It’s an old expression suggesting that it’s insulting to refer to people in the third person if they’re present.

Antonio Machado Poem

 The early 20th-century Spanish poet Antonio Machado has a beautiful poem about finding one’s way. The translation in this segment is by Anna Rosenwong and María José Giménez.

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

Photo by Japanexperterna.se. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Music Used in the Episode

Bikes!The M-TetHot Buttered RumLugnut Brand
Make It For The DoorThe M-TetHot Buttered RumLugnut Brand
Check PleaseThe M-TetHot Buttered RumLugnut Brand
Layin LowSure Fire Soul EnsembleSure Fire Soul EnsembleColemine Records
The Yo-YoThe M-TetHot Buttered RumLugnut Brand
She’s Looking GoodThe M-TetFinger Poppin’ TimeLugnut Brand
Light and Sweet, BabyThe M-TetHot Buttered RumLugnut Brand
Cook It DownThe M-TetHot Buttered RumLugnut Brand
IB StruttinSure Fire Soul EnsembleSure Fire Soul EnsembleColemine Records
Mike’s New AdidasThe M-TetFinger Poppin’ TimeLugnut Brand
So BossThe M-TetFinger Poppin’ TimeLugnut Brand
Stranger To My HappinessThe M-TetFinger Poppin’ TimeLugnut Brand
Volcano VapesSure Fire Soul EnsembleOut On The CoastColemine Records

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