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Episode 1577

Mystery Date

A librarian opens a book and finds a mysterious invitation scribbled on the back of a business card. Another discovers a child’s letter to the Tooth Fairy, tucked into a book decades ago. What stories are left untold by these forgotten...

The Circus Left. The Clowns Remain.

Following our conversation about the dismissive phrase, Not my circus, not my monkeys, Nelly, who is a professor of French and Russian in Marquette, Michigan, shares a handy Russian saying that translates as “the circus left, the clowns remain...

Straw-Related Etymologies

The Spanish word for straw is paja. In Italian, it’s paglia, which also gives us the name of the opera Il Pagliacci, the Italian word for clowns. In the past, clown costumes were made of the same fabric used to cover straw mattresses. This is...

Bozo Buttons

Michael in San Diego, California, plays a game with his three-year-daughter that involves spotting small round property markers in the sidewalk, which he calls bozo buttons. His mother played the same game as a youngster, but calls those metal discs...

Cuddywifter

If someone’s a cuddywifter, are they a) a wine snob, b) left-handed, or c) a circus clown? Folks in Scotland and Northern England refer to left-handed people as cuddywifters, along with a host of other terms. This is part of a complete episode.