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Eat the Grindstone

The books we love as children may influence our careers more than we realize. As a child, Martha was fascinated with stories of cracking codes, and Grant loved books with glossaries–not that far from the kind of work they do today. A caller...

Hark Your Racket

“Hark your racket,” meaning, “shush,” is a variant of “hark your noise,” which pops up in Michigan, Wisconsin and Maine as far back as the 1940’s. This is part of a complete episode.

Vonnegut’s Advice for Writers

An Upper Michigan listener with a form of dyslexia told us he wrote to Kurt Vonnegut years ago about his frustration with trying to become a published writer. Vonnegut wrote back, assuring that when you care enough about your subject, the right...

Episode 1415

Noon Balloon to Rangoon

Is there a word you keep having to look up in the dictionary, no matter how many times you’ve looked it up before? Maybe it’s time for a mnemonic device. And: a listener shares a letter from Kurt Vonnegut himself, with some reassuring...

Episode 1376

Drop a Dime

Why call it a doggy bag when it’s really for your husband? Grant and Martha talk about the language of leftovers and why we eat beef and not cow. And how old is the typical public-library patron? Plus, in Afghanistan, proverbs are part of...

Panking Down

To pank, as in to pank down snow for skiing or pank down hair with Aqua Net, is a common term heard in the upper peninsula of Michigan. This is part of a complete episode.