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Sarcastic Interrogatives

When you would ask the father of Chris from Reno, Nevada, something to which he thought the answer was obvious, he’d answer with jokey phrases like “Is a pig pork?” or “Is the Pope Catholic?” or “Does a bear poop in the woods?” (but with a different...

Promulgating Your Esoteric Cogitations

A woman in Mammoth Lakes, California, says her father used to offer this advice: “In promulgating your esoteric cogitations or articulating your superficial sentimentalities, beware of preposterous ponderosities. In other words, don’t...

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...

I Don’t Know Him from Adam

The phrase “I don’t know him from Adam” suggests that if the person were standing next to the person in Western tradition thought to be earliest human being, the two would be indistinguishable. The phrase “I don’t know...

Mining Strippers

In mining country, a stripper is an huge piece of machinery churns up the soil in search of coal veins. This caused no end of hilarity one Christmas Day for a Terre Haute, Indiana, family when a new in-law was scandalized by the thought that all the...

Jingo and Jingoism

Jingoism, or “extreme nationalism,” derives from a drinking-hall song popular in the 1870’s, with the belligerent refrain: “We don’t want to fight but by jingo if we do / We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the...