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Tweet Nothings

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How much humor and personality can you pack into a 140-character update? A lot, it turns out. Martha and Grant talk about funny Twitter feeds. Also this week, the origins of skosh and “can’t hold a candle,” why dragonflies are sometimes called snake doctors, whether the word pre-plan is redundant, and how technology is affecting the experience of reading. This episode first aired September 24, 2010.

Favorite Twitter Feeds

 Martha and Grant share some of their latest guilty-pleasure reading from Twitter feeds that show just how much meaning can be compressed into 140 characters. Cases in point: @veryshortstory and @GRAMMARHULK.

Hold a Candle

 He can’t “hold a candle” to someone means that he can’t possibly compare to the other person. The hosts explain where this phrase comes from.

Watering Animals

 A zoo tour guide wants a specific word to describe how elephants procure hydration.

This, That, and the Other Quiz

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski presents a puzzle called “This, That, and the Other.”

Intentionally Misspelled Words

 A Facebook newbie asks if it’s okay to misspell words on purpose when communicating via social media.

Audio Sting

 The mother of eight-year-old twins wonders why one of her girls habitually adds “dun-dun-DUN!” to sentences in everyday conversation. The hosts suspect it’s related to the audio element known as a “sting” in television and movie parlance, like this one in the famous “Dramatic Prairie Dog” video clip.

Just a Skosh

 The term skosh means “a small amount,” and derives from a Japanese word that means the same thing.

Changing How We Read

 Remember when the expression “reading a book” meant, well, actually reading a book? Martha and Grant discuss a Los Angeles Times series about how electronic devices are changing the way we read.

Dragonfly Nicknames

 The distinctive shape of the dragonfly has inspired lots of different nicknames for this insect, including snake doctor, devil’s darning needle, skeeter hawk, spindle, snake eyes, and ear sewer, the last of which rhymes with “mower.”


 What’s the correct term for the male lover of a married woman? The hosts share suggestions from listeners, including paramour and sancho.


 A firefighter is annoyed by his boss’s use of the term pre-plan.

Hit and Giggle

 Martha shares the term “hit and giggle”, a bit of sports slang term she picked up while working as an announcer at this year’s Mercury Insurance Open tennis tournament.

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

Photo by Garrett Heath. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Music Used in the Episode

Perfume BottlesGalt McDermottShapes of Rhythm/Woman is SweeterKilmarnock Records
EastboundBudos BandThe Budos BandDaptone Records
Rock Island RocketTom Scott and The LA ExpressTom CatOde Records
Spinning WheelJimmy McGriffElectric FunkBlue Note
Blue JuiceJimmy McGriffThe WormBlue Note
Tom CatTom Scott and The LA ExpressTom CatOde Records
SanteriaSublimeSublimeUniversal Music Ltd.
Down Home FunkRichard “Groove” HolmesComin’ On HomeBlue Note
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffElla Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book Verve

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