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Typewriters We Have Loved

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Death of the Typewriter

 Ding! In this week’s episode, Mark Twain would be pleased. Reports that it’s the end of the line for the typewriter have been greatly exaggerated. Well, slightly anyway: it’s not the horseless carriage return yet. Martha and Grant wax nostalgic about the pleasures of pecking away at a rumbling, shuddering Selectric.

This episode first aired on January 5, 2008.

Floundering vs. Foundering

 A newspaper headline about a faltering legislative proposal prompts a caller to ask: Should they have written floundering or foundering?

Origin of Surf Lingo “Groms”

 A longboarder reports she and her fellow surfers refer to young surfers as groms or grommets—not to be confused, of course, with hodads and kooks. But where’d that surfing lingo come from?

Odd Man Out Word Puzzle

 Greg Pliska presents a punny political puzzle about the names of presidential candidates.

Rule of Thumb Origin

 A listener says his sister reprimanded him for using the term “rule of thumb.” She says the expression derives from an old British law that allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick, as long as it’s no wider than his thumb. Is that story true?


 A caller wonders if the acrobatic “alley-oop” in basketball is connected with the V.T. Hamlin comic strip, “Alley Oop.”


 Is irregardless a real word? A caller wants his wife to stop saying it. Good thing he loves her regardless!

Going Out Of Style

 A commuter hears a radio report about an organization that’s “giving away condoms like they were going out of style.” But, he wonders, if they’re really “going out of style,” then why are they so popular? Isn’t the phrase “giving them away like they were going out of style” contradictory?

Simul and Slug Line

 Our slang quiz was played this week by Rich Stevens of the comic Diesel Sweeties. Rich tried to figure out the correct meanings of simul and slug line.

Santa Anas

 In California, everybody gets a little crazy when those hot, dry winds called Santa Anas start blowing. A caller asks the origin of the name. Is it a translation of Spanish for “Satan’s wind”? By the way, here’s that list of names for winds around the world that Grant mentions.

Novelist Raymond Chandler describes that meteorological phenomenon in his short story, “Red Wind”:

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

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

Photo by R. Nial Bradshaw. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Short Story Mentioned in the Broadcast

Red Wind” by Raymond Chandler

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