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Upstairs Basement

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Giving your baby an unusual moniker may seem like a great idea at the time. But what if you have second thoughts? One mother of a newborn had such bad namer’s remorse, she poured out her heart to strangers online. Speaking of mothers and daughters: Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t write the Little House on the Prairie series alone. She had help from her daughter Rose– who turned out to be quite a demanding editor. And where in the world would you find an upstairs basement? Plus: scat singing, jook joints, makes no nevermind, from hell to breakfast, dog pound vs. animal shelter, and what you’re supposed to do in an upstairs basement. This episode first aired June 6, 2014.

Baby Name Remorse

 Giving your baby an uncommon name may seem like a swell idea. But what if you’re the parent of a newborn and you already have namer’s remorse?

Potching Around

 A potch or putch is a slap, as in potch in tuchis. This term for spanking related to German Patsch, meaning “a slap.” A listener in Springfield, New Hampshire, says her family also used the term potching around to describe her mischievous behavior as a toddler.

Musical Scat

 Scat singing doesn’t have any relation to scat, as in “excrement.” Musical scat probably derives from the sound of one of the nonsense syllables in such songs.


 Sitzfleisch, from German words that literally mean “sit-flesh,” refers to perseverance–the ability, in other words, to sit and endure something for a long period of time.

“How is it Like” Word Quiz

 How is Betsy Ross like tight pants? Our Quiz Guy John Chaneski wants to know.

Pound vs. Shelter

 The term dog pound sounds a lot more menacing than animal shelter, until you learn that pound simply has to do with the idea of an enclosed space, as does a pond, which is often formed by enclosing a space and filling it with water.

Jook Joint

 A jook joint is a roadside establishment where all sorts of drinking, dancing, and gambling may occur. Zora Neale Hurston described them in her 1934 essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression,” and the term probably derives from a West African term for “jumping around.”

Penultimate Husband

 We’ve talked before about the term wasband, as in, ex-husband. A caller suggests another good term for that fellow: penultimate husband.

From Hell to Breakfast

 The emphatic exclamation “from hell to breakfast” goes back to the Civil War.

Word Unit Palindrome

 Here’s a word unit palindrome to drop at a party: Escher drawing hands drew hands drawing Escher.

Rose Wilder Lane

 The Little House on the Prairie series was actually a collaboration between Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, who turns out to have been a bit of a bully.

Ghost vs. Spirit

 What is the difference between a ghost and a spirit? English bibles use both Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit, depending on the translation. The modern idea of the Scooby Doo-type ghost came about much later.

New England Basements

 In New England, a basement can technically be upstairs, since basement is another word for “bathroom.”

Name Confusion Scott/Todd

 Certain baby names come with the perpetual problem of being easily confused, like Todd and Scott.

Makes No Never Mind

 “Makes no never mind to me,” meaning “I don’t care,” is part of the long history of the term nevermind.

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

Photo by Steve Snodgrass. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Music Used in the Episode

The Land of NodThe New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
ZambeziThe New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
All I Want (Right Now)The New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
All I Want (Right Now)The New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
Midnight At The OasisFreddie HubbardThe Roots of Acid JazzSony
Ain’t No TellingThe New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
Tin DrumThe New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
You Got It AllThe New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
MinxThe New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
NunyaTom Scott and The LA ExpressThe Roots of Acid JazzSony
Afternoon at Gigi’sThe New MastersoundsThis Is What We DoOne Note Records
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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