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We’ll Be With You More Than Momentarily


Last weekend, we reached into the AWWW vault and pulled out an oldie but goodie, featuring “death eatin’ a cracker walkin’ backwards,” “graveyard shift,” “saved by the bell,” and “dead ringer.” We also discussed “Bob o’clock,” “fat chance,” and whether “quixibar” is a word. Listen:


Around the web this week:

Film critic (and one-time candidate for a Ph.D. in English literature) Roger Ebert has a thoughtful essay in the Chicago Sun-Times on being “well-read.”


By the way, congratulations are in order! On his 107th attempt, Roger Ebert has won the weekly cartoon caption contest in The New Yorker. You can see his winning caption (and several other funny attempts) here.


Well played, Mr. Ebert. Well played!

You know we’re enamored of etymology. But really, just how long should one cling to a word’s original roots? Ben Yagoda, a professor of English and journalism at the University of Delaware, pondered that question recently.

His answer? An algorithm to determine whether it’s permissible to use, for example, “momentarily” when you really mean “in just a moment.”

Yagoda’s tongue-in-cheek essay is in Slate:


From the “We Saw This One Coming, Didn’t We?” Department:

Barnes & Noble will hold its first-ever “app-signing” (as opposed to “book-signing”)at a New York store this coming Monday, May 2.


Lately we’ve been enjoying the spare, compact poems of longtime community-college professor Kay Ryan, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Here’s one she wrote shortly after her father’s death:

“When he was/I was/But I still am/and he is still./Where is is/when is is/was?/I have an is/but where/is his?/Now here; no where./Such a little fatal pause./There is no sense/in past tense.”

We also liked her poem “Turtle”:


More about Ryan and the craft of poetry in an article from The Washington Post.


What books are you reading these days?

We’ll be talking about some of them in a future show. Help us put together some recommendations by telling us which books you’re reading and why.

Send your suggestions to words@waywordradio.org.

Dactylically yours,

Martha and Grant

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