Saturday, September 15, 2012

Third word is "spurious"

spurious - adjective says:
1. not genuine, authentic, or true; not from the claimed, pretended, or proper source; counterfeit.
2. Biology . (of two or more parts, plants, etc.) having a similar appearance but a different structure.
3. of illegitimate birth; bastard.

Page twelve into the book and three words I've had to look up. It's so...refreshing to read something from the 1960's. There's no internet, no social media and no cell phones. These characters talk in conversation that most times had little meaning but mean so much. Can this generation imagine a life where you didn't watch hours of television and you didn't play video games or sit in front of  laptop? Can they imagine no cell phones? I grew up at the end of that era, when a pick up game of football or baseball was our entertainment. I rode my bike to my friend's houses to talk or play board games or swim. Obese children wasn't a concern on the nightly news.

There was an arcade called "Space Port" in the Plaza mall by my house that was filled with pinball machines and I remember going in there one day when I was in my early teens and seeing a Space Invaders machine amongst all the pinball machines. It looked like a sports car sitting on a lot full of junkers. I remember thinking that this is going to change everything. My favorites were Defender and John Elway's football, but that was "spurious" to say the least. Ha ha.

But, in Confederacy of Dunces, once you adjust to the thought processes of these characters, it becomes very addicting. If it wasn't for the "comedic" value in this book, the sad reprocussions of Ignatius' psychological problems and dillusions would just be too troubling.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Word #2 - Onanist

Okay, so a few pages into A Confederacy of Dunces, I ran into the next word I'd like to showcase:

Onanist - Masturbator - Someone who masturbates.

Well, well. The definition I found doesn't say how often, but I guess no one can escape from this word. DON"T DENY BEING ONE. Ha ha.

It comes from a sentence where Ignatious J. Reilly describs the residents of New Orleans. He says,

"This city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, Antichrists, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians, all of whom are only too well protected by graft."

I love this guy! He's a nutcase with visions of granduer and a superior education. The thoughts and declarations he comes up with are hysterical.

Plus, it makes one wonder why another word for masturbator is needed. Maybe the upper crust needed a way to say it without feeling so dirty and without having to whisper at cocktail parties. "I heard he's a practicing onanist." If someone had said that to me before today, I'd have to reply, "Oh, he's a musician? That's great."

Well, you can say he does play the organ.

Hard to work this one into your vocabulary because no one would get the joke or the insult and your friends might wonder how you know this word. You can only hope someone else uses it and then you can explain and garner a few laughs in the process.

Monday, September 3, 2012


My blog posts have been rare to say the least.

Normally, I'm the type of person that doesn't have a lot to say in group conversation and writing a blog is so...exposing. If something isn't stated just right, the meaning could easily be misunderstood or taken out of context. And once it's out there, it is out there. And since not much has been happening on the publishing front, I haven't had much to say other than my current manuscript is being shopped around by my agent.

I've never tried to hide the fact that I'm not very smart in some areas...or in a lot of areas. As far as my writing goes, I have a big imagination, real characters with great dialog and thanks to the Internet, I'm a good researcher when I need to plow through a subject I may be covering.

So, I had an idea on how to continue to blog regularly. I recently read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. You may have heard that a movie is being made and Jack Black will be Ignatious J. Reilly. While reading the novel, I was amazed at how much vocabulary I didn't know. Then, the idea hit me. At the risk of showing my ignorance, I decided to re-read the novel, picking out each word that I wasn't sure of the meaning and post it with some random commentary. It's an idea I want to try to see if it can find traction or be an epic failure. So, here goes...

On the very first page of the first chapter, I found:

SUPERCILIOUS - adjective - haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, as a person or a facial expression.

I had a vague idea of what it meant, but I looked it up anyway to be sure. Toole was describing Ignatious' eyes. He paints a very descriptive portrait of his main character and using supercilious gives a vivid description of his world view...and it also gives the reader an idea of the type of ride they're in for. The opening scene takes place in front of a D.H. Holmes. Those older residents of New Orleans will know this department store very well.

I also found this description: displaying arrogant pride, scorn, or indifference...sniffy.

You may be reading this, saying that I must be a moron not to know this word. If that's the case, then stop reading and please move on to your MENSA test booklet. I'm a novelist trying to help out other aspiring writers, not writers who feel intellectually superior to hacks like me.

But, finding a place for this word in my fast paced, thriller novels would be a chore. I think one of my characters would have to say it in dialog. I feel if I was to insert a word that I wouldn't normally use in my own everyday conversation, it would just look out of place. But, my intention is to feel comfortable enough to do just that.

So, in conclusion, if you didn't know what this word meant, your homework is to work this word into everyday conversation and then feel the superiority of telling your friends what it means. After that, create your own drinking game. You can add all the words that are sure to follow in the near future blogs.